Near of highway from Florence and from the Tyrrhenian sea it is to the center of a stupendous valley of ulivi and flowers, Montecatini Terme is an oasis of peace in one of the most suggestive landscapes in Tuscany.
Near of highway from Florence and from the Tyrrhenian sea it is to the center of a stupendous valley of ulivi and flowers, an oasis of peace in one of the most suggestive landscapes in Tuscany. On the base of a serious scientific search Montecatini has known how to consolidate the fame of his thermal waters, notes from centuries.
To the traditional thermal therapies for the treatment of the affections of the liver, digestive apparatus and exchange has united modern and appropriate techniques of preventive therapy and riabilitativa in the rheumatic affections, articular and traumatic post. Modern and sumptuous thermal establishments allow to practise the varied treatments: the waters' drink, baths, muds, thermal swimming pool, cares inalatorie, cares eudermiche and of beauty, gynecological cares, physiotherapy, medical gymnastics, massages.
The caves natural sudatories of Monsummano Terme constitute a valid therapeutic complement of it. Great parks, that are extended in the city for over 500.000 mqs., they assure the maximum relaxation and they contribute to find again the good psico-physical equilibrium of the organism and a true "remise en forms" .Circa 250 hotels, of varied categories, they do one of it of the greatest thermal and tourist places of Europe. Imposing congressional structures qualify as ideal city for conferences, character buttocks international. The happy location offers the possibility of interesting excursions, within the day, in the most beautiful artistic and tourist places in Tuscany: Florence, Siena, Pistoia, Pisa, Lucca, St. Gimignano, Volterra, Island in Elba, the Coast of the Versilia, Collodions, the stupendous hills of ulivi of the Montalbano, of the Valdinievole and of Pescia, Montecatini Alto connected with the centenary funicular, the Padule of Fucecchio. Racecourse, sweater to 18 holes, minigolf, draught to the piattello, tennis fields, Olympic swimming pool, palazzetto of the sport, theaters, cinema, dancings, coffee-concert they cheer the stay of the Guests and they satisfy the demands of the clientele of every age. Highway, autolinee, railroad, the airports in Pisa and Florence assure an easy connection with the whole world.
Montecatini Terme it is undoubtedly one of the more important thermal centers of Europe.
His waters' ownership, you uses for the therapy idropinica, but also for treatments of beauty and for the comfort general psicofisico, is note since the antiquity but has received the definitive consecration in 1417 with the essay "De Balneorum Italiae proprietatibus" of Ugolino from Montecatini, reader of medicine in the universities in Pisa, Florence and Perugia and considered then to full right "founder of the idrologia Italian."
In 1733 the construction of the establishments started, that are extended today for a surface of 460.000 square meters: an enormous green lung where possible to practise fangoterapia is, balneoterapia, idromassaggi, fisiochinesiterapia in thermal swimming pool and therapies of rehabilitation.
Thermal waters originate from a stratum that it is found to a depth of 60-80 meters.
During the journey toward the surface waters are loaded of mineral salts and they also appear on the surface bacteriologically and it can be used without any treatment. To the first historian establishment said of the Regal Bath - today Regina - they are assistant subsequently the Leopoldines and the Canopy, reconstructed in more recent times.
For the one who decided to spend a stay of comfort in the Tuscan town - as in past it loved to make Joseph Verdi, that composed some of his works to Montecatini - the occasion is offered of also to appreciate the artistic beauties of the thermal center: from the frescos and the decorums in style liberty of Galileo Chini that they embellish the times and the colonnades of the commune to the ceramics of Basilio Cascella displaced inside the thermal establishments and so many other artists of the beginnings of 900 that this you/they have made famous "villas of eaux" all over the world.
To Montecatini Alto it is possible to admire the rests of the ancient Castle, once center of the Commune, partially destroyed in 1554, but of which intact numerous towers and the door of Suburb stay. Interesting also the Church of S.Pietro Apostolo, that preserves in the columns, in the capitals and in the façade the signs of his Romanesque origin. In the adjacent Museum a Gothic shrine, the head of the patrona, Barbaric Saint, a wooden Majesty and a Triumph of Christ are preserved.
Some of the most important appointments of the artistic and cultural life of Montecatini Terme are taken place between June and September, among these it is signalled Summer Regina, review of concerts prizes and tied up events to the world of the classical music and a Fall of Events, in which concerts, theatrical shows, works and shows of dance are alternated
Montecatini Alto was a castle of romanesque origin , 299 meters of altitude, that in the past time was the seat of the municipality until the year 1905. It was the origin of the Montecatini that we know now. At the beginning the only existing town was the one on the hill, however, already in ancient times, people knew that the waters in the swamps had curative powers, and that the termal patrimony of Montecatini was probably already known to Etruscs and we have documents, relating about the spas, dating back to 1387, however one never gave enough significance to the phenomenon. In 1530 one started to take baths in the wells. One had also given a name to the wells: "mediceo" or " tondo" or "dei merli" or " della rogna". The area was in any case unhealthy cause of the stagnation of water. Thanks to the grand duke Leopoldo who ordered to built some waterways for the drainage, the zone was regained, and to make easier the use of the thermal springs he ordered to built some thermal resourts That was also the origin of a second place:
Montecatini Terme, first known as " Bagni di Montecatini", exactly because it is part of the municipality of Montecatini Alto. So in 1905 the municipalities of "Bagni di Montecatini" and "Castello" were two separate ones. In 1940 "Castello" became part of "Bagni", today it has become an international thermal resourt. The only intact remainings of the castle and the 6 doors belonging to the 2-km long wall that was brought down by Cosimo I of the Medici, is the "Porta di Borgo".Some of the many towers are incorporated in the area of the steeple of the rectory, another one is part of the remains of the fortress, the third one is the clock tower and the last one is in front of the Convent of Santa Maria a Ripa (XVI Century).This Convent is the only one still tended since 1861 by the Benedectine nuns. The ancient Augustinian Convent of Santa Margherita lodges now an old people’s home .
The Convent of the Carmelites (1296) was rebuilt in the year 1764 and today is a nursing home. The Oratory of San Sebastiano with its precious portico of the seventeenthcentury has been well preserved. The Chirch of San Pietro Apostolo built following the plan of Antonio Zannoni, keeps in the columns, in the capitals, and in the front, the vestiges of its Romanesque origin. In the adjoining Museum precious furnishings are kept: a Gothic reliquary, the head of the mistress of the town Santa Barbara, a wooden Majesty of the Century XII, a Nativity and a Glory of Christ, attributed to some famous artists like Del Sarto and Orcagna.
In the year 1315 Montecatini Alto had its more important event: it was place and victim of the defeat of Florence (it was allied of) by the ghibelline Uguccione della Faggiola, Master of Pisa and Lucca and by Castruccio Castracani. We still have some interesting documents about this episode.
Montecatini Alto has a central place still stone paved, some remains, coats of arms, tombstones, portals and the ancient municipal registrar’s office preserved by the destruction of the 1554, and after transformed in the "Teatro dei risorti".
Funicular of Montecatini
The Funicular looks like one of those little trains of the Western movies pursued by the Red Indians and even its age brings us back to that period: 1898.
At the end of the XIX century, Mr. Alessandro Ferretti, an engineer from Genoa, had the idea to realize a ropeway between Montecatini Alto and Montecatini Terme , called respectively "the Castle" and "the Montecatini Baths".
He obtained the relative licence by the Montecatini Municipality on October 8 1896 but he needed to find the necessary financing for this complex and expensive work.
He found his capital partners in Genoa: Mr. Carlo Barbano and Mr. Giacomo Giovannetti (the square next to the Funicular is named after them).
They took about 4 months to terminate the studies relative to the layout and to the location of the stations and to carry out the on-the-spot investigations on the lands where the Funicular would have run through and their consequent expropriation; in the end, on February 11, 1897, the majority partner, Mr. Carlo Barbano, sent to the Montecatini Terme Municipality "copy of the final layout and of the longitudinal profile of the Funicular according to the finally selected way and for which the definitive expropriation contracts were being entered into, according to the preliminary agreements taken with the land owners".
On March 1, 1897 the first rail works began. The dream of many inhabitants of Montecatini to be easily connected to the "Castle" was about to come true.
The excavation and building works such as viaducts and bridges and the track laying lasted some months.
The beginning of 1898 was employed for the technical improvements of the facility and especially in preparing the great opening ceremony which took place on June 4, 1898 with the participation of famous people such as the genius of the opera, Giuseppe Verdi.
Up to 1921 the two red little trains were operated by a big steam boiler located in the uphill station; subsequently, thanks to electricity, traction was carried out by a powerful electric motor.
The Funicular service went on safely up to September 2, 1944 when a troop of sappers in retreat, in setting off some charges arranged in various sides of the facility caused serious damaged to it, making it unserviceable up to 1949. A Florentine entrepreneur, in collaboration with the Montecatini Municipality carried out the restoration works necessary for its reopening.
The end of the war was followed by the years of the economic recovery. Montecatini became a very attractive thermal resort for thousands of people during summer and the Funicular was more and more utilized by the tourists who wish to visit the "Castle".
In 1977 following some difficulties due to the facility upgrading and fitting works, the Funicular was closed and reopened only with the contribution of the Tuscany Region allowing the coaches restoration, the installation of a new motor and of a very modern "black box" for the trip control.
The activity reopening took place on August 3, 1982. Since then in order to make the vehicle safer to passengers, various mechanical traction parts have been replaced and very important upgrading works have been realized.
The two historical coaches, which "greet" half way, have not been modified.
The structure is the same: three compartments with wooden benches and two external balconies, the most longed-for places from which you can enjoy a wonderful panorama.