Montecatini Terme Tourist Attractions
SituationMontecatini Terme, one of Europe's leading spas, lies in northwestern Tuscany, some 30km/20mi east of Lucca and 15km/9mi west of Pistoia.
HistoryThe healing power of the springs of Montecatini appears to have been recognized in ancient times, for the Terme Leopoldine have yielded Roman figurines which have been interpreted as votive offerings. In his book on Italian spas (1417) the 15th century doctor Ugolino Simoni mentions Montecatini, referring to three bathing establishments which were then in existence. Under the Médici, who added Montecatini to their private estates in 1583, the importance of the spa declined, and it began to recover only in the latter part of the 18th century Grand Duke Leopold I (later Emperor Leopold II) was mainly responsible for the modernization of the town and the construction of the various establishments - the Stabilimento Regina, the Terme Leopoldine, the Stabilimento Tettuccio, the Palazzina Regia. The development of the spa continued when it became the property of the Benedictines of the Badía di Firenze. Montecatini is now the largest spa in Italy; its waters (temperature 19-25°C/66-77°F; 2,592cu.m/3,391cu.yd daily) are recommended particularly for the treatment of disorders of the liver and gall bladder and diseases of the stomach and intestines.
Piazza del Popolo
The central feature of the town is the Piazza del Popolo with the Neo-Classical church of Santa Maria Assunta; a little way northwest is the Kursaal. The wide Viale Verdi runs northeast from the Piazza del Popolo to the spa center. At the edge of the large spa park are several thermal baths - to the left the Stabilimento Excelsior, built in 1915 and enlarged in 1968, the Terme Leopoldine (1775; rebuilt 1927) and the Stabilimento Tamerici; at the end of the street is the Stabilimento Tettucio (1927), a large building with fine colonnades. In Viale A. Diaz, opposite the Stabilimento Regina, is the Accademia d'Arte, with a small museum. Northwest of the Stabilimento Tettucio are the smaller houses, the Torrettas and the Rinfresco. At the northeast corner of the spa park is the lower station of the cableway up to Montecatini Alto.
Montecatini Terme lies in an open basin in the Valdiniévole, surrounded by attractive hilly country. Along the edge of the large and beautiful park are a series of spa establishments. First comes the Stabilimento Excelsior (enlarged in 1968), on the left; then the Neo-Classical Terme; Leopoldine and the Stabilimento Tamerici; and beyond these again, at the end of the avenue, the Stabilimento Tettuccio (1927), an imposing structure in Neo-Renaissance style with beautiful colonnades. Near by, in Viale A. Diaz, is the Stabilimento Regina. the Accadémia d'Arte, opposite, houses a small museum. Northwest of the Stabilimento Tettuccio are two smaller establishments, Torretta and Rinfresco. At the northeast corner of the park is the lower station of the funicular to Montecatini Alto. To the southwest of the town are the Stadium and the Ippodromo (Race-course).
Parco di Pinocchio
Northwest of Montecatini Terme, near the village of Collodi, is the Parco di Pinocchio. Between a fairytale park and playgrounds can be found a monument to Pinocchio. The adventures of the famous character, created by the Florence-born writer Carlo Collodi (originally Carlo Lorenzini) who grew up in Collodi, are known all over the world.
Buggiano Castello, Buggiano
On the road from Montecatini Terme to Pescia is the village of Borgo a Buggiano, from which a side road leads up to the old walled village of Buggiano Castello (1.5km/1mi). Its most notable building is the 13th century Palazzo Pretorio, its facade covered with 15th and 16th century coats of arms. In the small square stands the Romanesque parish church, originally built in 1038 for a Benedictine abbey and later partly rebuilt. The aisles are separated from the nave by columns with antique capitals (on the right) and pillars (on the left); fine marble sculpture and wall-paintings.
Montecatini Alto (Montecatini Val di Nievole)
About 260m/285yd above the thermal bath, on the top of a hill, is the old-world village of Montecatini Val di Nievole (usually called Montecatini Alto). It can be reached either by funicular from Montecatini Terme or by road.
On the road from Montecatini Terme to the old town is the entrance to the Grotta Maona, a stalactitic cave discovered in the 19th century. There are only scanty remains of the old Castle of Montecatini Alto. The Church of San Pietro, originally Romanesque, was remodeled in the Baroque style; adjoining the church is a small museum of sacred art.
Only ruins remain of the Castello Montecatini Alto.
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