The Tower

The 28 metre tall tower, is divided into five floors. It’s a construction with a quadrangular escarpment base and it is made out of selagite; the lower part is duotone obtained from using alternate rows of light and dark coloured stones.The walls have various depths which may vary; from more than three metres at the base to more than two metres up top. Between the arc-shaped openings located on the sides of the tower, there are two ocular cutaways strategically placed in the direction of the Volterra Fortress and the Sillana Rocca, another antique fortress.

The history

The Montecatini Tower was a construction strongly desired by the Belforti family of Volterra.

It was built in the first half of the 14th century by the master stones man Ghetto from Buriano.

Evidence demonstrates that already in the 11th century, a pre-existing, smaller tower could be found.

It was part of a greater fortification work which comprised a surrounding wall as well as some other minor towers. (castle image)

The Belforti family’s work at Montecatini is important as being inscribed as their rise to power.

A family which had long and controversial disputes with the Allegretti’s ; a family which in 1340 had conquered the dominion of Volterra.(inscription Belforti)

The parable of this dynasty soon came to an end; in 1361 Bocchino Belforti lost all the political backing from the town of Florence and was hanged by the people of Volterra, who accused him of having betrayed the city by selling it to the people of Pisa for 32.000 florins.

The Belforti family was then chased out of Volterra, and after various other events, the town fell under the control of Florence, and so did the Montecatini Tower.

In the centuries that followed, the Tower had also been the headquarters of various Commanders which were sent there by the municipalities of both Volterra and Florence; it had belonged to the Pannocchieschi family, the Inghiramis’ and the Rocheforts’.

In the 700’s this Tower had been described as being heavily damaged by lightning and by wear and tear.

During the Second World War, the Montecatini people used the Tower as an air raid shelter and as a result the structure received ulterior damage.

Though its frame remained solid and the old people of the village tell us that until its renovation took place, it had always been possible, even if maybe a little risky, to walk up to the top.


The restauration

At the end of the 60’s, the Tower was purchased by Emilio Jesi, a coffee merchant (Jesi coffee), a contemporary art collector (his collection is in the Brera Museum in Milan) and the uncle of the Tower’s present owner, the painter and poet, Daniele Bollea.

Jesi was fascinated by the idea of renovating such an antique asset, while knowing that the Italian government would certainly not be able to carry out the works.

An admirer of the rationalist architect and designer Franco Albini, Jesi engaged him as the official renovator.

To begin with, it was necessary to open up a quarry and to hire various stone cutters to work on the stones.

The overall renovation did not involve too many external and internal modifications.

Albini’s touch is clearly recognizable by the use of the furnishings and of the décor: a sober and solemn style, a mix of simple elements typical of the industrial architecture, mixed with some of the best Italian design pieces.

You can find the Margherita arm chair, made by Albini, which is also exposed in the major international museums of design; the radar-table made out of bulrush; you can find the big and the small Gatto lamps made by Castiglioni and the Phantom by Tobias Scarpa; two bar stools designed by Albini exclusively for the tower, so as to be able to observe the view.

The Tower was conceived as a temple of beauty and has been preserved according to this spirit ever since.

In the summer of 2012 the bathrooms were renovated: the architect Spartaco Paris, professor of Technology and Architecture at the University of Bari, created the project following very closely the original architectural lines which Albini had designed, but updating its structure with the modern requirements of comfort: The shower structures have been improved and added space has been obtained.

The second most important intervention was on the electrical system as well as a noteworthy boost to the security system; the internet network have been perfectioned, which now allows a Wi-Fi system in every room as well as the satellite connection.