The enhancement project - Orto botanico 'Pellegrini - Ansaldi'

Go to content
The enhancement projects

The first projects directed to the restructuring of the botanical Garden, as recalled by Giovanni Monti in his essay Nascita e vicissitudini dell’Orto botanico “Pietro Pellegrini”, date back to 1966 by a group of passionate naturalists supported by the Municipality of Massa and by other local authorities. After the installation of the entrance gate and the fences, there was the realisation of some internal paths similar to mountain trails, that was to reach most inaccessible places and the most important ones from a naturalistic point of view. The realisation of the little building to be used as refuge and visit centre concluded the main restructuring works and it formed for the following decades our alpine botanical Garden, that in contrast to the most designed and structured city botanical Gardens, it will be always characterised by a high degree of naturalness and with the absence of particular human settlement. In 2003, the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps included the realisation of an upgrading and adjustment project of the Garden, using a funding of 250,000 euros by the Tuscany Region, registered in the funding system DOCUP 2000-2006, had to operate in an area structured according to the first projects realised in the second half of the sixties, on which over the decades had been carried out simple maintenance interventions. With this project, the Park wanted to respect its original naturalness that characterise this alpine botanical Garden. Specific goals were the improving of the use and accessibility of the Garden, the enhancement of the plant collections, the natural restoration of the areas concerned with native plantations and the improvement of the educational offer.
Concerning the use, it was realised an accessible path impaired mobility people and was improved the state of pre-existing trail network; moreover, it was improved the visibility and functionality of the entrance area. Regarding the environmental education, there were realised an open-air museum trail and a small laboratory with a multimedia room inside the visit Centre. For the vegetation and forest aspects, it was adjusted the fence system, there were realised forest maintenance and restoration works of the vegetation landscape, there were enhanced the pre-existing plant collections, expecting the planting of new collections.
The path for the easy access
One of the main goals of the project was to make the botanical Garden accessible to more people, being faithful to the principles of the so-called Declaration of Norcia, expressed in the international conference “The Park belongs to everyone. The world as well”, promoted by Federparchi, by the Italian Federations for the Overcoming of Handicap and by the National Park of the Sibillini Mountains, held in Norcia in the October of 2003. Here are reported some of the most significant enunciation of the Declaration of Norcia: … The human diversities are a value like the infinity of species that are in nature; and so all the works have to take this into account… The accessibility is a human right and as such it must be guaranteed to all people regardless of their conditions and limits…
The main goal of the planning and management of the territory have to be the building of an inclusive and inviting ecosystem in the respect of the natural and cultural heritage that must be possible to be handed down to the next generations… Every action has to take into account the requirement of the accessibility and presume a participated organisation that include the several instruments of management and control of the territory: urban, economic and social… The use of the nature and of the environment has to be extended to all, offering everyone the maximum level of enjoyment in the respect of the ecosystem. To make a natural mountainside with a great acclivity like that of the botanical Garden accessible is a hard task, and the present intervention has solved it only partially at the moment. To limit the excavations and the total length of the path, there have been realised slopes that in certain stretches go beyond what is laid down by the current legislation as a condition for a full and independent practicability to people in wheelchairs.
The result is a path for the easy access, with a flat surface, with protective parapet, practicable on foot by people that would have difficulties on path where the paving is uneven and steep. The accessibility on wheels is possible using suitable motorised wheelchairs that are able to overcome slopes greater than those taken into consideration. The path runs on a mountainside of the Garden with a grove of conifers, and in the point where there is a hairpin turn, it has been obtained a rest area with a beautiful view of the Apuane and the nearby coast. At the edge of the areas, there were placed small flowerbed that will have some typical plant collections, easily visible by who can’t reach them in the difficult places. After a last light rise, finally it is possible to reach the visit Centre.
The easy path is a pedestrian walkway with chestnut plank floor supported by steel beams and pillars built on the rocky soil. It has a length of 120 cm protecting parapet in wood and cordage facing the valley. The overall development is of more than 150 meters. The walk follows a pre-existing path with the aim of reducing development costs, excavations and the earthworks, as well as avoiding the occupation of portions of virgin soil in an area of high naturalistic value. For the handrail, it was chosen a natural and flexible material like the cord which doesn’t cause risks like the wood, and that in the non-straight stretches, where there are interruptions and changes of directions, it ends up to be uneven and subject to the formation of scales.
The trail network
In addition to the main path mentioned above, from which is possible to reach the visit Centre, from its foundation the botanical Garden is equipped with a network of small trails from which we can go to the most interesting areas from a botanic and landscape point of view. With the enhancement project, it was decided to not increase this network limiting to the restoration and the improvement of what is existing. The works implicated the organisation of paving and the realisation of little stone terracing. It was used the dry wall technique. The pre-existing parapets realised in different periods to protect the more exposed path stretches are in wood or in varnished metal tubes. The latter have maintained over the years more robustness and safety, despite of less appropriate appearance to the natural environment, and so they have been maintained. Those in wood were replaced and integrated by new structures in chestnut poles.

The educational and illustrative poster designing
There is a system of illustrative poster design to convey the environmental peculiarities of the botanical Garden and to signal the main plant species. It has 16 big tables the size of 70x100 cm and 25 descriptive tablets the size of 30x40 cm of the same number of plant species. The formers are of general topics of environmental, landscape, geologic, faunal and botanic character and are placed along the wooden path at regular intervals. The easy path and the poster designing form a sort of open-air museum, that introduces to the Garden subjects, to be deepened with the following tour of its several natural areas. The further smaller 25 tablets are positioned in random order, to signal the presence of the most significant plant species of the Garden. The system of the educational and illustrative poster designing has a coordinated graphic image in which there is the new botanical Garden logo that represents schematically and in an easy reproducible way the Globularia incanescens, one of the most significant and symbolic endemic species of the Apuan Alps.

The visit Centre
For a long time, this structure was designated almost entirely to the stay of the guides of the botanical Garden, that for duty reason they alternated for periods of about a week. The intervention of the building renovation was aimed mainly to have more spaces for the environmental education and for welcoming visitors. There were reorganised the internal spaces and replaced the plants that are now obsolete. The floors of the ground floor, that had different altitude, were unified using local marble slabs. In the ground floor it was created a room for the environmental education, with a capacity of 20 seats. Inside, it was arranged a little laboratory with a binocular microscope connected to a screen and a projector that allow to more people the observation of the simple operations for the analysis and the identification of the plants. The aim is that of providing the Garden with equipment and instruments to satisfy the needs of different types of users: organised groups, schoolchildren, visiting specialists for study. The equipment will allow guide to complete the tour with brief frontal participations, permitting to show the morpho-anatomical details of the different plant species. The visitors can enjoy short audio-visual projections, or simply to see some subjects that in a specific moment, for seasonal or weather reasons, it is not possible to observe them in person.
To improve the comfort of the places used for the accommodation of the guides, it was reorganised the cooking area equipping it with boiler strove capable of providing the energy needed for the heating of all places of the building, using renewable energy sources like the timber. In the first floor the places for the overnight stay were preserved after being restored.
For the utility rooms, the project has planned the realisation of a toilet accessible to the public and another for the sole use of the employees. Moreover, it was solved the longstanding problem of the water supply of the visit Centre, installing a large capacity tank for the sole use of the botanical Garden.

The weather station
From 1992, in the botanical Garden there was a little mechanical weather station, with a weekly charge, that measured values of precipitation and temperature. It was provided by the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Office of Pisa, that obtained data. The enhancement project expected to obtain weather data in an easier and more reliable way, by the automation of their survey, with radio transmission and the installation of sensors with a greater precision. This choice looked adequate because this part of the Apuan territory is devoid of other stations of data survey, that are very important not only by a scientific point of view, but also in relation to the needs of the civil protection.

The interventions of plant species restoration and the new collections
Almost the totality of the plants that there are inside the botanical Garden grow naturally. To improve the representativeness of the Apuan flora, over the years have been introduced some plant species that originally they were not present in the Garden. Also the arboreal flora is mostly natural, except for the numerous conifer species introduced in the sixties in the lower part of the Garden. For them, it started a gradual intervention of rooting that over the years should lead to a restoration of the vegetal landscape to the previous condition of the native introductions.
 The botanical Garden, in its different aspects, reminds of specific situations of the several areas of the Apuane. The tour is thought as a little naturalistic field trip: along the path it is possible to observe many of the plants that live on the Apuan chain; they are not placed in flowerbeds, but let grow in natural groups. The new introduced collections intend to represent an enrichment of the flora, a large number of plant species that visitors can observe, getting at the same time news and information. Each new introduction will implicate a set of farming and a set of research and collection activities. Some possible topics for the realisation of new collections concern the plants for food use in the popular tradition of the Apuan Alps, the endangered plants of the Apuan flora, the plants of the wetlands of the Apuan Alps. In the end, it is important to remember that in the past few years, inside the Garden, it has been realised an important collection of chestnut cultivar. There were recovered news on the Apuan territory concerning 55 types, of which 36 not present in literature. The management of this interesting collection of cultivar requires continuous and progressive interventions of integrations and maintenance.

L'ORTO BOTANICO PIETRO PELLEGRINI, Un giardino alpino nel Parco Regionale delle Alpi Apuane
Back to content