Beaches bordered by evergreen pinewoods; clumps of Mediterranean scrub that alternate with meadows, vines and olive trees; and higher up, the rough and stony summits of mountain ranges. These are the Metalliferous Hills, a slice of Tuscany which, surrounded by the provinces of Livorno, Pisa, Siena and Grosseto, comes together, in its limited scope, to make a place of endless natural variation and rich cultural heritage.
These hills offer a vivid cross-section of the veins of metal ore that have nestled here over the centuries. From the times of Etruscan settlements to our own century, the economic activity of this territory has always been based on the extraction of metals, such as copper, iron and silver, resources in which the subsoil of the area is especially rich. Even today this mineral history can be read through the archaeological finds left over the centuries by the Etruscan, Roman and medieval civilizations. Mines, iron and steel furnaces and old ironworks are spread around the coastal areas, while picturesque medieval villages decorate the tops and slopes of these hills.
The placid scenery changes around the spectacular geothermic fields which extend from Larderello in the province of Pisa to Monterotondo Marittimo in the province of Grosseto. Here the vegetation gives way to sulphuric gases and fumaroles, puffs of aqueous vapour and gases that escape from the numerous fissures in the soil. The smoky craters and the puddles of boiling mud, defining features of this wild and barren land, give the landscape an almost infernal aspect, leading certain historians to believe that this place was the inspiration for a passage in the first canticle of the Divine Comedy. The point of departure of each excursion must be reached by car.