The city of Follonica
The city of Follonica
Follonica is located in the center of the gulf of the same name, between Punta Ala and the promontory of Piombino, the small city in front of Elba Island. The name Follonica comes from “fulloni”, the bellows of the ancient smelting furnaces, that were used during the ancient time to produce iron and cast iron and thanks to which the town was renowned since the Medici Age. Important industrial center during Leopold II’s Grand Duchy, Follonica still preserves the ancient Medicean oven, that nowadays is partially used as city library and seat of the Museum of the Iron.
Thanks to the characteristic clear sand and the clearness of its waters, nowadays Follonica is an important tourist destination and has been renamed the “Rimini of Maremma”. The increase of tourism led to the development of some of the best equipped beaches of the whole Tuscan coast, providing infrastructures to perform water sports, sailing and diving. Then you find tennis, soccer, minigolf and skating courts or you can choose one of many itineraries to go deep into the Mediterranean forest on foot, on horseback or by bike . Therefore, you will enjoy a clear sea with the pine tree forest just behind you, with a large green area and playgrounds, so that this will be the perfect location for the whole family.
What to visit in Follonica?
Iron and Steel Historical Area
In the center of the town it is possible to see the famous ILVA Factory , dating back to 1546 and ranking the city as one of the leading Italian center for iron and cast iron production. This rise reached its peak in the mid-19th century. With the grouth of a new center in Piombino, Follonica slowly decreased until the closure of the factory, which took place in 1960. This area is currently recovering, but only as a tourist attraction: it is today the seat of the Museum of Cast Iron Crafts of Maremma (MAGMA) and of the City Library. There is also an artistic Neoclassical cast iron portal that allows the access to the Archaeological and Technological Park of the Grosseto Metalliferous Hills.
The Church of San Leopoldo
A unique example in Italy of a church with a pediment entirely made of cast iron, it was designed and built by the architect Alessandro Manetti from 1836 to 1838. It embodies the highest expression of the huge level of specialization achieved by the foundries of the town. Besides the pediment, even some furnishings, friezes and decorations are maade by cast iron.
Pratoranieri, il Boschetto, il Lido
West of Follonica the three closest beaches are Il Boschetto, Il Lido and Pratoranieri: the last one is the closest to Mare Si Village, but you can also easily reach the others by bike. Il Boschetto beach, which takes its name from the small pine wood behind it, is made up of fine and clear sand, shallow water and still calm water. Pratoranieri and Il Lido are the best equipped beaches of the Gulf and form almost a single beach. On a clear day, from the coast you can see the shapes of Elba, Corsica and Montecristo Islands.
The Granducale Palace
The Granducale Palace, which was built between 1817 and 1822 as a storage for timber and foodstuffs, was renewed in 1845 and used as the residence of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II during his visits to the foundries of Follonica: the first and the second floor were reserved to the Grand Duke and his wife, the third to the servants and to the Inspector of Forestry. Inside the building, partly open today to visitors, it is possible to admire the frescoed ceilings, the stuccos and the beautiful garden; noteworthy is also the white marble bathtub commissioned by Napoleone Bonaparte to Canova’s studio as a gift to his sister Elisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany since 1807. The palace is currently the headquarter of the State Forestry Corps.
What to visit in the surroundings?
What to visit in the surroundings?
The Ruins of the Castle of Valli
The ancient Castle of Valli is located on the hills of Follonica. Since 884 b.C. it was the summer residence of the bishops of Lucca, then became a possession first of the aristocratic Family of Aldobrandeschi, then of Lords of Appiani and finally of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Today the ruins of the ancient and majestic tower can be visited, as well as those of some buildings and part of the walls.
The Medieval village of Scarlino
Very interesting Medieval village dating back to the 13th century, about 12 km far from Follonica, Scarlino is located 250 m above sea level, perched on the Mount Amiata. Many characteristic little streets will lead you directly into the history of this place, through three main entrances to the city: Porta A Mare, Porta Scabris and Porta Della Fonte. Along the Scarlino coast you will meet one of the most famous beaches of the Gulf of Follonica: Cala Violina.
The Archaeological and Technological Park of the Grosseto Metalliferous Hills
As mentioned, one of the entries is located inside the former factory ILVA in Follonica: enter and visit one of the multi-theme parks. It is divided into several areas: Medieval, Etruscan and industrial archeology, tracing back the history of mining, ironing and steeling activities, that have been the main feature of Maremma area for over 500 years. It is today on Unesco’s World Heritage List.
Il Parco Costiero della Sterpaia
The Park of Sterpaia covers an area of 300 hectares on the west coast of the Gulf of Follonica. With its huge oaks, the dunes, the beaches and the pine forest, this park is one of the rare examples of wetland in Italy, the last surviving nature of the ancient landscape in Maremma. Although it is very large, the territory is quite flat, so that it is perfect for daily hikes for families and for disabled persons: scattered in the vegetation, you will find some equipped areas for picnic and getting to the sea several private beaches with facilities.
The Natural Park of Montioni
7,000 hectares of hills, covered by holm oak woods, the Park of Montioni includes 5 different municipalities: Follinica, Massa Marittima, Suvereto, Campiglia Marittima and Piombino. Perfect for nature lovers, here it is possible to find many of the typical fauna of Maremma and of the Mediterranean wood, such as wild boar, fallow deer, roe deer, foxes, weasels, small hedgehogs and porcupines. For those who are fond of bird watching and ornithology, there is also a rich fauna: barn owls, owls, buzzards, sparrow hawks, turtledoves, owls and white hawks. Easy to walk on foot, by bike or on horseback.