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Panorama of Montecatini Val di Cecina

Landscape near
Montecatini Val di Cecina

Font della Madonna at Montecatini Val di Cecina

Welcome to Montecatini Val di Cecina
from Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population:  2,200 (2001)
Official website:
Montecatini Val di Cecina
Wikipedia: Montecatini Val di Cecina

This small medieval town sits on a hill called the Poggio la Croce overlooking the Cecina Valley in the southern part of Pisa province, near Siena, Volterra and San Gimignano.  It should not be mistaken for the towns of the same name, Montecatini Terme and Montecatini Alto, 100 kilometers to the north in Pistoia province.

Montecatini Val di Cecina's origins and early history before the 10th Century are not known in any detail.  The site of the town, however, was within Etruria, land of the ancient Etruscans, and some historians speculate that there may have been a small Etruscan village here.  Certainly, the small copper mine in the area below the hill, which finally exhausted itself in 1900 or so, was mined since Etruscan times.

In Roman times Montecatini val di Cecina may have been - and probably was - a look-out post overlooking the busy highway in the valley below.

The castle and tower that dominate the hill were built by Filippo Belforti, whose family dominated the territory for a hundred years or so.  By the 11th century Montecatini val di Cecina was in the Catholic parish administered from nearby Gabretto.

By 1351 the area was under the dominion of the Bishops of Volterra.  By 1452, however, it was absorbed into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, whose proud rulers lived in Florence.  It remained in the Duchy until 1860 when the Duchy was folded into the modern state of Italy.

Inside the medieval walls, which feature cylindrical towers placed around the perimeter, the old medieval buildings are tightly spaced, separated by narrow streets and alleys, and a few small piazzas.  The town is dominated by Belforti tower. 

Other buildings include the Palazzo Pretorio, with an elegant porch that runs underneath a cross-ribbed vaulted roof supported by six Ionian columns, and the Chiesa San Biagio, built in the Romanesque - Gothic style during the 14th Century.  The church has an asymmetrical shape with a very plain portal facing a side street.  Inside the space is divided into a central nave with two side aisles separated by columns.

Local agricultural activity and the wealth generated from the old copper mine provided Montecatini Val di Cecina with a degree of prosperity in the early middle ages, but not since.  Like many Tuscan hilltop towns, it's medieval aspect has been preserved precisely because the town has not progressed. All the important economic growth in Tuscany of the past 400 years occurred in the valleys.  Today, Montecatini Val di Cecina is enjoying a small economic revival as another place of interest to the millions of tourists who make there way to the Region every year.

In the vicinity of the town, one finds the beautiful landscape of southern Tuscany, more rugged than other parts of the region, but still dotted with farms, and small forests which team with birds and other woodland creatures.  In the midst of one of these woods, is a  charming village called Castel Querceto, where one finds the Romanesque parish church, the Chiesa San Giovanni.

Also on a hill, and also possessed of a fortified tower that offers a a commanding view of the country stretching toward Volterra and the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the village of La Sassa.  The old copper mine sits between two other very old villages, Casaglia and Gello.

Montecatini Val di Cecina will not itself provide diversion for an entire day, but is an interesting part of an exploration of the wider area.

by Vian Andrews, December 27th, 2005

This article was used as the basis for an article on Montecatini Val di Cecina which Vian Andrews placed on Wikipedia on December 27th, 2005.

Region of Tuscany

Alt: 416 m.


By car: Pisa 60 Km.; Florence 94 Km.; Livorno 60 Km.; Siena 90 Km.





Tower in the east wall of the castle at Montecatini Val di Cecina