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Consorzio Turistico Volterra
There is a corner of Tuscany that resembles the Iceland of geysers. No endless green expanses furrowed by a single road, no extreme cold and darkness for most of the year. But the same simmering of that pot called Earth, the same puffs apparently threatening but which in reality only attest to a geothermal activity that has been going on for millions of years and will continue for a long time to come.
Columns of white vapors rising from the ground, boiling water and an evocative panorama reminiscent of the lunar surface. This is the Valle del Diavolo (Devil’s Valley), where geothermal energy, or heat coming out of the earth, has been exploited to produce electricity. It is so called because of the presence of boraciferous dandelions, famous already in the time of Dante, who was inspired by this landscape to describe the Hell in the “Divine Comedy”.
When we talk about geothermal energy we imagine gray industries, huge pipes and smoking chimneys, mining wells similar to oil ones. A landscape largely altered by human hands. However, the fascination that geothermal phenomena, such as geysers and fumaroles, exert on the visitors of the Fumarole Park in Sasso Pisano or that of the Biancane in Monterotondo Marittimo, of the Geothermal Museum in Larderello, the capital of geothermal energy and gateway to the area.
News on geothermal phenomena date back to antiquity. A Roman military map of the 3rd century AD, indicated two thermal spots in Volterra and Populonia, with many hot lakes. Only in the 18th century, thanks to the work of the engineer Francesco De Larderel, an industrial activity for the exploitation of geothermal waters bagan. First to produce boric acid, then, with the first experiment of 1904, to produce electricity.
As many as 16 Tuscan municipalities are involved in the mining activity, four of which are in the province of Pisa: Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, Montecatini Val di Cecina, Monteverdi Marittimo and Pomarance.