The Ancient Ironworks Ferriera Papini in Maresca. Iron industry in the time of the Grand Duke

Via Molin Vecchio, 51028 Case Bizzarri, Toscana Italia | (Allarga la mappa)

It was in 1388, when Mr. Bartolo di Giovanni purchased a water factory on the Maresca stream for the amount of 100 gold florins. Thus began the history of the oldest ironworks in Tuscany still existing.

Already functioning in the 14th century, the Maresca Ironworks appears in a letter from Cosimo I de ‘Medici from 1542, as an important iron-working factory on the Pistoia Apennines.

Thanks to the presence of woods, to be transformed into charcoal, and to the abundance of water, to be used as a driving force, the Pistoia Mountains were chosen by the Medici, lords of Florence, to become the first and most important iron and steel pole of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In March 1543 the contract, stipulated between Cosimo I and the lord of Piombino Jacopo V Appiano, ensured the  Medici of the iron monopoly, exercised through the Magona, the florentine office that controlled its distribution in the Medici state.

During the Medici’s and also during Lepoldo d’Asburgo Lorena: Pistoia Mountain was the last step of the long “Iron road”:  the raw ore, coming from the Elba Island, arrived, after a long journey by sea, river and finally on the back of a mule, to the ironworks on the mountain for the transformation. Once worked, it was used to make agricultural tools, weapons and other everyday objects.

A precious industrial archeological  find,  it constitutes a remarkable testimony of the history of this activity; so important that in 1995 the Superintendency for Monuments of Florence, Pistoia and Prato declared the building with its machinery, well of significant cultural interest.

The building is now included in the Iron Itinerary of the Pistoian Mountain Ecomuseum, which oversaw its restoration and reopened it to the public in 2016. The Papini Ironworks preserves 700 years of history, bringing back to life an important part of the historical memory of the Mountain.

The structure, owned by the Papini family, worked continuously until the end of the eighties of the last century, using traditional systems for production. Now it allows you to admire, almost intact, original hydraulic tools and machinery.

Visiting the “Ferriera” (Ironworks) you can see the machinery, the large wooden mallets and the hydro-wind trumpets  (mechanisms for the production of compressed air), which for their genius could be attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  Come and visit us, to  live the art of iron beating and personally try forging techniques!

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