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The water route with fountains and thermal baths

It is the waterways that give life and unite populations. Each historical era narrates the links between what, in the very near future, will be called "blue gold" and the development of society. Tuscany is rich in rivers and springs that have supplied water to thermal baths, churches, parish churches and old mills. 

Along the itinerary at the Siena Water Museum, it is possible to get an understanding of the network of aqueducts created to intercept aquifers and channel the water from distant springs into underground tunnels. About twenty-five kilometres of underground tunnels known as Bottini have, since ancient times, brought water to this city of the Palio from the springs of: Fonte di Pescaia, Fontebranda, Fonte d’Ovile and Fonte Gaia in Piazza del Campo.

Fonte Gaia
Fonte Gaia in Piazza del Campo a Siena

Cities without large water supplies needed to look for springs in order to build and supply water to the public fountains. In San Gimignano, the medieval water pipeline is still a very evocative route to visit and a path to discover through the Porta delle Fonti, following the flow of the water. It is that flowing water that accompanies us through the landscape and art, through the medieval villages of the Val d’Orcia like at Bagno Vignoni, in Piazza delle Sorgenti, where the thermal waters gush out from the volcanic subsoil into an ancient pool. 
Grand Duke Cosimo I, who identified with the ancient Caesar Augustus, also wanted to give a demonstration of merit by regulating the waters. The ingenious idea was to build a Medici Aqueduct to carry water from the Valle delle Fonti in Asciano Pisano to Pisa: it is a six-kilometre route accomplished by the Medici family's successors over the centuries and it still functioning today. In Florence, the ancient Roman baths in the city centre received water from the fountain of Monte Morello, the same water bringing to life the beautiful water features of the large fountain by Ammannati, located in the Medici Garden of Pratolino. It was in Florence, in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, that Cosimo I decided to build the symbol of his power, the city's first public fountain: the Fountain of Neptune created by Ammannati. 

Dettaglio del volto del Nettuno
Fontana del Nettuno in Piazza della Signoria a Firenze

A sophisticated aqueduct that collected the waters from the spring of the Ginevra or Baluardo di San Giorgio (Bastion of San Giorgio), near the gate of the same name, descended to the San Miniato gate to cross the Ponte alle Grazie, reaching Piazza Peruzzi, followed by Borgo dei Greci and then Piazza della Signoria. The Grand Duke made a Concession for a small detour to be made towards Palazzo Gondi in Piazza San Firenze, to supply water to the splendid fountain in the centre of the courtyard. Only after the purchase of the land that formed the Boboli Gardens, in the mid-sixteenth century, the waters from the Florentine hills and the spring of the Ginevra were channelled into the water basins under the bowl of the Fountain of Neptune, half way up the steps in the garden.

  • Progetto finanziato a valere sui fondi Legge n. 77 del 20 febbraio 2006 “Misure speciali di tutela e fruizione dei siti italiani di interesse culturale, paesaggistico e ambientale, inseriti nella “lista del patrimonio mondiale”, posti sotto la tutela dell’UNESCO”