Just over 10 million years ago, the compressing thrusts of the continents formed a huge basin into which the many different watercourses with no other outlet flowed forming a lake. The basin extended for about 300 square kilometres: from the Calvana Mountains to the Vicchio valley wall. It is not difficult to imagine what the Mugello territory looked like then: there are times today when the impressively dense blanket of fog that rises from the vast basin takes ones mind back to those times and the great extent of water that once covered the area. The sediments that were later carried along by the streams and rivers meant the end of the lake, and replaced it with a flat fertile land.
Like it did then, today the valley holds a great quantity of water. The man-made Lake Bilancino now fills one of the parts of the ancient basin. It holds 69 million cubic metres of water, is 31 metres deep, in its deepest point, and covers an area of 5 square kilometres. Lake Bilancino is just a few minutes from the Barberino exit of the highway.
It was created to resolve the problems of the Florence area hydro system – both possible flooding and drought – but is today a rich tourist attraction that offers numerous outdoor sports. Besides competitive fishing, in fact, the lake offers a number of water sports - not only for the Mugello territory but the whole Tuscan region, such as canoeing, sailing and windsurfing.
In addition, paths for hikers and cyclists are being completed near the banks of the lake, while one beach has already been created for bathers. This offers umbrellas, beach chairs, and bar service.