The importance of Mount Amiata for the territory of southern Tuscany is already self-evident from its extraordinary geography of isolated mountain as well as from its geological origin: an inactive volcano.
Its slopes have been inhabited since prehistoric times. The Etruscans considered it sacred land, the Romans created thermal sites on it ("Bagni di San Filippo" and Saturnia's thermal baths).
In the Middle Ages monks used the mountain as a place of worship and reflection, building there abbeys and monasteries (among those the Abbey of Abbadia San Salvatore on the south side of the mountain).
Around the year 1000 AD, the powerful Aldobrandeschi family made Mount Amiata their stronghold, choosing the town of Santa Fiora as their headquarters from which to control the northern part of the Maremma territory.
In this period countless castles and fortresses were built on the mountain: the Aldobrandesque fortresses of Arcidosso, Piancastagnaio and Santa Fiora, the Triana castle in Roccalbegna, the keep of Montelaterone and Rocca Silvana in Castell'Azzara.
The centuries under the Republic of Siena first and then under the Grand Duchy of Tuscany saw a slow decline in the status of Mount Amiata, as well as that of the entire Maremma.
Between 1800 and 1900, however, the mountain experienced a strong revival, establishing itself as a mining centre for the extraction of cinnabar, the material from which mercury is made.
This economic boost unfortunately came to an end in today's global era. Because of the area's economic backwardness, since the 1970s the mountain has experienced a sharp demographic drop and an ageing population.
Today Mount Amiata remains the guardian of an extraordinary landscape and of the history of times gone by. A magical place, wild and welcoming at the same time.
The villages on Mount Amiata are all worth a visit.
On the WEST side: Arcidosso, Castel del Piano and Seggiano.
The western side is the most easily accessible from the Villa Il Passo degli Ulivi, as well as the most active and densely populated part of the mountain.
On the SOUTH side: Santa Fiora and its "Peschiera", Roccalbegna with its fortress and the river that cuts the village in two halves.
On the EAST side: Abbadia San Salvatore and Piancastagnaio.
Finally, on the NORTH side is the fascinating Orcia Valley, with its splendid landscapes, both barren and harmonious. These magical places must be visited and enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.