Known as Ripomarancia since the 1400s and later Ripomarance and finally, Pomarance, this village at the centre of the Val di Cecina was long fought over by bishops and the municipality of Volterra. In recent decades, Pomarance has experienced a transformation that has seen the medieval village become a modern town.
Pomarance is right in the heart of the Valle del Diavolo, strongly characterised by geysers found all over the area. The scenery is almost lunar, and its extraordinary beauty enchanted even the great poet Dante whose Inferno, it’s said, was inspired by the landscapes here.
Today, the valley is crossed by silver pipes and the cooling towers of various power plants.
The town’s historic centre has three gates, as well as piazza di San Dalmazio and the 12th-century Mugnaini-Ricci house.
The Church of San Giovanni Battista is home to 16th- and 17th-century works by the painter and architect Cristoforo Roncalli, known as Il Pomarancio.
On the façade of the 14th century Town Hall, there are a number of beautiful coats of arms from the 1500s and 1600s.
On the main road stand some Renaissance palaces and the grand palace that once belonged to the Larderel family (French Leghorn industrialists who were responsible for the initial exploitation of the area's natural steam).
The Museum Casa Bicocchi, other than being a perfectly conserved palace both in terms of structure as well as decor, also houses the Soldiers and Artisans permanent exhibition. Several of the Val di Cecina’s archaeological finds are displayed here, from Prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.
Some of the objects exhibited in the museum come from excavations carried out around the Rocca Sillana. It used to be possible to see the entire Val di Cecina right up to the sea from this historic fortification, which strategically built on a hill near Pomarance.
The area is also known for the hamlet of Larderello, where there are important geothermal and industrial plants in the Valle del Diavolo, and where geysers are exploited. Anyone interested in geothermal energy can visit the Geothermics Museum in Larderello, which showcases man’s use of this resource and Lardello’s history as the world’s first point of geothermal energy exploitation and electricity production.
On the second Sunday of September, Pomarance’s four districts compete in the Palio delle Contrade, one of Tuscany’s most unique competitions during which - instead of archers, knights or crossbowmen - amateur actors take to the field for a challenge of theatrical performances.
The stage where the “race” takes place is the Piazzone field where, against the backdrop of large sets, actors from each district perform with a maximum time of 30 minutes.
Pomarancina lamb is one of the area’s specialties. Whilst the breed used to be very widespread (as it was rural and suitable for inaccessible hill pastures), up until a few years ago it seemed destined for extinction. Today, however, Pomarancino Lamb is closely protected and at the heart of various promotion projects, in part thanks to its recognition as a Slow Food Presidium.
Among standout typical products are Pomarance bread and Pomarance ricciarelli, made with almond paste.