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Montecatini Alto

Montecatini Alto1Montecatini Alto is a hamlet belonging to the town of Montecatini Terme; in ancient times the area was called Montecatini Val di Nievole and was the capital city of an independent district up until 1940.

The original town district extended for about 30 square kilometers and had about 5400 inhabitants in 1905. The area was bordered by the districts of Marliana, Serravalle Pistoiese, Monsummano Terme, Buggiano, Massa e Cozzile and Ponte Buggianese and included, beside the capital town, the hamlets of Bagni di Montecatini (present-day Montecatini Terme) and Pieve a Nievole.

In 1905 these two hamlets were amalgamated as an independent town district; in 1940 the district of Montecatini Val di Nievole was abolished and its territory divided between that of Montecatini Terme (the name adopted by Bagni di Montecatini in 1934) and Pieve a Nievole. At the moment when it was abolished, the district consisted of little more than 3200 residents. In the poll of 1860 for the annexation of Tuscany to Sardinia the ‘yes’ votes only just lost, the majority of the …

To visit Montecatini Alto, we recommend that you take the charming funicular railway (open seasonally) and to follow one of several itineraries for the area.

In the medieval village of Montecatini Alto you can visit the church of the saints Jacob and Philip (or Carmine). This church was almost completely rebuilt in 1764 in the baroque style on top of a Romanesque building founded by the Carmelites in 1296, and has a façade with a pitched roof. The single-nave interior has a sculpted white marble font (19th century), a painting on canvas of Saint Anthony of Padua and the baby Jesus between two saints (end of the 16th century), a carved and gilded wooden reliquary (18th century), in the middle of which is situated a 13th-century painting on wood of the Madonna breast-feeding the baby Jesus, a 17th-century canvas of Tobias and the angel with a holy bishop, Saint Joseph and the Virgin and child, and the mystical marriage of Saint Catherine of the Florentine school from the second half of the 16th century.

Moreover, in Montecatini Alto there is also a monastic building from the 16th century, characterized by its severe style, with two cloisters with large pillars. One enters the church from the Monastery by way of a stone staircase, that is probably Romanesque, like the façade relieved by only two windows above the main door. Inside, in the single nave with a vaulted ceiling, are frescoes from the 18th century like the carved, painted and gilded wooden organ. Ground Floor. During the renovations fragments of frescoes emerged in the chapel on the left. Here you find a 13th century painting of the Madonna and Child on board inside the convent of Montecatini Alto.

At the top of Montecatini Alto, near the remains of the old castle, is the Church of Saint Peter, originally dedicated to Saint Michael. This sacred building becamea church and changed dedication in the 12th centuray, when the building was completely reconstructed. The present-day façade, preceded by a massive medieval tower, constituted the head of the apse of the Romanesque church transformed into the present structure in the 17th century. Inside several important works of art remain: in the choir an Ascension of Christ by Santi di Tito; along the nave there are The Martyrdom of Saint Barbara by Jacopo Ligozzi and the Assumption of the Virgin by Carlo Maratta.

Among the figures of importance who have left their mark on Montecatini Alto are the poet Giuseppe Giusti born in Monsummano, who believed that tMontecatini Alto was his home; in fact, as soon as he could Giusti returned willingly to redicscover his childhood memories. A sign on the façade records this special connection.

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