Amiata, the silver forest.
In the southernmost area of the mountain is the Pigelleto oasis with its unspoilt flora and rich fauna. There are also plenty of paths for hikers and mountain bikers. In the municipality of Piancastagnaio, which is located at the base of Monte Amiata on the provinces southernmost border, is the Pigelleto nature reserve. It is an unspoilt natural area covering 862 hectares with altitude variations of between 600 and 969 metres above sea level. Most of it is wooded and it is home to vast array of rich indigenous fauna. The geology of the reserve is characterised by sedimentary calcium and clay rocks, interspersed by numerous streams and watercourses. The climate is humid and is ideal for hardwoods such as beeches, turkey oaks, chestnuts, ashes and elms. There is also an abundance of herbaceous plants, silver firs, and evergreen (holly, butchers broom or the characteristic spurge laurel) and deciduous shrubs such as wild plum and hawthorn. You can also find all kinds of mushrooms and truffles. The area is also home to rich diversity of fauna. The twinkling streams are home to rare reptiles such as the three-toed salamander, tritons and river crayfish. The reserve is also a sanctuary to birds such as numerous species of both diurnal birds of prey (the short-toed eagle, the kite, the honey buzzard and the kestrel) as well as their nocturnal counterparts (the owl, the barn owl and the screech owl). You will also be amazed at the extraordinary variety of woodpeckers (e.g. the wryneck, the green woodpecker and the great spotted woodpecker) that can easily find refuge in the tree-rich reserve. The mammals you might come across include roebuck and wild boar but finding deer, porcupines or foxes is more of a challenge and the pole-cats, badgers and dormice that inhabit the Pigelleto woods are equally elusive. The reserve even has an environmental education centre located in the former offices of the nearby Siele mine which itself is an interesting example of an industrial-archaeological structure. The centre offers accommodation and restaurant facilities and is also a base from which guided tours are organised along the parks many footpaths.