Only a few towns in Europe boast the presence of a colony of herons. One of them is Turin. This short itinerary on foot will give you the opportunity to observe these wonderful birds and, more in general, the birds of the river.
From the cemetery of Sassi, easily accessible on foot from the bridge Sassi, head for the river, and then turn right and follow the cycle-way entering Meisino Nature Reserve. At a junction, take the road on the left shortly leading to the banks of the river, where the latter becomes broader to form a big stretch of water near the confluence of Stura di Lanzo. Here, during the winter, it is easy to observe hundreds of ducks and cormorants fishing along the river. Spring is the season of the wedding ceremonies, and it is not difficult to see the wonderful mating displays of the males of the Great Crested Grebe.
Go ahead on the right, under viale Agudio, and you will shortly arrive in front of Isolone Bertolla, where the colony of Gray Herons live. The best season for the observation activities is late winter, when the birds go back to their nests. Without the leaves, the impact with the hundreds of big nests almost entirely covering the foliage of the trees is thrilling. As a matter of fact, herons are colony birds who love to nest all together to form big colonies with nests built one next to the other. It will be wonderful to observe the birds landing or leaving, or arranging their nest, better if you are equipped with binoculars or telescope.
For the return journey you can follow the same trail of the outward journey, with possible detours along the other trails of the Nature Reserve.
(Text by Stefano Camanni)
The itinerary entirely develops along roads closed to the car traffic.