The passion of the ancient Romans for thermal waters is well known. Pliny the Elder mentions “the Pisan waters” several times for their restorative qualities and the remains of an ingenious aqueduct built with eight arches is testament to Roman presence in the area. An interest remained in the water over the centuries with the Countess Matilda di Canossa radically restoring the thermal baths for the first time in 1112. A detailed description of the facility is given in a document from 1568 that states that there were eight bathrooms as well as a small church. Following this, houses were built, then a hospital and a tavern. Dark times were also experienced here, first with the plague in 1630, then typhus in 1648 when the thermal baths fell into disrepair. The Lorraine revived the area in 1700 with investments that vastly improved the San Giuliano area.
With the redevelopment of the Pisan plain, many Pisan and Florentine families chose to build their villas at the foot of the Pisan Mountains, attracted by the landscape and the favourable climate. The Grand Duchy of Tuscany brought about a phenomenon that became typical of tourist and seaside resorts: the number of bathers and vacationers exceeds that of the inhabitants. Many of the vacationers are in fact famous. A French astronomer, Jerome Lalande kept a diary in the early 1700s in which he scrupulously noted details of his spa holiday, praising the structure and its ballroom, game room and terraces for strolling. Other noted names include Charles XIII, King of Sweden, the royal prince of England (future King George IV), Vittorio Alfieri, the countess of Albany, Gustavo III, King of Sweden and later General Murat, the poets Shelly and Byron, Carlo Alberto, Giacomo Puccini and many others.
Corliano is one of the oldest and best preserved villas in Tuscany, rife with mysterious legends. An example of which is Donna Teresa, who lived between the end of the 18th and 19th centuries. An unusual and extravagant person, she was excessive for her time. It’s said that she drove the carriage drawn by six horses by herself. Daughter of the owners of the villa, she was so fascinated by the home that she didn't want to leave it, even after her death. Her ghost is said to still roam among the imposing rooms of the villa. Even more curious is the story of a surgeon who seems to have carried out experiments on the human body in the basement. Mary Shelley, the English writer and author of the novel Frankenstein made even more famous by the film, stayed in the villa several times and may have been inspired by the doctor's experiments. Another clue? The doctor was called Francesco La Pietra, Franken Stein in German.