Follonica’s origins are deeply tied to the iron and steel industry as a foundry was located there as far back as the XVI century. Starting from 1863, the town became the Grand Duke’s primary iron-working headquarters, when Leopoldo II entrusted all of the Grand Duchy’s iron-working in the Maremma area to the Royal Administration of the Mines of Rio and the ‘Magona’ Iron Foundries. Local inhabitants settled near the foundry creating the town of Follonica which, over the course of the centuries, has become well-known for its production of furnishings and home décor items in cast iron. The gate at Follonica’s Church of San Leopoldo hosts a noteworthy example. The city’s foundries were also responsible for creating the balustrade surrounding Florence’s Duomo as well as the iron fence surrounding Piazzale Michelangelo. Follonica’s masters were also commissioned to create the tiny neo-gothic temple (1833) that was destined to cover the cistern in Grosseto’s Piazza Dante, which today has been moved to Arcidosso.
The town’s Iron and Cast Iron Museum developed in the southern wing of the San Ferdinando foundry; visitors can enjoy viewing artifacts from the Etruscan period to today. Its archeological section showcases archaic Etruscan objects found in the urban center of Rondelli, which once hosted no less than 21 foundries. Those interested in industrial archeology and the history of decorative arts won’t want to miss visiting the museum section dedicated to documenting nineteenth century production by Follonica’s foundries including wooden models and cast iron fusions. The museum hosts didactic events, as well as organizing show and meetings spotlighting the territory’s history.