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Description

The ancient name Aquae Pisane, attested by Plinio the Elder in the first century BCE, documents San Giuliano’s distant beginnings as the home of an already popular thermal bath area, which flourished around two different sources from which water flows at different temperatures.
The town had always been a holiday resort, and still attracts international tourism today. The small hamlet, on the slopes of Monte Pisano, is adorned by impressive historic villas, while the surroundings offer interesting Romanesque parish churches and the remains of towers and medieval fortresses testify to the battles between Pisa and Lucca during the Middle Ages.
The vast territory has a special microclimate because of its nearness to hills as well as to the sea. This has created very rich and mixed vegetation, where it is possible to identify even rare species that can grow only in particular conditions.
The fauna is equally plentiful with many species of wild animals; the territory has two protected natural areas: Monte Castellare, with its evergreens and the famous archaeological excavations of the “Buche delle Fate” (karst caves); and the Valle delle Fonti, with the many springs that pour out along the Medici aqueduct, as far as Pisa.

Information
Via XX Settembre , 1
56017 San Giuliano Terme
t. +39 050 815064
www.visitsangiulianoterme.it/it

Geographical area
Monte Pisano

Population
over 31.000

Distance from Pisa
5,5 km

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Culture

Historic dwellings
Along the ancient road to Lucca at the foot of Monte Pisano are villas and residences erected over the centuries by Pisan nobility, today all members of ADSI, the Association of Historic Italian Houses. An itinerary for the most demanding offers a chance to come face to face with the ‘manner’ of the great architects and artists who designed, built and painted them, turning them into true gems where it is also possible to book a stay.

The Rupecava Hermitage
This Augustinian monastic complex named after Santa Maria ad Martyres is the oldest hermitage on Monte Pisano. Built in the fourth century, it is now in a state of neglect, although a restoration project is underway. The polychrome wooden Madonna, attributed to the great primitive sculptor Andrea Pisano, was originally housed in the monastery and is now kept in the Pieve di Ripafratta parish church.

Cerratelli Foundation
The Cerratelli Foundation was founded in 2005 in San Giuliano Terme at the Casa d’Arte Cerratelli, a company Arturo Cerratelli created in the early twentieth century. It is now a gem in the world of international dressmaking, handed down from generation to generation. Today, the foundation, whose Honorary President is Franco Zeffirelli, holds over 25,000 historical theatrical costumes. Zeffirelli’s film Romeo and Juliet won the Oscar for costume design. These exquisite works of tailoring, created by the most prestigious costume designers for dance, theatre, opera, cinema and television, are on display for visitors and enthusiasts in the magnificent setting of Villa Roncioni. Visitors can also these precious garments and realize their dream of wearing the clothing used in famous films by renowned directors such as Eduardo De Filippo, Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli.

Museo Radico
The Museum, which opened in 2013, has brought in a new age of food culture and farm work. With themed displays of tools and objects for work from centuries past, it attempts to gain an understanding of our peasant roots: the work of a people that cultivated not only food but also social and scientific culture. The museum is organized into six themed sections and focuses on work to produce food and preserve the land that generates it. There is a special focus on ancient grains.

Pieve di San Marco parish church in Rigoli
The present-day building is designed as a basilica with three apses and has features characteristic of eleventh-century architecture, evident especially in the apses. The interior and the façade likely date to the twelfth century. Evidence of the early medieval building can be seen in the baptismal font, a longobard work from the eighth or ninth century. The church has a valuable painted panel depicting the Madonna on the throne with angels, the work of Turino Vanni, a painter from Pisa who worked in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The church is also used as a setting for weddings and ceremonies.

Pieve di Santa Maria and San Giovanni Battista parish church in Pugnano
This austere parish church, mentioned in a document from 1069, probably already existed in the eighth century. It stands along the ancient Via Lungomonte that connected Pisa and Lucca. The unusual structure with two naves, only one of which has an apse, is the result of an unfinished expansion of a thirteenth-century building. Separate from the church stands the imposing bell tower, rebuilt in 1965 after it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1944, with architectural features quite different from the ancient defence tower.

Rocca di Ripafratta
The fortress marks the border between the provinces of Pisa and Lucca. It occupies a strategic position high on the Serchio river. It was built in the Middle Ages, atop a hill in the hamlet of Ripafratta, and was part of the system of control towers characteristic in this area, as far as the sea. A restoration project is also underway here, managed by the Associazione Salviamo la Rocca.

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Food and wine

Chestnuts
Monte Pisano’s chestnuts and chestnut products.

Mushrooms
Mushroom hunting – especially porcini mushrooms – on Monte Pisano.

Oil
The municipality is part of the Monti Pisani Strada dell’Olio “oil road”.

Torta coi Bischeri
This traditional sweet of Pisa – and of San Giuliano, Pontasserchio and Vecchiano in particular – is a tart filled with chocolate, rice, raisins and pine nuts. Bischeri are the points of the shortcrust pastry around the edge of the tart.

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Activities for visitors

Monte Castellare
The Monte Castellare nature area stretches over 240 hectares on the hills that separate the Arno and Serchio rivers. This area is famous for the marble quarries that were used as far back as the Etruscans and the Romans. It features considerable karst topography, such as the Buca delle Fate, a 185-metre-deep cave popular for spelunking.

Monte Pisano
From Ripafratta to San Giovanni alla Vena for a total of over 40 km. Spectacular views completely surrounded by nature. For expert hikers.

Paragliding on the Monti Pisani
Paragliding is a very popular sport in the Monti Pisani mountains. In spite of the limited altitude differences, the sea winds make it possible to rise up to 800 metres, and sometimes to 1,500. From those heights, you are free to admire the plain that lies between Pisa and Lucca, flying independently or with an instructor.

Nature trails
Five routes through the local network of protected areas.

CAI section trails
The CAI, or Club Alpino Italiano, charts and manages numerous trails for both beginners and experienced hikers.

Thermal baths
The beneficial thermal waters are recommended for therapy for the respiratory tract, rheumatism and the circulatory system. They were already famous in Etruscan and Roman times, and were the summer residence of the Grand Duke of Lorraine, often frequented by illustrious guests including Montaigne, Alfieri, Lord Byron and Shelley. Today the magnificent historical structures, restored and modernized, rank among the most up-to-date spas in Italy.

Valle delle Fonti
Above the village of Asciano stretches a valley crossed by the Zambra river as well as many other small waterways and springs. This is why the Medicis built an aqueduct to channel these waters to Pisa, 6 kilometres away.

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Camper area