Just 50 years ago, the water was the enemy. The sweet darkness to be to feared. To cage, to ignore, to resist. Today that water, represented by the Pesa river and his older brother, the Arno, are allies. To grow, to heal and be able to return more than it asks. And then it's off to cross the many kilometres of cycle track passing through the territory of Montelupo and running right along the Pesa. It offers hidden treasures from a Roman Villa and a church that’s become the Archaeological Museum to a Medici Villa and a tree-lined street that has offered shade to generations in search of refreshment and a conversation. A tunnel of enchanted poplars that embody an unexpected beauty. Starting is easy, stopping is tough. But you can also choose to take another road, the one that runs along the Arno and through places unknown even to citizens of the most ancient roots. "Behind” the houses of the terracotta makers.
Take a moment then set off for the centre of Montelupo. A boat still speaks of the water, but we are on the earth. Old photos testify a social life, today as before. Take Via Baccio, aka Bartolomeo Sinibaldi – a first-rate artist - and follow it up to the loggia. You have arrived at the palazzo del Podestà. Headquarters until 1982 of the City council and then until 2008, the Museo della Ceramica. You will find some nice exhibitions or an event to admire. Or you can lose yourself in the streets. By chance, you will find statues, artwork, presences watching you. Perhaps it’s time to visit the Museo della Ceramica.
Samminiatello or San Miniatello? Today the first, yesterday definitely the latter. The homeland of the tamers of fire, land and water. The home of terracotta, where out of a piece of mud, a jar is made in such a way that one wonders how something could be made from nothing. The narrow houses follow an even narrower road. Here were the kilns and there are still men working these primordial elements, older than humanity itself.
The climb to the "Castello" is tiring, especially as you search for a castle that is not there. There is a beautiful priory. But open your eyes. Rest and look over Montelupo’s landscape. Read it like a book. Just like a book, this too was written by men. Even without drones, you can fly over the houses, the churches and the breathtaking scenery. Sweaty but happy.
There is no landscape, artwork, workshop, home, church, land or river if there is no man. What holds it all together is precisely human activity. "He who visits Montelupo Fiorentino today, finds friendly people, excellent food and a myriad of furnaces," said Carlo M. Cipolla 30 years ago. Certainly many things have changed in Montelupo since then, but the warmth and friendliness of its inhabitants remain. Come back often. Maybe in June, when the 25-year-old festival devoted to ceramics brings together all the elements we have mentioned, along with the decisive presence of the fifth.