A town once lapped by Lake Bientina, the largest lake in Tuscany before it was drained with works begun at the time of Cosimo I. The reclamation made it possible to recover land for agriculture and changed the landscape and the economy of the area, turning the inhabitants from fishermen into farmers. The draining also brought to light the remains of some buildings from Etruscan and Roman times; the recovered artifacts are preserved in the Museo di Storia Antica del territorio della Bientina (Museum of Ancient History of the Bientina area).
Although it has lost its ancient medieval appearance and taken on a more contemporary look, there is no shortage of interesting sights in Bientina. In the main square stands the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta (Church of Santa Maria Assunta), where the remains of St. Valentine, the town's patron saint, are kept; the simplicity of the exterior is counterbalanced by the rich decorations of the interior, with stuccos and paintings. Attached to the church is an esteemed Museo d’Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art), with a collection of religious objects and fine furnishings from the 16th-17th centuries.
Not far away, in a small square, stands the Mastio (Dungeon), once the town's upper part of the fort. Damaged during World War II and now restored, it houses the Biblioteca Comunale and the Archivio Storico (Municipal Library and Historical Archives) inside.
The former Oratorio of San Girolamo (Oratory of San Girolamo), an ancient 17th-century church now deconsecrated, houses the Museum of Ancient History of the Bientina area mentioned above with artifacts from the Proto-Etruscan and Etruscan-Roman ages found in the area, including those from the settlement once submerged by the lake.
Bientina is a good starting point for those wishing to explore the Terre di Pisa, and in particular the Valdera area and Mount Pisano, a small hill-mountain range of particular natural and historical value, covered with protected areas to safeguard its rich biodiversity.
Other places of natural interest include the Oasi WWF Bosco del Bottaccio and the Bosco Tanali (WWF Forest of the Bottaccio Oasis and the Tanali Forest), just on the slopes of Mount Pisano. The forest in this protected area covers about 153 hectares on the edge of the former lake bed, in an area that includes a variety of environments that are very significant from a natural point of view: periodically flooded wet meadows, straw groves, wet woods, reed beds and small bodies of water - important environments for the life of many species of plants and animals.
The third Sunday in July is the day of the Palio delle Contrade. The horse race is held in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, but the event involves the whole town and its inhabitants for several days, especially during the impressive night-time historical procession that takes place the week before, on the evening of the second Saturday in July.
We are in the production area of the white truffle of the Sanminiatesi Hills, the most prized of the tubers, harvested between September and December. From January to April, instead, the same area is home to the Marzuolo Truffle (Tuber Albidum Pico); from May to September the Scorzone Black Truffle (Tuber Aestivum Vitt.). Absolutely not to be missed is the Tagliolino with white truffle of the Sanminiatesi hills, a delicious dish prepared according to precise rules.