Since ancient times, the lush vegetation and fertile soil have attracted people from all over to breed and farm. With the passing of time, the nomadic populations became settled, giving life to small flourishing centres where craftsmanship, agriculture and manufacturing were among the most practised activities. The territory is predominantly mountainous, with the 25 km long Pescia river flowing through the western part of the Valdinievole. This particular geographical conformation favoured the development of a predominantly fortress-like architecture.
Villages and thousand-year-old castles in the Valdinievole
The Valdinievole hides undiscovered treasures, challenging tourists to discover them one by one through trekking, excursions and walks in the shade of chestnut trees. Themed itineraries have been designed to welcome visitors to this land, the scene of even bloody battles. These places, in fact, have always been fought over by the Etruscans and Romans, Guelphs and Ghibellines, Florentines and Lucchese. The villages in the Valdinievole are fortifications that have represented the most extreme defence by means of boundary walls and screw towers.
This is what can be seen when admiring the landscape below from the thousand-year-old village of Montecatini Alto. The town stands on two hills: on the first stands the Rocca del Castello Vecchio (Old Castle Fortress), the Church of San Pietro and the Bell Tower; on the second stands the Clock Tower and the Church of the Carmine in Baroque style.
Buggiano Castle and Buggiano Colle
Continuing the journey we come to Buggiano Castello and Buggiano Colle to the east. The foundation of the latter has been a matter of contention as some believe that it was the Etruscans who gave life to this flourishing village. Others, however, maintain that its castle was built by the Romans, only to be destroyed during the Martian War.
Cecina and Larciano Castle
Cecina is a hamlet of Larciano, whose castle was even reproduced by Leonardo da Vinci in a cartographic drawing that is still codified and preserved today. As with the other thousand-year-old villages of the Valdinievole, there are walls inside which stands the church of San Nicola with frescoes of the Archangel Raphael and San Rocco. Porciano, on the other hand, is characteristic for its two medieval towers that are clearly visible from afar: the Torre di Sopra and the Torre di Sotto, both square in plan.
During the journey of discovery through the Valdinievole, heading north we come across Uzzano, a medieval village of Lombard origin. Its architecture, in Romanesque style, in fact, attests that its foundation took place around the year 1000. The churches with their frescoes, decorations and sculptures of the period are a precious example of ancient art.
Collodi and The Ten Castles of Pescia
Collodi is the village in the Valdinievole linked to Carlo Lorenzini, author of Pinocchio, the timeless tale loved by young and old alike. The Dieci Castella, on the other hand, are thousand-year-old villages in the Svizzera Pesciatina built according to a predefined pattern: southern exposure, the presence of defensive walls and watchtowers. Staying in the Valdinievole you can admire Pietrabuona, Medicina, Fibbialla, Aramo, Sorana, Vellano, San Quirico, Castelvecchio, Stiappa and Pontito. They are like gems in a crown that bears witness to a past enlivened by important historical and political events.
Monsummano Alto and Montevettolini
Travelling south of Montecatini it is possible to admire ancient vestiges of a sumptuous medieval past such as the Castle of Monsummano Alto. Its shape suggests a Lombard origin. In the midst of the lush vegetation, it is possible to see the ancient fortified walls, originally 2 km long, which also include the Church of San Nicolao with its chapel. Montevettolini is a hamlet of Monsummano Alto that houses the Villa Medicea, the Church of San Michele and Lorenzo and the Oratory of the Madonna della neve.
Massa and Cozzile
Finally, on the northern border of the Valdinievole you can see Massa and Cozzile, with its well-preserved castle. During clear sunny days, it is possible to admire the marvellous Tuscan territory in all its immensity.