The Ombrone is a 160 km long river starting near Siena that passes through Grosseto and dumps into the Tyrrhenian. Today we took a 2 hour, 8 kilometer canoe ride down and back up the river. A canoe of 10 (me, the kids, the dad, a Swiss family, two Italian bros) along with our trusty guide, Marco, set sail at 9am. Along the way we slowed down many times to admire the nature surrounding us. The last 8 km of the river are protected within the Parco Naturale della Maremma. Since, it is a nature reserve, no motor boats are allowed and fishing is only permitted on Saturday and Sunday with a permit. All the peace and quiet made for a comfortable environment for little creatures, we were able to see plenty of birds, some jumping fish and even a glimpse of a wild boar.
Marco was a great guide and he was almost fluent in English, so he was able to communicate some fun facts regarding the surrounding area.
1. Since 2012, the percent of pollution in the river has gone down over 90%. That's a big deal. The name of the river, Ombrone comes from the Italian word ombre, meading shadow. So even though it's a super clean river, it will always be green because of the muddy shadows.
2. This past winter, the rain was so bad that the water level rose 4 METERS! That's the highest ever in recorded history. Since the river connects to the sea, the salt water came up further than ever before and in the spring they found jellyfish and other sea creatures along the banks of the river. That is also why there are so many dead trees on the sides. The salt water was so high that it killed the trees and they fell into the river. Since no machinery is allowed in the area, there was no way to clear them out.
3. The place that we stopped at for a little break before we turned back was a 2,000 year old port. Yes. 2,000. Years. Old. In ancient Roman times, the sea came so far in that the port was only 400 meters from the sea. Today it is 5 km. I wish I had a better picture but you can see a little bit of the brick from the dock in the bottom left. I guess 2,000 years of erosion leaves a lot to the imagination.