Montecatini Alto is the hilltop town next to Montecatini Terme. The hilltop town was the original settlement – later it spread down into the valley. We could see this lovely little town from our hotel, sparkling on the hilltop.
In 1898, a funicular (cable car) was built to connect the towns, and it’s still in use today using the original cars – though today it’s operated by electricity instead of steam. There are two cars, which are connected by the cable. As one comes up, the other comes down. In the center, the track splits, and the two cars pass each other. The ride is very steep – over 30 degrees in some places. The car is angled and “stair-stepped”, so that the seats are level. You can see a side-view of the car in the link above.
|Entrance to the Funicular station||View of the Funicular coming down, with a view of Montecatini Alto atop the hill.|
We spent a lazy, drizzly afternoon taking the funicular to the top and wandering around the town for about an hour. (Even at a very slow pace, that gave us plenty of time to see the church, the tower, and pretty much every street in town – it’s quite small.) Then we stopped at a sidewalk cafe for espresso and cappuccino, before returning back to our hotel. It was a very delightful way to spend a couple of hours – the town was so peaceful and it was wonderful just to wander the beautiful streets, and enjoy the beautiful views from atop the hill. It was too misty for good photos, but I could have sat there for hours admiring the view.
Riding up the funicular was a real treat – we stood on the front deck on the way up, which gave us a real treat, especially when going through what appeared to be a tunnel to a secret garden:
And you get a real surprise when you see the other car heading towards you, until at the last minute, each car swings to the side and they pass each other safely.
On a day with better weather, and a bit more time, we’d have loved to take the ride up, and walk back to town along the winding road. But even just wandering the streets of the town was lovely.
|The charming little main square||One of the lovely colorful streets||An interesting cross attached to a house along the street. I wonder what the story is behind it.|
This was a special treat – as we walked along a street with a wall that dropped way down below us, I peeked over and spied this: