Montecatini Terme is a city in the County of Pistoia in Tuscany. Often defined as garden city due to the presence of imposing thermal and public parks, it is renowned in the world for its thermal waters (springs), that are good for gastrointestinal processes and for cholesterol. Most of its thermal and historical buildings are in Art Nouveau style, some are decorated by Galileo Chini, the most famous Art Nouveau artist in Italy. Montecatini Terme is one of 11 "Great Spa Towns of Europe", a transcontinental UNESCO world heritage site.
You can arrive to Montecatini Terme by
- Car: A11 highway Exit Montecatini Terme)
- Train: a train every ½ hour stops in the 2 train stations: 1 Montecatini Centro, 2 Montecatini Terme-Monsummano) on the railway line linking Florence and Lucca
- Bus: the public transportation operated by Blu Bus links Montecatini Terme within the city, Valdinievole, Pistoia and other cities in the nearby)
Walking is the best solution, considering that the touristic part of the town is 1.5 km (0.92 miles) wide.
Montecatini Terme is included in a lot of mountain bike and cycling tours and itineraries, as well as trekking itineraries, linking the area and the rest of Tuscany. An app is available for the major trekking and cycling paths.
Montecatini Alto was the original village: documents state that it's been on top of a hill of 300 m overlooking Valdinievole since the Roman empire, due to its view over the valley. During the Middle Ages, Montecatini Alto was strategically important due to the presence of salts in its land and its position between Florence and Lucca. By the 16th century, the Padule marshlands, which had covered all of Montecatini Terme, had been drained. Later on the thermal springs became the most important business for the area: the Grandduke Leopoldo of Tuscany made this the most important thermal spa in the world.
The Tettuccio Terme was built in the late 18th century by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold of Habsburg-Lorraine, the son of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. The first three spas that were built were the Tettuccio, the Regina and Leopoldine. These spas made Montecatini Terme famous all over Europe, and a favorite place for the rich and the royalty. Famous visitors included Giacomo Puccini, who composed part of La Boheme here, and Giuseppe Verdi, who spent his holidays here for over 29 years and inaugurated the Funicolare.
Montecatini Terme is in the Valdinievole, the south Valdarno area (the land of Leonardo da Vinci) which is part of the province of Pistoia. The area has been marshy ever since the Roman age, as noted by Tito Livio and Annibale, with thermal springs that are extremely rich in minerals and salts and well known for their healing effects. Romans underlined the "holiness" of these waters.
Tuscany has many thermal spas. The largest and most famous of them is Montecatini Terme.
Montecatini Terme is a beautiful town that was built around its mineral water springs. The spring water is considered to help people with trouble with the stomach or liver. Healthy people can enjoy the old time grandeur of the town, stroll in the park or enjoy spa treatments in the various hotels.
The most famous spa in town is the Tettuccio Terme located on the main street of Montecatini Terme - Viale Verdi, next to the park. on the same street you can find the municipality building and the tourist information center.
These days the spa treatments have advanced and they include many modern methods of massage, mud pack treatments and hydrotherapy.
- Go to the Tettuccio Spa building to admire the liberty architecture and plants from all over the world, or Excelsior spa building, or Redi Spa building to have a treatment (mud, termal-water massages, beauty and relax). General Address: Terme di Montecatini Viale Verdi, 64 ph +39 0572 7781
- Funicular, Viale Diaz, 22, ☏ , email@example.com. Take the 1898 cablecar to Montecatini Alto. The historic part of this medieval "borgo" offers a spectacular view over Montecatini Terme and a typical square full of inviting restaurants and pubs. Funicular is open between 1 April and 1 November every year.
- Hike on the hill of Montecatini Alto, or bike around the city: download the apo on outdoor activities in Montecatini Terme (free download)
- Listen to a classical music concert of the "Estate Regina" festival
- Eat Cialda di Montecatini, the special sweet of the city: the Cialda di Montecatini is a wafer cake to be eaten with ice cream or with Vin Santo, available in shops and in restaurant throughout the city
- Montecatini Terme and its shops attracts many visitors coming just to have a walk in the commercial streets of the town-centre (Corso Matteotti, Corso Roma, Viale Verdi, Viale 4 Novembre...). It's easy to stand in front of the many boutique windows in a daze.
- Cialde in a can. A typical biscuit that preserves freshness for long time: perfect for a gift!
- Souvenirs can be found in the Grocco Market or in Montecatini Alto (upper town).
A must is to taste the "Cialde" the Montecatini Terme biscuit made with just almonds and sugar into two thin wafers - about the size of a Chinese pancake, and reminiscent of the very best quality ice cream wafers. Available in boxes, along with other specialities such as pan forte, from impressive patisserie, Giovanini, just off main square.
Here are some typical and popular dishes of the Valdinievole area
- First courses:
Farro soup, Pappa al Pomodoro, Ribollita, Farinata, Maccheroni sull'Anatra Muta, Pasta e Fagioli, Pasta e Ceci.
- Second courses:
Trippa, Fegatelli nel Lardo, Baccalà alla Livornese, Cioncia, Tordi sott' olio. Side dish: Fagioli all'Uccelletto.
- Desserts: Castagnaccio, Necci con ricotta, Brigidini, Buccellato, Cantuccini, Befanotti Glassati
- Angela Chiado, 924 Jefferson NE.
Vin Santo: sweet wine, the one drunk by the priest during the Mass.
Enjoy a cocktail or an aperitif in a best locations with music: at the "bar storico" in the Tettuccio spa or in the Gambrinus open gallery. Refresh in the Montecatini Alto square after a walk to the "rocca" fortress or along the walls.
- 1 Hotel Ercolini e Savi, Via San Martino, 18, ☏ , fax: . 4-star hotel very close to the train station (400 m) and to Corso Matteotti. La Pecora Nera inner restaurant prepares excellent dishes from the typical Tuscan cuisine. Services: special spa agreements, private events, tours and car renting, parking, special menus for coeliacs, terrace and bar, free wifi.
- Hotel Mediterraneo, Via P. Baragiola, 1, ☏ , fax: . Ample & comfortable rooms overlook the greenery of the thermal park. The friendly staff serve a exquisite typical cuisine and, with the owners, contribute to built an ideal family-atmosphere.
- 2 Grand Hotel Tettuccio, Viale Giuseppe Verdi 74 - 51016 (in downtown Montecatini Terme, facing viale Giuseppe Verdi and right in front of the Parco termale (Thermal Park)), ☏ , fax: .
- 3 Hotel San Marco Montecatini Terme, Viale Carlo Rosselli, 3, ☏ , fax: . The San Marco is a 3-star hotel. Single, double, triple and family rooms. Private bath, Wi-Fi access, internet point, private parking, swimming pool and tennis court. €66 double.
- Grand Hotel Croce di Malta (Grand Hotel Croce di Malta), Viale IV Novembre, 18, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. In the heart of the park, near the city centre. min €65, max €120.
- 4 [dead link] Hotel Arnolfo, Via Trieste, 31, ☏ , fax: . Three-star hotel with spa and beauty center, restaurant, meeting room, lounge bar. Bike hotel service is available.
- 5 [dead link] Hotel Royal Palace Montecatini Terme, Viale Bicchierai, 113, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Four-star hotel in the centre of the town, close to the railway station and to the A11 motorway exit. The hotel features single, double, triple and family rooms and has a restaurant and a bar, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness room. A car park and a garage are available for guests. €69.
- Grand Hotel Panoramic, Viale Mario Bustichini, 65, ☏ , email@example.com. The Grand Hotel Panoramic is 10 minutes on foot from the centre of Montecatini Terme, in a peaceful and quiet environment in the green area of the town. It features a little spa area, a private garden, a wide pool, a restaurant, rooms and suites for families and couples. The Wi-Fi is free, breakfast is complimentary.
Nearby art-cities are easily reachable by bus or train but if you like the quiet medieval towns and villas around Montecatini Terme, the only solution is by car. Trains take approximately 30 minutes to Lucca, an hour to Pisa (usually involving a change at Lucca) and Florence.
Few travel agencies organize day trips. Consider them if you are without (rented) car and want to visit San Gimignano (many changes by public transport). There are daily trips in the season to locations such as Florence, Lucca, Siena/San Gimingnano, the coast, and local wine tastings: details from Tourist Information Centre, or leaflets in hotels.
- Grotto of Monsummano - A lime cave with hot rooms and a steaming lake that are considered to cure people who enter it. "Grotta Giusti" also provide a big outdoor thermal swimming-pool and other spa-treatments.