MONTECATINI VAL DI CECINA
Montecatini Val di Cecina
A noble old “borgo””
Originally a castle and a mansion for the knights coming from the North, Montecatini still preserves the memories of its military past in its big tower and ancient walls.
After its military period, Montecatini rediscovered its mining potential, which the Etruscans undoubtedly already exploited, but without losing its noble charm and fierce character that still make this little town so captivating.
The church, the building of the town hall Palazzo Pretorio and the different squares (the famous “piazze”), give the town a city-ish look and emphasise its importance for the area around it.
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The wooded landscape of the Metalliferous Hills, its fields and pastures, scattered with hamlets, and its old farms and houses dotted here and there, characterize the Montecatini Val di Cecina region. You have to take your time when you come to discover this area, to roam among the gems hidden in the hamlets, and experience the quiet of the countryside. This area, with the Cecina river running through it, is rich in sites of great natural interest, like the Monterufoli-Caselli Nature Reserve. The strong relationship with the natural environment is also expressed in traditional food and drink, with wild game and other local products. Also worthy of mention is wine production: part of this area is included within the Montescudaio DOC Consortium.
The imposing Belforti Tower (11th century) stands on the edge of the borgo (forti ed hamlet) which, with its alleyways and squares, offers quiet, boundless panoramas and remains of a history dating back to 960, when the Montecatini Castle was built, at that time named Castrum Montis Leonis. Due to the development of mining activities, in the early years of the Kingdom of Italy, the village saw a period of economic and social splendor. The heart of the ancient hamlet, at the foot of the Tower, is Piazza del Castello, which the Church of San Biagio looks over, dating to 1356 and housing works of art by Della Robbia and by Guido Reni. Next to Palazzo Pretorio, a 14th century building, now the seat of the Documentation Centre of the Mining Museum. In summer, annual town celebrations, performances and cultural events usually take place.
The largest copper mine in Europe
Montecatini is well-known due to the ancient copper mines in Caporciano, which were in operation until 1907. The ore was mined as far back as the Etruscan period to make tools and other objects. e mining works were the most important in all of Europe in the 1800s. Here the Montecatini Company was born, and was named a er the village. It was one of the most important European factories, which later came to be part of the Montedison company. Its history is displayed in the Mining Museum which – together with the industrial archaeological park and the mining village – offers visitors of all ages a fascinating tour deep down in the bowels of the earth, down shafts and along tunnels, in order to find out more about mining techniques and the stories of miners. In summer, this mine becomes a delightful backdrop for performances and concerts.
This village of recent construction is closely linked to the history of the Solvay Chemical Company, which works the local rock-salt banks. Its name comes from the bridge that Carlo Ginori built between 1831 and 1835 over the Cecina river. Here, one can find sports facilities and all necessary local amenities. In August, festivities with sport matches, dancing, and food and drink are organized in the village.
This ivy-covered Castle is the symbol of this enchanting hamlet, comprising just a handful of houses. After being under the rule of Volterra, in 1431 this Castle was conquered by the troops of the Duke of Milan, and in 1447 by Alfonso the Magnanimous, King of Aragon and Naples. Later, in 1472, this hamlet was conquered by Florence. The Seigniory of the Ginori-Lisci Marquises, still the owner of the castle, dates to 1543. The church of St. John the Baptist is a clear example of Romanesque art, and at the end of the choir one can admire a fresco by Luciano Guarnieri, depicting scenes of country life.
Sassa is situated on the spur of a hill overlooking the valleys of the Sterza and Cecina rivers, and is dominated by the tower of the ancient stronghold (12th century). In 1208, the hamlet was conquered by the Commune of Volterra, and since then the Commune and the Bishop of Volterra had contended for its control. It was to no avail the fact that Emperor Henry VI, in 1186, assigned the castle to the Bishop. Roaming around the hamlet, the church of San Martino is worthy of a visit, and also the baptistery made of variegated pink marble is of particular interest. The hill is a natural terrace overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Tuscan archipelago. A legend narrates that here St. Peter found shelter, escaping from Roman persecution. Here, the Redeemer appeared before him in order to convince him to return and accept martyrdom, and left his footprints on a rock in order to bear witness to this event.
An imposing garrison overlooking the Cecina valley, it was an ancient feud of the Saracini family clan from Pisa. Later it was allied to Volterra up until 1929. Buriano was an important rural centre, seat of a large farm, today abandoned, owned by the Incontri family from Volterra, and later by the Barons of Rochefort.
This is a charming very small hamlet, almost uninhabited, with a few houses made of stone, a church and the remains of more ancient buildings. The existence of Gello is documented from 754. There was a castle here which – in 1479 – was conquered and destroyed by the Sienese troops.
Together with the ancient parish church of St. John the Baptist, it was one of the castles included in the privileges that Henry VI, in 1186, granted to Ildebrando Pannocchieschi. This hamlet displays buildings of great interest, both from the architectural and urban plan point of view.
This medieval borgo is made up of a church dedicated to St. Andrew, a farm, a charming villa and several houses. Due to its location on the borders between the valleys of the Cecina and of the Era river, Miemo has always been of significant strategic importance, and this caused the contention between Pisa, Volterra and Florence to control it.
Characteristic urban centre which was built around the 17th century villa of the Mocajo farm. It has a small church from the 18th century.
“La Miniera” wind park
Do not miss the chance to visit the wind park on your own or with guided tours to discover a renewable energy peculiar production and breathtaking panoramas. A windmill supplies electricity for 1000 households every year.