For those who know it as a tourist resort, it might seem strange to learn that Cecina has ancient origins. Some archaeological finds date the first settlements back to the stone age, and even to the Neolithic period. Like much of the Tyrrhenian coast, it was an important center in the Etruscan period first and then in Roman times. It was named after a Roman consul, Albino Cecina, who ordered the construction of a villa here, the remains of which are still visible. More than a villa, it was really a grand residential complex with a large estate. The villa was equipped with an underground cistern for collecting rainwater and had an extensive and functional water network. It also included a spa, as did many of the ancient Roman villas. During excavations in the area, numerous artifacts were found that are now kept in the Archaeological Museum of Cecina.
The long line of dunes that characterize this part of the coast have a name: Tomboli. These small sand hills covered with vegetation are part of the biogenetic nature reserve of the Tomboli di Cecina and have the purpose of defending the inland areas from salt and sea winds. One of the most beautiful Italian reserves, it’s a place of pure peace and tranquility just a few steps from the sea. The pine forest was created by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopoldo, in 1800. Today, there are 15 kilometers of Mediterranean scrub, pine forest and sand dunes with a very rich vegetation including lily and sea poppy as well as juniper bushes and holm oaks.
Cecina was also an industrial city, it only had one large factory but it was especially important. Even today, you can still see the structure of what was once the sugar refinery, in particular, the tower which is clearly visible even from afar. The sugar factory started around 1899 and was at the peak of its success until the 1920s. Thousands of people worked in the factory turning beets into sugar. Heavy truck traffic characterized the life of the city, which was otherwise very quiet at the time. The business continued with various ups and downs until 1987, when the plant was definitively closed. In addition to the job opportunities offered by the factory, the locals also remember the particularly sweet and syrupy air during days of production. Photographer Roberto Nencini dedicated a beautiful photographic reportage to its history.