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Acquedotto Leopoldino
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Acquedotto Leopoldino

The Leopoldino aqueduct, better known as 'Acquedotto di Colognole', supplied the city of Livorno with water from 1816 to 1912 (when the more important 'Acquedotto di Filettole' was opened)

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Today the aqueduct supplies water to the towns of Parrana San Giusto, Parrana San Martino (near Collesalvetti) and Valle Benedetta (near Livorno). The remarkable increase in the population of Livorno during the eighteenth century, combined with the growing need for water in the port meant that the old seventeenth-century conduits built under Ferdinand I de' Medici had to be replaced. At the end of the eighteenth century, Pietro Leopoldo ordered the first studies on the natural springs present in the territory of Livorno. At the death of his brother Giuseppe, the Grand Duke was called to Vienna to be crowned emperor of Austria, leaving the throne of Tuscany to his son Ferdinand. Thus of his own accord in November 1792, Grand Duke Ferdinand III approved a project designed by Giuseppe Salvetti and ordered the work to begin on the new aqueduct. Work began in fact in 1793 but was interrupted in 1799 when Salvetti died and Tuscany came under the control of the Borbone family. In 1806, work began again under the direction of the engineer Raniero Zocchi and planning of the architect Riccardo Calocchieri.
In 1809 (during the Napoleonic era) work to build the aqueduct was taken over by the local government and the project was entrusted the architect Pasquale, who remained in the records as the principal author of the aqueduct. In 1816 the spring waters from Colognole reached the source of the Pina d'Oro in Borgo Reale in Livorno but the work was still unfinished. Under the Grand Duchy of Leopoldo II, the Grand Duke responsible for the realisation of the most important public works in Tuscany, a commission was instituted for the completion and maintenance of the 'Acquedotto di Colognole'. In 1827 Poccianti outlined the principal works required for the distribution, accumulation and purification of the water. The plans contained drawings of the projects of some tanks supposed to purify the water along its course, guaranteeing an adequate distribution. For example, there was the 'Cisterna della Castellaccia' (not built) and in Livorno, the 'Cisterna di Pian di Rota' (later detached from the water supply network), the 'Gran Conserva' or 'Cisternone' (still working today) and finally the 'Cisternino di città' (which was never used). The Cisternone in particular shows some architectonic features inspired by the Romans and the French neo-classical architecture of Etienne-Louis Boullée and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux.
The Aqueduct of Colognole originates in the rich springs of the Morra torrent near Colognole and runs for 18 kilometres before reaching Livorno. The stone conduit crosses the Parrane and passes through tunnels and archways, such as the double archways of Botro Caldo and Rio Corbaia. From Parrana to Nugola the aqueduct passes under the hills via tunnels and galleries (Bellavista, Traforo del Fornello) to then proceed along the Via delle Sorgenti and reach Cisternino Pian di Rota. Here there is the so-called 'Purgatorio', constructed around 1850 and which up to the end of the nineteenth century worked as a cleansing system for the filtering of the waters. The aqueduct's course concluded with its arrival in the Cisternone, built between 1829 and 1842 to guarantee a water supply to the town and surrounding villages.
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