The Fondotoce Nature Reserve is an oasis of peace, where you can renew your ecological spirit, walking among thousands of protected species and letting yourself be enveloped by light and silence.
The sun rising on the horizon paints the surface of the lake in a thousand shades of gold, while the water sparkles and the sky lights up as if by a miracle. The dawn of a new day welcomes us as we walk briskly along the path that enters the Fondotoce Reserve.
In this strip of land located on the western shore of Lake Maggiore and characterized by a high degree of biodiversity, we are literally enveloped by the spirit of nature and by the energy that the pristine environment is able to transmit. In the silence of the morning you can encounter marsh turtles and green frogs, crested newts and green lizards. But, of course, many insects and mammals, such as foxes, badgers and weasels, also inhabit the forest.
Among the plants in the reserve we encounter various types of willow, rare species of ferns and water chestnuts typical of this wetland. But it is the luxuriant cane thicket that best represents this environment: plants that rise up three or four meters high, with their rigid stems, covered by small leaves and surmounted by the typical "cob", offer shelter to hundreds of species of birds that choose this environment for nesting and wintering. The rangers who watch over the park explain to us that this area functions as a large "service station" for thousands of swallows who stop there during their long migration flight to Africa, beyond the Sahara.
An ideal ecosystem has also been created in this area for the reproduction of numerous lake fish, such as carp, pike and tench. The importance of the reed bed is determined by its fundamental function as "green filter": the reeds, in fact, are capable of absorbing numerous polluting substances thus contributing to the natural purification of the water.
The destination of our morning walk is the pretty birdwatching post, a slightly elevated wooden tower that guarantees an excellent observation point for the fauna that roams the woods and reeds. From the heart of the park you can easily reach the sandy beach of the Isolino and the river bank, or you can walk along the canal where families of ducks happily swim. Some travel along the path on a mountain bike (a modern cycle path, in fact, directly connects the natural oasis to Mergozzo and the center of Verbania), others venture into a canoe within the cane thicket, still others allow themselves to be tempted by a horse organized by stables that can be found in the surrounding area.
For more than thirty years the protected area of Fondotoce has represented a precious oasis of nature and biodiversity, a territory of 360 hectares cut out in the alluvial plain created by the river Toce which, historically, before changing the last stretch of its course, flowed in the lake just where the reeds now stand.
In this uncontaminated area, in the middle of a densely urbanized area, we forget the chaotic city traffic, thanks to the suggestive panoramas, the luxuriant vegetation and the intense silence. Sometimes you just need space to feel in tune with the world.