Feature: The Colline Metallifere

Massa Marittima's handsome buildings and artistic treasures are the legacy of the town's location in the centre of Tuscany's Colline Metallifere (metal-producing hills). Mining occurred here for three millennia, and has shaped the region's physical and cultural landscapes – something acknowledged by the addition of the Parco delle Colline Metallifere (www.parks.it/parco.colline.metallifere) to Unesco's European Geopark Network.

The national park incorporates many sites, including Parco Naturalistico Geotermico delle Biancane in Monterotondo Marittimo, a geothermal park 21km north of Massa Marittima where steam has been transformed into power by vapour turbines since 1916, supplying electricity to one million Tuscan households (meeting 25% of Tuscany's energy needs). Visitors can take a two-hour walk through wooded terrain, where steam belches from the earth's crust and clumps of sulphur crystals form.