Montecatini Val di Cecina
|Satellite coordinates||Population||Altitude||Official Website|
|Lat. 43.3936 – Long. 10.7503||1.883 ca||416 mt||Montecatini V.C. Municipalities|
The town below has the traditional characteristics of a medieval centre built up around the most important political and religious buildings: the 14th century Church of San Biagio and the Pretorio Palace.
The latter houses the documentary section of the Mine Museum, which is joined by the ancient mine structures just outside of town that are now open to visitors. This is a magnificently rugged, hilly, woodland area thriving with animal and plant life scattered with enchanting villages such as Casaglia, Buriano, Miemo and Gello, Castello di Querceto with its Church of Saint Giovanni.
La Sassa with its panoramic view of Volterra and the sea is surmounted by a tower and the church of St. Martino. At Montecatini there are also the disused copper mines first worked by the Etruscans.
The imposing Belforti Tower (11th century) stands on the edge of the borgo (fortified 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 splendour. 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.
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. The mining works were the most important in all of Europe in the 1800s. Here the Montecatini Company was born, and was named after 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.