This summer I went to Tuscany for a week, in a hamlet of Viareggio. Me and my friends spent our days there both wandering on the beautiful sand beaches and exploring the area… at least we would have liked to. Unfortunately for us it rained for two days, and I also got a cold for having walked around Lucca under the storm.
Despite this, we didn’t stop and we decided to go visiting one of the most famous naturalistic spot of the Apuan Alps Regional Park: the Malbacco’s Polle.
The Malbacco’s Polle are those natural pools created by the flowing of the Versilia river, and the most famous is the one carved out by a long and narrow waterfall. For all this, the pools are ponds of cold fresh water throughout the year, even in August, when a swim in freezing water after spending the evening in the hot summer air can only be a pleasure (and can also improve leg’s blood circulation.. women will understand).
As I said before, along the river there are a lot of ponds, but the most famous one is the “Pozza della Madonna” (Ponds of the Virgin), with its waterfall dug into the rock and the emerald green water. It’s the highest natural pool in the village, so you have to walk through all the trail (number 4 – marked as the “Sentiero pozzo della Madonna” on Google Maps), which begins from the paved road. Don’t stop when you see some stairs on your left, but keep walking past the ruin you will find on the path; in 10 minutes or so you will be there.
The trails that lead to the pools aren’t difficult at all, they are actually pretty beaten; they’re slightly steep in certain places, probably because of the bad weather of the previous days. However, it’s better if you wear the right shoes (avoid doing like me, who approached the path with Vans – aka slippery shoes – and almost died a considerable amount of times).
All the pools are surrounded by big smooth rocks, where it’s possible to lay down and spend the entire day. Talking about the Pool of the Virgin, pay attention not to slipper and hurt yourself with the broken glasses you may find in the first pond; I personally witnessed a bottle of glass going to pieces in that point, and without the proper water shoes (forget the flip-flops), you may get enjured.
There is also the opportunity to climb on the top of the waterfall thanks to a rope, and then dive in the water underneath.
As I said before, me and my friends spent the afternoon in this pool, arriving at about 4 p.m. after driving around in circles for a while. By that time the sun begins to set behind the trees and the pond is left in the shade, so if you want to sunbathe you need to be there before noon.
We noticed a lot of people with lunch boxes and I think this is one of the best solutions, as there isn’t place where you can eat unless you go back in Malbacco or Seravezza. Always remember to respect the environment around you, as I saw a lot of trash left behind by some tourist right before the pool; not collecting your trash not only pollutes, but also ruins the entire landscape for those who will come after you, so remember to collect every item you’ll bring with you.
How to reach Malbacco’s natural pools by car
The trails to take in order to reach the pool start from the street that runs along the river from Seravezza.
Due to the high amount of people who come to this place, especially in the weekends, the city of Seravezza limited the access to the street, which is only for residents (you will see a road sign saying ZTL, which stands for Limited Traffic Area); that’s why it is impossible to go through it or even park there. The ZTL begins in Monte Altissimo street, where the trails begin, and goes from the big parking lot right after Malbacco to the end of the street, after a big turn that lead to Martiri del Lavoro street.
So, if you are arriving from the Aurelia road, you need to follow the driving direction for Seravezza. Then, you got two options: going on for Malbacco and leave your car in the parking lot right before the limited traffic sign or going towards Giustagnana and going up till the ZTL limit, where there is a small spot where you can leave your vehicle. I suggest the first alternative, shorter and safer in terms of parking. Take in consideration the fact that the road from the parking lot till path number 4 (the one you have to follow) is uphill and covers two kilometres, so it will take you about half an hour. The other way is just one kilometre long, but going back to the car after the trip will be more difficult because the ascent is more complicated.
Since 2018 the city of Seravezza offers a shuttle service, only in the weekends, from Malbacco’s big parking lot up to the beginning of the path. The ticket costs three euros.
Remember, don’t get smart ignoring the limited traffic area! We did it, parking in a little spot near the road, thinking «Who’s gonna pass by? There aren’t even cameras». Long story short, 90 euros fine.
Finally, hope you could enjoy the almost unspoilt nature of this places. Take a break on a summer day to relax, walk slowly watching what surrounds you and then dive in the cold water of this pools; it’s really worth it. And beware of the black tadpoles in the water, they are the only living forms you will come across!