The Municipality of San Giuliano Terme is an important health resort in the province of Pisa with a population of about 30000 inhabitants. It is near a vast natural reserve and it is rich in remarkable architectural monuments.
In effect, San Giuliano Terme is well-known not only for its sulphate-alkaline and curative waters but also for its Multimedia Museum and its wonderful 24000 hectares Regional Park. Moreover, St. Mark's Parishes in Rigoli and in Asciano, which are in the surroundings, can be admired .
San Giuliano's territory was the base of ancient settlements since the Neolithic, but the Etrurians were the first permanent settlers of this area. Besides discovering its hot springs, they transformed this place into an important marble extraction centre.
This civilization left its traces in places called "Castellieri", which are still visible on the mountains overlooking the town. The Romans continued the development of the thermal baths. Part of the aqueduct that they built to carry water from San Giuliano to Pisa is still preserved.
The information about the village faded in the chaotic period of the Barbarian invasions and appeared again in 1112, when the Countess Matilde financed the renovations of the baths.
It seems that the leader of mercenaries Castruccio Castracani fortified San Giuliano in the first decades of the XIV century. The tower that he supposedly ordered to be built was destroyed by Lucca in 1397 at the end of a century characterized by the fights between Lucca and Pisa for the control over Sangiuliano's territory.
After the Florentine town hall took it in 1406, the lands of the area underwent a period of decadence and stagnation, which lasted until XVI century.
Cosimo I de' Medici started great reclamations and reconstruction works in the spa once he came into power in Florence. Nevertheless, this was not followed by his successors. It was thanks to the Grand-ducal family dynasty of the Hapsburg-Lorraine that the Baths of San Giuliano (this was their name until 1935) reached their splendour, with the reconstruction of the whole thermal plant, the accomplishment of the reclamations and the acquisition of the communal autonomy, which was granted in 1776.
After the bloodshed of the Nazi-Fascist occupation in central Italy, the municipality of San Giuliano Terme entered the post-war period with a strong economic growth, which was also due to the development of handicraft and tourism. In particular, the latter was an effect of thousands of people rushing its springs to cure the wounds inflicted to their bodies and their spirit by the war just ended .
The Thermal Baths of San Giuliano Terme
The Thermal Baths of San Giuliano Terme rise along the slopes of the Pisano mount.
The actual thermal resort rose during the domination of the Dukes Pietro Leopoldo of Lorena and it was restored in the next centuries.
The thermal springs are rich of beneficial properties, thank to the presence of the magnesium and bicarbonate minerals in the water. The thermal springs supply to thermal baths: the Bagno di Levante (East Bath), whose spring has a 40,5 °C temperature, and the Bagno di Ponente (West Bath) that has a 38°C temperature.
At the entrance of the thermal resort is placed a plate on which is quoted the name of the scientist Giuseppe Orosi (1816-1875), who started in the XIX-th century the first studies about the properties of the water of the thermal springs in San Giuliano Terme.
The thermal resort are an ideal place where to have a relaxing holiday enjoying by the beauty and curative treatments carried out by the several specialist centres.
The territory of San Giuliano is enriched by the presence of numerous sacred buildings dating to the last period of the Roman Empire and to the Middle Ages, among which there is the Parish of St. Mark, dating to the VIII-IX century and standing out in Rigoli.
The rise of Christianity in the area of San Giuliano had to face the hostility of the Barbarian populations that had settled the area after the fall of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the dating of the Parish of St. Mark is particularly revealing.
In effect, Charlemagne's coronation took place in 800 A.D. and his conversion to Christianity allowed the Church to carry out its first construction works in the areas traditionally hostile to this faith.
The Parish of St. Mark is the only church in the area to have a three-nave plant, since the Romanesque stile, which developed after the year 1000, had not influenced it yet. Inside, a baptismal font it still preserved and it reminds the original function of the parish.
As a matter of fact, it was certainly one of the first baptismal churches of the Pisan archbishopric.
According to documents, the territories around it were under the direct control of the German emperors Henry IV and Otto III. Both them and the numerous popes that came one after the other at that time, reiterated the legitimacy of the parish's jurisdiction exercised by the Pisan Bishop.
St. Mark's Parish shortly preceded the fate of San Giuliano, when the Florentines, led by the Count Bertoldo Orsini, besieged it and took it.
Nevertheless, this episode did not tarnish its prestige at all. In fact, at the time of the power shift in the Pisan country, the parish of St. Mark, with its centuries-old activity, obtained the two most recent parishes of Fiettole and Vecchiano, for a total of sixteen parishes that were added to those directly administered by the parish of Rigoli.
The parish has come to our days with its characteristics almost unaltered. Inside, it is possible to admire the above-mentioned baptismal font decorated with bas-reliefs, a circular processional painting with a vine-branch carved on the border.
Above the altar of the Virgin Mary, a XV-century painting is set. This is a work by the painter Turino Vanni from Rigoli.