The medicean pipes


The water, the Medicean pipes and the Communities of the territory

Ever since the beginning of the Modern age, the presence of the great Villa in Poggio a Caiano, and of its annexes such as the Estate and the Cascine, the Stables, the farmsteads, the Barco has deeply influenced the communities settled in the surroundings, not only concerning the economic and social aspects but also the cultural and anthropological ones. Recent studies have demonstrated how, at the end of the XVIII century, the Villa, property of the Lorraine at that time, symbol and presence of royalty, influenced the development of the build-up area of Poggio a Caiano. In addition, the community of Carmignano itself, ancient medieval Municipality, was influenced by this strong presence which made its voice heard not only in the development of professions and crafts, in the political relationships between local and central powers, but also in the structuring of the immaterial power, in the fashioning of that class of influent characters mediating between local authorities and those of Florence.

The pipes, bringing water to the Villa, and later to the settlement at its feet, originate from the oriental crest of the hill where Carmignano is, in the surroundings of the Church of St. Michael.
Nowadays, there are two collection systems in a little building on the side of the hill with the spring inside. From the collection systems, two branches originate to rejoin  and to proceed on surface in a unique walled pipe, following the Elzana river, tributary of the Ombrone. From here, it detaches with a new path to enter the narrow valley of the Montiloni, the other tributary of the Ombrone.
Once again on surface, the pipe arrives in the underlying alluvial plain, to touch the hill of Castellaccio, up to the basis of the hill, on top of which we find the Villa Medicea. The pressure accumulated in the trait between the springs and the plain, allowed water to reach the Villa with a certain pressure, sufficient to go up to the first floor. The path, from the springs of Carmignano to the Villa, was about 3,4 km long.

The date of the realisation of the pipes is still uncertain but their history starts with the story of the Villa and therefore around the XV century but it is also related to the restoration made by Cosimo I one century later. The maintenance the pipes were subject to through centuries is documented, and for this reason, a unique dating is extremely difficult.