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LAKE MASSACIUCCOLI

Puccini first visited the lake seeking solice after the death of his mother in 1884. He made several trips to Land of Puccinithe lake in the intervening years before finally choosing the lake shore at Torre del Lago in 1891 as his permanent home. Puccini came to believe it was the most beautiful place in the world, and described it as "supreme bliss, paradise, Eden , the empyrean, ivory tower, a refuge for the spirit..." The lake is rich in wildlife because of the surrounding marches which constitute a botanic oasis of great importance, providing an environment for plants indigenous to the area, including some ancient species found no where else in Europe that have managed to survive here, largely due to the amicable climate and soil conditions. The lake is now part of a protected area called Regional Park of Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli , which covers an area of about 24,000 hectares in the provinces of Pisa and Lucca .
The areas near the ocean are thick with the costal pines for which this part of the Versilia is famous, however, the park territory offers many very different kinds of terrain, vegetation and soil, and wildlife including several species of rare and endangered birds. The lake itself is what remains of a delta or lagoon which was isolated from the floods of the river Serchio, and reaches a depth of merely 2 metres . Plants that can be found here are falasco (marsh hay), used in ancient times as bedding for cattle and to cover houses and huts as insulation, duckweed, water cane, and the waterlily, which blooms from April until September. Because of its sheltered location and proximity to the ocean, the lake was used between 1920 and 1930 as a military base for seaplanes during the execution of army manoevers, and in 1931, was the site of a huge international gathering of international flying squadrons.
During the Second World War, the lake provided a checkpoint for search and rescue aircraft. Along the western shore of the lake, two large glades now overcome with vegetation hide what were once aircraft hangars.
Excursions can be made of the lake by boat from the wharf opposite the Museum Villa Puccini. Visit the Regional Park of Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli online at www.parks.it/parco.migliarino.san.rossore . The town of Massaciuccoli , set on the eastern edge of the lake, offers a glimpse into life during the Roman era. The remains of thermal baths and houses can be seen, together with ceramics dating to the 2 nd century BC to the 3 rd century AD, and a wonderful mosaic pavement depicting animal and plant life, at the Civic Museum . Call (0584) 975866 for information.