We were working hard, we the workers of Cav. Domenico Giusti, father of the poet, when in the spring of 1849 there was a wonderful discovery. After we had removed with great effort a huge boulder, a gap opened through the stones and to our surprise ... we noticed water. We went inside the cave, armed with torches, and in front of us opened a grandiose spectacle of nature: the temperature in the wide cave was very high like that of underground lakes. Upon learning of the presence of a cave, Cav. Domenico Giusti visited the mysterious environment, noting the wonders present in the Monsummano Hill. In the years immediately following its discovery, the healing virtues of the steam baths in the cave of Monsummano spread. To think that it was defined by Giuseppe Verdi as "the eighth wonder of the world".
Monsummano Terme has a geological route worth exploring…the Red Quarries, the famous hills that stand high just behind Monsummano Terme. As soon as you arrive in the town, if you direct your gaze upward, you’ll immediately notice the hill cut like a large staircase: these were the quarries. They’ve now been abandoned and partially covered with cypress trees and wild vegetation, covering damages to the mountain. Their name is due to the presence of iron oxide that composes the rock; here you’ll arrive at the only road that can take you to the Grotta Giusti.
The story that led to the founding of
Monsummano, linked to prodigious events that happened in the last decades of
the 16th century. Legend says on June 9, 1573 the shepherdess Jacopa, perhaps of the Mariotti family, gathered in
prayer before the tabernacle along the road that ran through the marshy area of
the valley. Caught up in prayer, the girl realized she had lost her flock,
which, invoked by the Virgin, found themselves summoned under a tree. More miracles followed, multiplying the
offerings of the pilgrims who flocked to pray at the small chapel built on the outskirts
called "Pozzo Vecchio". On July 7, 1602, after a long period of
drought, a pure water source near that oratory suddenly sprang from the rock. Founded thanks to Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici, the Basilica della Madonna delle Fontenuova is both the historic heart and urban benchmark of Monsummano Terme
Climbing up a hill luxuriant in olive trees we eventually reach Montevettolini, founded as a fortification in the 12th century. Paying witness to this era are the Town Hall and the Parish Church of San Michele. After various ups and downs, linked to the fighting among Tuscany's war-faring towns, with the arrival of the Medici family, the grand dukes chose Montevettolini as their hunting place, building one of their homes here.
Monsummano Terme extends into the Tuscany “From Leonardo to Pinocchio”, that is, from the hills of Vinci and Montalbano to the steep slopes of Collodi. A land that “is a sort of suspended wonder”.