The oldest inscriptions uncovered in Pergine read AQUAE FERVENTES SIVE NINFAS. Signs of Etruscan-Roman civilization have left a profound mark – and not by chance – on this area, which has always been intersected by some of the longest, most important roads. The very name Pergine seems to be of Etruscan origin. Among the various vestiges of the past, this lead sheet with an inscription dedicated to the gods of water – aquae ferventes – stands out. Worship in this area was inspired by the springs that bubble up to the surface and the powerful jets of carbon dioxide in the springs of Poggio Bagnoli. Much later, in the modern age, these would also become well-known for their industrial use in carbon dioxide recovery.
All of us know full well that water flow makes one think about the passage of time – in its own way, it prompts us to reflect on our memories. So it’s really no coincidence that in Pergine you’ll find the Cultural Center of Memories and Contemporaneity. The center includes the civic library, the historical archives, video and photo archive, the Cardini plot (for cinema) and a huge collection of documents on local identity: they span recurring cultural events, film festivals, and the European cultural village, all the way up to the Robert Katz Archive. The archive – donated by the City of the recently deceased American writer and journalist – documents important aspects of Italian history from the second half of the twentieth century, coming from the perspective of an attentive observer, keenly aware of Italian political happenings. The Center aims to support the community’s cultural needs and conserve the memory and key traces of local identity.
Among the most carefully guarded “memories” of our local tradition are olive growing and production of renowned extra-virgin olive oil. This historic work is such a key part of our tradition that it’s literally shaped our land: you can see how that looks and what that means by exploring the Via dell’Olio (Oil Road), an approximately 10km loop.
If you want to continue exploring nature, another ideal spot to check out is the Nature Reserve of Bandella, which protects the stretch of the Arno River between the Levane and Ponte Romito dam. The river waters here spill out calmly, forming a lake known as the Lago di Levane. This is the true heart of this beautiful protected area. In various periods of the year, you can observe numerous bird species.