Follonica and surroundings: what to see and what to do
It's more than a conventional summer destination!
Follonica and its gulf are situated between the promontory of Piombino and Punta Ala, in front of the Elba Island. The Tyrrhenian Sea laps its shores and the Colline Metallifere area surrounds it. The nearest main town is Grosseto, situated about 40 kilometres northwest of the city. The origins of the area are ancient: it was already settled in Etruscan and Roman times. Evidence of this is the medieval castle dating to 884, known as Castello di Valli, which still overlooks the modern town from a nearby hill.
A bit of history
The name Follonica has ancient origins and derives from the word “fulloni”, the antique bellows used for furnaces. In fact, in the past Follonica was known for working and casting iron. It became an important industrial centre during the kingdom of grand duke Leopold II of Tuscany, who founded the Reali e Imperiali Fonderie (Royal and Imperial Foundries) in 1834. A modern steel and iron factory was built close to the antique Medicean furnace and, today, some buildings have been converted into an iron museum and a library. After the industrial crisis of 1970 with the closing of the steel industry, Follonica invested in the summer tourism, due to the presence of sandy and rocky beaches protected by pine forests.
What to see and do in Follonica
The Iron museum preserves and collects tools from the Etruscan times up to the nineteenth-century, like wooden models of objects made of cast iron produced in the foundries of Follonica. There are also an Etruscan furnace, the foundries, a round oven, the clock tower and other buildings related to the factory in addition to the great Palace of the Grand Duke.
Church of San Leopoldo
This church designed by Alessandro Manetti and built between 1836 and 1838 is the best representation of high specialization reached by the foundry of Follonica. It is the only example in Italy of a church pediment made by cast iron, a material that was also used in the furniture and in the decorations.
Castle of Valli
The castle is situated on the hills behind Follonica and we have tracks of it since 884. At that time it was the summer residence of the bishop of Lucca. In the end, after a few passages, it went to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Today, the ruins, some well-preserved buildings and part of the walls are visible from the majestic tower.
The Pievaccia is what remains of a large fortified medieval monastery on the top of the Poggio Chierico hill. Maybe the oldest sacred building built in this place might have been the parish church of Pastorale, which already existed in the eighth century.
Beaches in the surroundings
East: Cala del Barbiere (sand and rocks); Casetta Civinini (sand and pine trees); Cala Civette (sand and rocks); Cala Violina (sand and bush); Cala Martina (rock and bush); La Polveriera (sand and pine trees).
West: Lido (sand); Prato Ranieri (sand); Boschetto (sand and pine trees); Torre Mozza (sand and pine trees); Carbonifera (sand and pine trees).
Due to the presence of long beaches, clear water and pinewood, Follonica is perfect for sports such as sailing, scuba diving, walking, hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. In addition, there is a wide range of sporting facilities for tennis, skating, mini golf and soccer.
Among the many events that take place in Follonica, the Carnival established in 1949 is one of the most important. During the Carnival, there are allegorical floats made by residents of the six districts. In May, the Palio of Flags and Territory takes place, an event that follows the traditions that date to the period of the Grand Duchy. The last weekend in October sees Follonica staging one of the most important races of the Rally of Tuscany: the Trofeo Maremma.