Montecatini Alto

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At 290 meters high, above the better known Montecatini Terme, there is Montecatini Alto. Born from a castle of Romanesque origin, this small medieval village once dominated the Valdinievole.

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The fate of the country changed in 1315, when Montecatini Alto was defeat by Florence by the work of the Ghibelline Uguccione Faggiola, Lord of Pisa and Lucca and by Castruccio Castracani. So Monteatini Alto has had to submit to the Florentine Republic. Meanwhile, the below thermal of zone Montecatini Alto, from swampy area, began to change with the construction of several thermal centers that did flourish this territory, leading to the birth, in 1905, of Montecatini Terme that we all know today.

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To get to Montecatini Alto from Montecatini Terme, you can use three different ways: walking across the trail “La Corta”; by car along the road connecting the two villages; or taking the funicular railway, opened in 1898, it’s a small train that takes you exactly at the entered of the small village.

Of the seven doors present along the two km long wall, there remains only the Village Gate near the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria in Ripa.

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Montecatini Alto, however, can show off an even paved main square with the stone pavement, enriched by the remains, coats of arms, tombstones, portals and the ancient Municipal Court that was saved from destruction in 1554, and then transformed into the “Theatre of the Resurrected”.

The square is full of restaurants and places to enjoy a good wine and taste typical traditional Tuscan recipes, great place to take a little break.

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The main square it’s like “the center of the village”, so from here we can identify two fronts: the western and the eastern. The first is where stands the imposing fortress of the Old Castle, the Church of St. Peter and the Bell Tower. The Rock of the Old Castle is a pentagonal fortress, which in the past had several tower buildings (of which only one remains today), and represented a very important building because it allowed to control the road from Lucca to Pistoia and Florence.

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Behind the fortress there is instead the particular monument to St. Barbara, patron saint of Montecatini Terme. The patron saint is the one who protects those involved in the preparation and storage of explosives, and more generally, anyone risk of dying from sudden and violent death. The monument consists of a small altar with St. Barbara, flanked by historical artefacts relating the various protected institutions.

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Continuing you arrive at Bell Tower overlooking the Romanesque church of St. Peter.

Again crossing the central square, you can now go to the eastern side of Montecatini Alto, to see the Church of Saints Jacopo and Filippo (also called chrch of Carmine) and the Clock Tower.

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The church was almost totally rebuilt in 1764 in Baroque style over a Romanesque building, and it has a facade with a gable roof. The Clock Tower instead, represent the defensive pivot, said castle again, as opposed to the existing place on the other side, and is characterized by a clock placed on the north side so that the whole village could see it.

As in most villages is pleasant to walk through the streets of the country, to discover interesting views, typical houses, particular constructions and to enjoy the stunning scenery which surrounds the village.

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Good light to everyone.

Carlo

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