Hiking between Volterra and the coast
Pomarance is located in the Alta Val di Cecina, a region with a rich past and picturesque nature. Unlike other parts of Tuscany, this zone is unknown to the masses. The landscape consists of rolling, green hills interspersed with high rock formations.
The geological origin of this area, also known as the metal hills, is volcanic. The hills are rich in metal ores. There are also salt mines, hot springs and geysers. The latter are used for energy extraction. Together with agriculture, these form the most important income for the local population. Because of this wealth, people have been able to continuously live in the region. The medieval natural stone villages are still quaint but lively. Various nature parks were created in the 1990s to protect the unique flora and fauna in the maquis. The combination of tranquillity, nature and culture makes this area ideal for a walking holiday along unpaved paths.
Geologically, the region is turbulent and relatively young. Hence the many erratic rocks, minerals and geothermal activities. Since time immemorial, hot springs and geysers have been the source of legends that lend them magical properties. The thermal baths of San Michele were already known in Antiquity for their healing effect. According to legend, a clock fell from the higher monastery and thus the hot springs were created. The picturesque ruin of the building from the 15th century houses several baths with different temperatures.
The geysers from the Devil Valley near Larderello were the first in the world to generate electricity in 1905. Even today, the volcano's geysers (last eruption in 1282) are an important source of electricity.
Several ores and minerals have been mined over the centuries, peaking in the 18th century. In all likelihood, the Etruscans from nearby Volterra were the first to mine copper, salt and boric acid. During the Middle Ages people also found alabaster, brown coal, quartz and magnesium. The mining of ornamental stones boomed in the 18th century. During that period, a railroad was built from the mines in Monterufoli to the lower valley, through forests and over rivers. Today, traces of this mining industry can still be found in the forests. Hidden paths run past old shafts, overgrown mine buildings, derelict railroad bridges and beautiful stones.
Nature reserve Monterufoli-Caselli
Situated in the middle of the metal hills, between Volterra and the coast, the reserve comprises a large, unspoilt area with maquis and oak forests. The area is rich in water and is known for its enormous biodiversity.
Maquis is a typical Mediterranean combination of evergreen shrubs and low trees. It is a dense, fast-growing vegetation that you cannot cut through without a path. This allows nature to take its own course and more than 770 plant species have been counted. Orchids, wild tulips and saffron plants grow among the oaks and on the edge of the forest.
The many rivers with crystal clear water are ideal drinking places for the animals: wild boar, deer, mouflon, badgers, weasels and in recent years even wolves. Do not fear, contrary to what is told in fairy tales, wolves are shy animals and harmless to humans!