Colle di Val d'Elsa
- Colle di Val d'Elsa
Colle di Val d'Elsa calls itself the "City of Crystal"
Colle di Val d'Elsa stands in the heart of Tuscany, among the towns of Siena, Florence and Volterra, on the Via Francigena, the medieval road travelled by pilgrims on their way to Rome.
A centre of art and culture throughout the XX century, today Colle di Val d'Elsa is a lively town with more than 20.000 inhabitants. Its old and modern architecture is immersed in the green of the hills of the Elsa river valley. The town has a medieval part on the hill, called "Borgo", and a newer one in the valley, called "Piano", which rises along the old mill-races and has always been the site of the town's productive activities. The mill-races are part of the artificial canalisation of the Elsa river. They were built over the centuries, starting from the early 1200's, and numerous mills, fulling-mills, paper-mills and other water-driven factories developed along them. The "gore" (mill-races) have played a leading role in the town's economy and the industrial development.
At present, the industrial activities revolve mainly around the manufacture of crystal. Colle di Val d'Elsa calls itself the "City of Crystal" and produces 15% of the worldwide crystal output. Among the internationally renown natives of the city, the most illustrious one is Arnolfo di Cambio, sculptor and architect of the Cathedral of Florence.