Lajatico in the province of Pisa
Lajatico is a small town in the province of Pisa which is located a few kilometers from Volterra. We are in Valdera, in the heart of Tuscany, a land made of gentle and green hills dotted here and there by villages, country churches and castles. To these historical places is added the famous Teatro del Silenzio (Theater of Silence) built by Andrea Bocelli, the most illustrious of Lajatico’s sons. It is thanks to the great tenor that Lajatico has acquired an international reputation thus becoming one of the main tourist destinations in the area. Bocelli must also be credited with making Lajatico the municipality with the highest average income in all of Italy.
The first to occupy the area were the Etruscans and after them the Romans. The name “Lajatico” instead is of Latin-Lombard derivation since it takes from the Latin name larius and the Lombard suffix -aticus.
The center developed mainly from the 12th century around the castle of the Pannocchieschi family. The Bishop of Volterra followed for a certain period, then the Pisans and finally the Florentines arrived. In fact, in the seventeenth century, Lajatico, together with Orciatico, became a marquisate that was granted to the Corsini family of Florence.
- What to see in Lajatico
- Things to do and what see in the surroundings
- How to get to Lajatico
- Where to sleep
What to see in Lajatico
Lajatico is a small town that is definitely worth a visit. If you are already in the area to visit Volterra, take a detour to Lajatico because you will not regret it. The most famous monument to visit is the Teatro del Silenzio, but it is certainly not the only point of interest in the area. In the village there are some beautiful buildings and the church of San Leonardo. One of the symbols of Lajatico is the Rocca di Pietracassia while in Spedaletto there is a Medici villa, the Villa di Spedaletto. Famous for its chestnuts, Orciatico is also worthy of attention. Here we find the remains of the fortress, two seventeenth-century mills and also an astronomical observatory.
Teatro del Silenzio
Built in 2006 by the will of Andrea Bocelli, the Teatro del Silenzio stands on a hill near Lajatico. It is an amphitheater that takes advantage of the natural conformation of the land. The theater owes its name to the fact that for 364 days out of 365 it remains silent, since it is intended to host only one event per year. However, only one event of the highest level given that in addition to Bocelli, numerous international artists participate every year who give life to a truly special show.
The theater has a large circular stage in the center of which new works of art are installed every year, such as the great human face created by Igor Mitoraj which has become a true symbol of the Theater of Silence. Behind the stage there are some majestic slabs of Tuscan travertine. During the year, when the theater is not active, the stalls become an artificial lake. The area dedicated to shows is very large, about 5000 square meters, and the theater can accommodate up to 8000 people.
Rocca di Pietracassia
Built with the aim of guarding the trade route that reached Montecatini Val di Cecina, the Rocca di Pietracassia owes its name to the presence of a large limestone rock that has a characteristic cleft: “pietra cassa” in fact means split stone.
The fortress is located on a hill over 500 meters high, a position that allowed it to dominate the entire Valdera and a large part of the Val di Cecina, thus managing to perform its defensive tasks in the best possible way. There is no certain information on the origin of this castle but some scholars believe that a foundation in the Lombard period is likely. Over the centuries the fortress has changed hands several times, finding itself among the possessions first of the Cadolingi counts of Fucecchio then of the bishops of Volterra, of Pisa and finally of the Florentines.
A wonderful example of early medieval military architecture, the Rocca di Pietracassia is made up of two distinct structures: the fortress and the actual castle. The fortress can be visited however to reach it you have to face a rather demanding trekking route. Reached the top there are the remains of some structures and the walls; the view is very beautiful.
Villa di Spedaletto
The Villa di Spedaletto is located in the locality of the same name a few kilometers away from Lajatico. Once the property of Lorenzo de’ Medici, the villa owes its name to the fact that here there was a “spedale” (a hospital) that was used to welcome pilgrims.
Due to the nearby alum quarries, this area was quite important for the Medici so the villa was also used as a control center for the surrounding area. In 1494 the villa and its estate were sold to Franceschetto Cybo and until 1606 it remained the property of the Cybo-Malaspina family. On that date it was sold to the Corsini family who are still its owners.
The design of the villa is attributed to Simone del Pollaiolo; to decorate its interiors many artists of the highest level were called such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi, Pietro Perugino and Sandro Botticelli.
Astronomical Centre Lajatico
At the Lajatico there is also something for lovers of science and in particular of astronomy. In fact, near Orciatico there is the Astronomical Centre Lajatico, an astronomical observatory equipped with six telescopes that is managed by universities and associations of amateur astronomers. The main telescopes are used by universities while other smaller ones are available to all.
What see in the surroundings of Lajatico
The Valdera is an area full of villages and monuments to visit. Among the most important centers are Pontedera, Palaia, Lari and Peccioli. Also nearby are Montecatini Val di Cecina, Pomarance and the magnificent Volterra.
During the year there are some events that contribute to enrich the already rather varied offer of Lajatico. In addition to the show held at the Teatro del Silenzio (usually in July), the Festa sull’Aia organized in June in the locality of La Sterza which is dedicated to rural life and the Sagra delle Castagne (Chestnut Festival) of Orciatico which takes place in October.
How to get to Lajatico
Lajatico is located about 50 kilometers from Pisa, 60 from Livorno and 75 from Florence. It does not have a train station and if you travel by public transport it is probably better to arrive by train to Pontedera and then take one of the suburban buses that make the Pontedera-Volterra route. The bus journey from Pontedera to Lajatico takes about 45 minutes.
By car from both Florence, Pisa and Livorno, the fastest route is the one that includes a stretch of the FI-Pi-LI highway to the Pontedera exit and then continue on SP 11 towards Peccioli and SR439 towards Lajatico.
Where to sleep in Lajatico
In Lajatico and its surroundings there are many farmhouses, hotels and holiday homes where you can sleep.