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Waterfalls, ruins and mines: discovering Monteverdi Marittimo

The village and territory of Monteverdi Marittimo call to adventure, with ancient places to explore and incredible outdoor trails

Between the Tyrrhenian coast and the Colline Metallifere (Metal-bearing Hills), Monteverdi Marittimo has stood in a privileged position for centuries. On the edge of the Cecina Valley, the village is a verdant bulwark between the blue sea and the steaming stones of the Valle del Diavolo (Devil's Valley), where the realm of geothermal energy begins. As small as it is dense with charm, it is the starting point for the discovery of a magical, sometimes fairy-tale territory, where nature grows luxuriantly, crossed by charming streams.

Monterufoli-Caselli Natural Reserve
Monterufoli-Caselli Natural Reserve - Credit: Valdicecina Outdoor

Framing Monteverdi Marittimo's attractions is the vast Monterufoli-Caselli Nature Reserve, which stretches between the village and the nearby towns of Pomarance, Montecatini Val di Cecina and Volterra. Enclosed between the courses of the Trossa and Ritasso streams, the reserve is a treasure trove of biodiversity: the Mediterranean scrub is home to numerous animal species, and in the flowering season it offers the spectacle of marvelous wild orchids, which interrupt with patches of color the thousands of shades of green woodland.
Streams running through the vegetation create small lakes and waterworks, and envelop the environment in a fairy-like atmosphere. Protagonist of the reserve is perhaps the Sterza Waterfall, with which the stream plunges into a small pool of clear and inviting waters, an ideal stop during hikes in warm weather. Also a must-see is the pond of the "open gorges," from which there is a scenic view of the coast and the sea.

The origins of Monteverdi Marittimo are lost in the distant Lombard era, when the leader Wilfrido, later to become St. Walfredo, abandoned the use of arms to found a monastery, around which the first inhabited area developed. Of the monastic abbey of San Pietro in Palazzuolo today there remain ruins surrounded by nature, not far from the village and that you can reach with a nice walk.
The real heart of Monteverdi Marittimo, however, is the Church of Sant'Andrea, which preserves the relics of St. Walfredo and is the ideal point to immerse yourself in the alleys of the historic town center: from the church, in fact, start the "wrinkles," an evocative maze of narrow streets to explore, which unravel through the main streets of the village. In the village it is also possible to visit the Piccolo Museo dei Paesaggi (Little Museum of Landscapes), where you can find out more about local history and the excavations conducted in the area of the abbey (although the museum is temporarily being refitted).

During the 19th century, long after the arrival of the Lombards, the territory of Monteverdi Marittimo was transformed into a small mining center, thanks to the discovery of mineral deposits that enriched the subsoil of the entire Cecina Valley. The surrounding woods reveal in places the traces of the old 19th-century railway that connected the tiny town of Casino di Terra - now abandoned - to the area's lignite mine. Throughout the area it is possible to go searching for the old mining centers, some of which even allow you to go underground, as in the case of the copper mine in Montecatini Val di Cecina.

The entire Cecina Valley is dotted with castles, fortresses and fortified villages, resounding with the echoes of past centuries. An example of this is the hamlet of Canneto, not far from Monteverdi Marittimo, where medieval-style tower-houses recall the defensive origins of the inhabited area, which arose around the ancient castle.

The hamlets of Canneto and Monteverdi Marittimo, as well as the entire surrounding area, are an ideal destination for lovers of outdoor activities thanks to the important network of trails that allow for intense adventures on foot or by bicycle, immersed in the landscape of a borderland overlooking the sea and the lands of geothermal energy.

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