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Montecarlo insolita

Some years ago, thanks to some historical information given to me by a friend of mine, Mr Sergio Nelli who is an archivist, it was possible for me to give out within the town a cultural, sightseeing itinerary called "Montecarlo Insolita" (Montecarlo Unusual). It was particularly interesting for tender-hearted tourists, fond of local history, or for those that just simply "love" Montecarlo.
On that characteristic yellow paper I paid the attention to the readers numerous erecting architectures of the town, historical curiosity and news about the towers, palaces and religious buildings inside the walls of the castle.
Today my desire is to present it to a less hectic tourist, some less common aspects in our town, in a time where you can discover the comfort of travelling, quiet holidays, not so busy places and lots of greenery, nature and open air.

My information "Montecarlo Insolita 2" is written in both English and Italian. Thus, it offers to an Italian tourist, or to another of a different nationality, the possibility to go around our hillsides, just for one day, showing you places that usually are not part of the local tourist offers.
A deep trip going around stones, pottery, greenery, food, animals, flowers, culture and fantasy will allow the traveller to get into this fascinating land, learning to know the character of its inhabitants. Going along this way will make you get in contact with people, while visiting public and private places, and activities and curiosities of the countryside of Montecarlo.
Have a pleasant trip discovering this fantastic "Unusual" Toscana.
If you want to tell me your impressions or give me some suggestions, please write an e-mail, in English or Italian, to my address:
frediano.pellegrini at

List of the places

1-The font of St. Andrea (C3)
The font of the parish of St. Andrea is in the baptistery situated inside the old bell-tower. It was built from 1580, thanks to Annibale Tolomei and Pietro Bocciantini's donations, and it now offers a highly symbolic octagonal basin, which is made out of a single, about one metre tall, block of Carrara white marble, embellished with a different coloured marble. On the front of the font, you can see a radial disc with a cherub and the Holy Spirit over him. On its sides, you can see the ancient coat of arms of Montecarlo with its cross chains, and the symbol of the Major Work of the Church. The late-Renaissance round chapel, built in 1596, has sandstone pillars showing the saying "venite sitientes".

2-The historical archive of the town (C3)
The Montecarlo community's historical archive - once called "Archivium" - is at the second floor of the ex-"Palazzo del Vicario". The edifice, built in 1333, is now part of the ex-convent of the Clarisse nuns called "Istituto Pellegrini-Carmignani". Here you can find hundreds of registers handing down the population's political and civil history of more than 500 years, as the oldest document dates back to 1480. Imposing raw cotton paper volumes, which are bound in parchment adorned with leather bars, preserve files of letters, town records and level samples. Here you can find the ancient memories and the affairs coming from the commune, and even the "dazzajolo" of the taxes and the rates of the toll. A visit to the archive is more interesting if you are guided by Dr. Sergio Nelli of the State Archives of Lucca (Home phone 0583 22673).

3-"Il Fortino" tower and the medieval tunnels (C3)
The remains of a medieval sighting tower commonly known as "Il Fortino" are within a stone's throw of the donjon of the Cerruglio's fortress. The tower measures fifty square metres, though it is cut off. It seems that this tower was the secret way out from the fortress for the besieged soldiers' sorties. Montecarlo can also offer some tunnels both under the sloping bastion next to the square of arms, and in the bastion facing the fortress. These defensive works were ordered by Cosimo I dei Medici in 1556. Another vaulted tunnel starts from via della Pubblica Fonte and makes its way under the built-up area of the historical centre. For further information on the ancient defensive works ask to Federico Carrara, cell phone 3487261541, e-mail: carrarafederico at

4-The "Wandanna" farm and the collection of rural tools (D2)
The "Wandanna" farm is on the hill sloping to the north-east side of Montecarlo. Within the rooms of the farm, a small collection of country and rural tools is worth visiting. The tools have been collected through the years by the current owners in their old farmhouses, and they represent a cross-section of the social and productive life of the recent Tuscan populations. "Wandanna" farm of Fantozzi Ivaldo, via Molinetto, phone 0583 228989, opening time 8/12 a.m.-2/6 p.m., e-mail: vigneto-wandanna at

5-The fresco in the parish of St. Piero in Campo (D1)
In the millenary parish of St. Piero in Campo some restoration and strengthening works have been recently done, bringing a Renaissance fresco to light within the boundaries of the apse, under the lime film. It is a painting made "a fresco" on plaster and painted with a '400-'500 technique. It extends from the left side of the apse curvature for four square metres. It shows a picturesque Virgin with her child, St. Rocco at her left and St. Sebastiano at her right, both wearing period costumes. This iconography is frequently found within the ancient lands of Montecarlo: for instance, in the churches of St. Rocco a Vivinaia and St. Giuseppe nel Teso. For visiting the parish of St. Piero and its new fresco contact the building surveyor Giorgio Pieraccini, via della Collegiata 2, phone and fax 0583 22778, cell phone 335 8066036.

6-The cultivation of orchids "Del Bont" (D3)
Montecarlo is not far from Pescia, which is a town known for its flowers. On the plains of St. Piero and St. Salvatore, carnations are produced from more than fifty years, and gissofila, lilium, gerberas and many other flowers are nowadays cultivated. Among the various farms, one which cultivates romantic orchids is the "Azienda Agricola Del Bont". Its producer has installed many semitransparent greenhouses on the lands which once belonged to the Della Gherardescas' farm of St. Piero. Under the greenhouses, he cultivates both Cymbidium Standard and Cymbidium Miniatura, which are sold as either cut flowers or potted plants. In springtime, plants in full bloom can reach 80/100 centimetres in height, and appear to the tourists as a carpet full of pink, fuchsia, yellow or pure white flowers. Azienda Agricola Del Bont Luciano, via Colmata 1 S. Salvatore, phone and fax 0583 228296, e-mail: luisa.delbont at , cell phone 3683336377.

7-The graveyard of Vivinaia and the grave of Cassola (D3)
At the end of the seventeenth century the inhabitants of Montecarlo built a graveyard on the same land where, in February 1331, the inhabitants of Florence had destroyed Vivinaia. For two hundred years Vivinaia has be considered the main "museum" of Montecarlo for its church, sculptures, and the memories of the people mentioned above. Here you can pay a visit to the writer Carlo Cassola's grave, which is on the main court, in the middle of a grass and surrounded by four cypresses. The author of "La ragazza di Bube" and "Il taglio del bosco" lies here from January 1987, under a small bronze statue. The underlying new extension is another jewel of modern graveyard town planning, respecting both the land and the environment.

8-The fountain of Ghnghere within the green area "Comunali" (C3)
The green area "Comunali" is bounded to the north by a well-sheltered small valley, which you can reach on foot only. Here a spring of fresh water gushes which is called "la fontana di Ghnghere" (the fountain of Ghnghere). It originates the meandering rivulet Strigaio, a small stream which flows through the wood of pines, oaks and lofty hollies. A small vineyard skirts the fountain and ends in a grass which in springtime is full of violet crocuses. In summer, this is the ideal place to have delightful picnics protected from the sun and to contemplate nature in silence.
For information on the fountain you can ask to the family living in the nearby.
*The spring is perennial, but, before drinking, be sure its water is safe to drink.

9-The big oak of St. Martino (B2)
The "Quercione del Carrara" (big oak of Carrara) is where the hill of Montecarlo slopes down towards the north side, under the town of St. Martino in Colle. It is a monumental sessile oak (Quercus pubescens), aged more than 500 years, 14 metres in height, 4 metres in trunk girth, and more than 30 metres in branch length. The surrounding grass is a charming place and a romantic resort.
It is handed down that, under this oak, witches would have their sabbaths in full moon nights. It is also handed down that the puppet Pinocchio was hanged just from this oak by the Cat and the Fox. Actually, Collodi is within a stone's throw. The Big oak is always accessible and it is worth taking a photo of it.

10- The potteries "Indaco e Magenta" (C4)
Since 1700 the clayey earth which is used for the production of "Ginori di Doccia" chinaware has been mined from the quarry of Poggio Baldino. The tradition of china production is still living in some small artisan shops of Montecarlo. A pottery and painting workshop called "Indaco e Magenta" is in St. Giuseppe. Artefacts in painted and glazed baked clay originate from the dark blue and dull red local manufacture. The pictures of the Madonna with her child, of votive desks, and of devotion rhombs are typical. Bright azure, violet, yellow and pink enliven the vases devoted to the Saints, the booklets containing poetic maxims and the personalized holy-water fonts. The workshop "Indaco e Magenta" of Tiziana dell'Aitante is in via S. Giuseppe 64/b, phone O583 22680, open all working day afternoons.

11- The "Teso" farm and the wine vault with oak casks (D5)
The eighteenth-century country residence of the "Teso" farm, once called "villa Petri" now called "Chiomenti", is on the level ground of the countryside of Montecarlo, in a wooded scenery between rows of vines and paths of cypresses. Inside the modern building with typical brick sloping roofs and, above, a clock and a bell marking the hours, you can visit a subterranean wine vault. Here, in a silent fresh place, you can find more than eighty oak casks for the aging of the farm wines. At the mezzanine floor, you should also pay attention to the kegs for the aging of the "vinsanto" (sweet wine made with white raisins) and to the typical reed mats for the desiccation of the grapes. "Teso" farm, via Poltroniera, e-mail: info at , open from 3.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m., from Monday to Friday, phone 0583 286288.

12- The animal farm Martinelli (C6)
Going along via Romana, at Gossi, you can get in attractive contact with nature and the rural world. The animal farm Martinelli is along old via Francigena, which led the pilgrims form France to eternal Rome, at the junction with a big oak indicating the place where the battle of Altopascio was fought in 1325. This farm is the Italian "equivalent" of the piglet Babe's one. Hundreds of animals of breed Large White grow up in long buildings surrounded by the greenery of grasses. Have your children ever seen a real piglet? Martinelli Giulio lives in via Romana Trav. 1, 129, phone 0583 276179. Here you can also find the farm holidays "Villa Monica".

13- The exposition of the Minis' wine vaults at Turchetto (A5)
When via Francigena meets via Vinaria, at Turchetto, on the first slopes of the hill of Cercatoia, you can see an elegant high building combining town planning with masonry. Here is the exposition of the Minis' wine vaults, in a parallelepiped built in modern style, on two totally reinforced concrete floors with wood casings. Inside the parallelepiped, which has embossed terraces and a sort of ancient round tower, you can find a 300-square-metre exposition room with a floor in Portuguese red granite. Here the brothers Mini, who are experienced sommeliers, show 200 bottles of aged wine and more than 700 labels of Italian or French wines and distillates, which are arranged on shelves of chestnut of Pascoso. Cantine Mini via di Montecarlo 140, open 8 a.m.-7 p.m., working days, e-mail: at Phone O583 276019.

14- The "Margine dei Barbieri" at Micheloni (B5)
The niche is a solid votive structure of the end of the seventeenth century. It was built on a land prominence, on one side of via Traversa leading from Turchetto to Marginone. It has a brick saddle roof with stone mounds above. Inside the niche, which is closed by a solid forged iron gate, you can see a fresco over a small altar. The fresco by Roberto Pasquinelli from Montecarlo shows the education of the Virgin Mary. The niche has been restored in 1990 by the Costas, as a memorial to their daughter Annamaria, and it is now the place where families announce their children's birth by posting pink and light blue cockades.

15- Websites on Montecarlo and on its wine (C3) is a website on the virtual museum of the vine and wine of Montecarlo. It is a doorway to the town, and allows you to visit the various places and discover the DOC and IGT wines of Lucca and the magic of this ancient land of Tuscany.
Link "Museo della vite e del vino (Museum of vine and wine): Evoluzione culturale del vino (Cultural development of wine), Vino e cultura (Wine and culture), Dalla produzione al consumo (From production to consumption), Didattica (Teaching), Montecarlo e il suo vino (Montecarlo and its wine).
Link "Info.point": Montecarlo e il suo territorio (Montecarlo and its land), Tour delle cantine (Tour of the wine vaults), Prodotti tipici (Typical products), Eventi e cultura (Events and culture), Ristoranti e ricettivit (Restaurants and accommodation), Il vino di Montecarlo in Italia (The wine of Montecarlo in Italy).
Link to the website:
e-mail: bianchi at

English version of "Montecarlo Insolita 2" cured by Dott. Elisa Mattiello;
a special thanks to Sandra Discini for the contribute.
Ciclostilato in proprio da Frediano Pellegrini

Frediano Pellegrini
(local policeman of Montecarlo)
frediano.pellegrini at