The Etruscans at Volterra already knew these places for the alabaster quarries. Indeed, there has always been a connection between Castellina Marittima and the quarries. In fact, an alabaster ecomuseum has been established in collaboration with Volterra and Santa Luce, the other municipalities that have most exploited the large quantities of this sedimentary rock in the subsoil. The medieval town of Castellina was located in a strategically important position, near the coast, and was controlled first by the Counts of Gherardesca and then by the Medicis, who made it a marquisate. An earthquake in 1846 destroyed part of the town, though there were no casualties.
This museum speaks of the excavation, working and sale of alabaster across the municipalities of Castellina Marittima, Santa Luce and Volterra. From the Museo Guarnacci’s Etruscan finds to the artisan workshops, we can retrace the history of a stone and of the community whose economy was based on taking advantage of this wealth. The central point of the museum’s excavation route is located in Castellina Marittima, at the former Massimino Carrai Opera House. The local excavation archives for the route are in Santa Luce and the archives for the stoneworking industry itinerary are in Volterra.
Pieve di San Giovanni Decollato
This is the ancient local church, and its name passed on to the eighteenth-century parish. Tradition has it that it was built on the foundations of an older temple. Despite major renovations, it still preserves some evidence of the original Romanesque structure.
Food and wine
Tradition and modern technology are perfectly integrated in the production of a very fragrant extra virgin olive oil with a balanced taste and low acidity – organic too.
The vines of the hills of Castellina are cultivated with great care by small and large local companies that produce quality red and white wines.
Calcium sulphate dihydrate, or alabaster, is the great treasure of these territories. The geological events of approximately sixty million years ago affected the subsoil around Castellina, creating a large gypsum basin in the Marmolaio riverbed. Alabaster may be the gypsum type or the calcite type; the kind found here is the former, formed by sedimentation of the purest parts of the gypsum and found very deep, so that it was not altered by infiltration of water carrying minerals as in the more superficial layers. Millions of years of sedimentation have made it possible for the artisans of Castellina to work the fine white “della Castellina” statuary alabaster as well as the opaline “scaglione” alabaster.
Activities for visitors
CAI Nature Trails
The CAI has plotted five routes in the municipality of Castellina Marittima, so that visitors can discover forests, streams and hills white with snow in winter, and meet foxes, roe deer and birds of prey. This collaboration of the CAI with the Province of Pisa offers approximately 30 km to explore in the calm and tranquillity of this small town.