Montecatini Alto, the medieval town


In the largest province of Tuscany lies the small village of Montecatini Alto. The suffix 'alto' means high - it is a Mountain village that is 300 meters above sea level. The place has its origins in the Middle Ages. In the tranquil village there are various churches, a tower and the remains of the city wall to marvel at.

The remains of Palazzo del Podesta are in the middle of the Piazzetta Giusti. From the 13th to the 15th century public meetings and the Markt instead of. You can reach it via a steep road San Pietro Church, which is proven to have been built as early as 776 AD. It was damaged during the Florentine siege and then remodeled in the eighteenth century.

On the opposite side of town is the Torre del Carmine, also Torre dell' Orologio (12th – 13th century), which has only recently been restored. Before the Florentine troops of Grand Duke Cosimo di Medici destroyed the village after the siege of 1554, there were 25 such towers here. Six of them are still preserved today.

There is a clock on the north side of the tower that is visible to the whole city. The Dial only shows 6 numbers, which makes this clock special among the tower clocks of the 19th century. The Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria a Ripa is another attraction. It is located just past the only remaining gate to the city, the Porta di Borgo. The associated church was already built in the 11th century.

The small square in the center of Montecatini Alto is a magnet for lovers of the Italian way of life: people eat and sit in the café here.

House on a hill in Tuscany
Photo by studio pizza on Unsplash

It is no coincidence that Montecatini Alto is located here. The small town is strategically right at the end of the Nievole valley. The beginning of the valley forms a swamp and lake landscape (Palude de Fucecchio), even if there is no other large one in this area lake in Italy gives. The middle consists of hills and the end of mountains that are up to 1000 meters high. Whether Hannibal or the troops in the Second World War: everyone had to go through here. Montecatini Alto was safely on the mountain, far enough away from the swamps that were a breeding ground for malaria and high enough to tell of the fighting between the three cities of Lucca, Florence and Pistoia to be spared.

Nachdem die Medicis recaptured the country in the 16th century, it was again safer to live in the valleys, but Montecatini Alto stayed where it was. The area below the town of Montecatini was cleared by Grand Duke Leopold, who built canals for water drainage. Through these measures, the thermal springs, which are now known as Montecatini Terme are known to be put back into operation. Montecatini Alto can be reached from Montecatini Terme by bus and by cable car, from which you have a fantastic view of the surrounding area.

Photo by Federico Di Dio photography on Unsplash

The surroundings of Montecatini Alto

On the road between Montecatini Terme and Montecatini Alto is the Maona cave. If you are interested in stalagmites and stalactites, you can visit the cave in just 20 minutes.

There are seven thermal baths in Montecatini Termethat offer different ambiences and treatments.

Around Pistoia and Pescia there are Wineries, where you can book wine tastings. Pistoia itself is also worth a visit. The historic city center is well preserved and physical well-being is also excellently taken care of.

To Viareggio, Pisa, Livorno and Florence are each about an hour's drive away. If you have a longing for the sea, that is Viareggio the right place for you. Pisa has the famous Leaning Tower as its main attraction and in Florence you should spend at least a week to visit all the sights. From the port city Livorno the ferries leave for Elba and Sardinia.

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Last updated: 06.02.2024

Images courtesy of and stasal

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