The Water Museum of Vivo d’Orcia was founded in the green heart of Mount Amiata and Valdorcia, a place dedicated to water recognized as a primary value for the community. The museum was strongly wanted by AdF in Vivo d’Orcia, in the municipality of Castiglione d’Orcia, where the Ermicciolo Spring originates, from which the Vivo Ridge winds. It is an integral part of a project where both the Municipal Administration and AdF joined forces in the realization of a work dedicated to research and the historical memory of what the spring reality of Vivo is, indeed.

The place has been obtained through the redevelopment of the former middle schools while the set-up follows an educational path made up of photos, projections, multimedia panels, exhibitions of artefacts and collections of material used in the maintenance of the Aqueduct. The aim is also to enhance the water district of Vivo which, in addition to being the main resource for the province of Siena, represents a great opportunity for sustainable tourism for the whole area.

The Water Museum with its approach, also made of hi-tech solutions, is a cultural and technological reference point to raise awareness on the subject of water, on its correct management and on good practices to protect it. A mix of history and innovation to tell the community the importance of a vital resource too often underestimated.

The museum layout

In the museum entrance hall there are descriptive panels relating to the fundamental elements of the museum conception and the context in which it is located. These include the objectives of the project, the locality of Vivo d’Orcia and its main monuments of interest, the Ermicciolo spring, the Vivo Ridge with the description of its history and technical characteristics, the company Acquedotto del Fiora SpA and the characters linked to the history of water of the Vivo Ridge area.

It is the place dedicated to viewing and listening to a documentary that tells the path and importance of the water resource in the context of Mount Amiata, with a particular close-up on the Vivo d’Orcia and the Ridge that takes its name. You can admire these extraordinary places from the sky, listen to the words of the technicians of the past and the current managers of the water infrastructure of the reference basin.

This space is intended to host digital devices and tools with which to interact to discover and deepen the past, the present and the future of these places and their protagonists, the infrastructures managed by AdF and deal with the challenges of environmental sustainability and energy transition.

This place is used by visitors to read and relax in a context where there are green spaces and places to sit and relax.

Ermicciolo Spring

The Ermicciolo Spring is located within the Ermicciolo Park in Vivo d’Orcia, and it is one of the most important springs of Mount Amiata. Once you reach the entrance of the structure, located on the ground floor of the square, you access a tunnel about 78 meters long and 9 meters wide.
The water gushes out from the rock, roaring with great energy. There are no barriers separating the visitor from this spectacle.

Already in the 12th century San Romualdo had chosen the area near the Ermicciolo Spring to found a Hermitage. He described this place as: “Wild and magnificent, a small height stretched at the border between the kingdom of beech and chestnut trees, a few meters flat near a winding, sudden strait, from which two large and overwhelming frosty pools of water gushed out with the roar of thunder“.

The Vivo Ridge, which supplies much of the province of Siena, is fed by the water that flows uncontaminated from the Ermicciolo Spring. In 1895 the Municipality of Siena designed the Acquedotto del Vivo to solve the serious problem of the lack of water that the city and the surrounding areas absolutely needed. Thanks to its exceptional flow rate of about 200 litres per second, the Ermicciolo Spring will prove to be the only one able to meet the growing demand for water resources. Even today, the Ermicciolo Spring and the Ridge, which winds from here, are of fundamental importance.

Vivo Ridge

Since the 12th century, the lack of natural water resources had prompted the Municipality of Siena to carry out major works to find sufficient water to meet the growing citizens’ needs. Due to the infiltration of sewage from cesspits, typhoid epidemics spread cyclically, causing death, especially in the neighbourhoods where the water supply was so insufficient that it could not be exploited for regular daily use. The Ermicciolo Spring on the northern side of Mount Amiata, about 1000 meters above sea level, was first indicated in 1890 as the only one capable of solving the problem of the city’s water supply. In 1908 the Municipality of Siena finally began the construction of the Vivo Ridge, thus allowing the population to finally have pure and abundant water in their houses.

Initially the difficulties were enormous, also due to the modest workers’ equipment, they used almost exclusively mallets and pickaxes to dig. With these few tools, 62 km of pipeline, watertight joints and bridges were built, inside which the Ridge ran with its high-pressure pipes.

On May 15, 1914, at the end of a path of over 60 km, the first water from the Ermicciolo spring flowing through the Ridge arrived in Siena in the Porta San Marco area.
Today, the water distribution network serving the Municipality of Siena and the vast neighbouring territories of the neighbouring municipalities is managed by AdF, and is powered by the Vivo Ridge and the Luco Spring.

These have made it possible to greatly increase the availability of water to meet the needs of the city and its territory, which once only used what, in common language, is now called the Vivo Water.

Vivo d’Orcia – Places of interest

Located in the municipality of Castiglione d’Orcia is the highest village in the entire Amiata area, at 930m above sea level. Close to Ermicciolo you can admire the spring of the Vivo stream, one of the main tributaries of the Orcia river that represents the fundamental water source for the aqueducts of Valdichiana and Siena. In the territory of Vivo d’Orcia there are some religious buildings dating back to the 11th century.

Memory of an ancient Camaldolese monastery, it is located in a more isolated position than the current town of Vivo d’Orcia, in the locality of Contea. Close to Contea, there is also the Romanesque church dedicated to San Marcello. Not far from the Hermitage, in the middle of the woods, there is the oratory of San Benedetto, called Ermicciolo.

Residence of the descendants of the noble Cervini family, whose first news dates back to the 13th century. The Palace dominates over the entire town and still amazes for its excellent state of conservation and its considerable size.

“Le Vie dell’Acqua” – Ermicciolo and Capovetra Ring

The Ermicciolo Spring is part of one of the itineraries proposed by AdF in its new project “Le Vie dell’Acqua” (Waterways) developed together with the Acea Group, which includes among its objectives to enhance and rediscover the natural springs of Mount Amiata, together with some historical structures managed directly by AdF, promote a sweet and sustainable tourism and bring together tradition and innovation.

The Ermicciolo and Capovetra Ring is a walk of about 10 km inside the Parco del Vivo. You can take the route starting from the village of Vivo d’Orcia or from the special parking area reachable along the road that leads to Seggiano, about one kilometre from the town. Along the way, you can come across the ruins of an old hydraulic sawmill and walk on the water channels of the “Gorina”: two historical and cultural elements intimately linked to the abundant presence of water.

The route is enriched by a fairy tale forest of chestnut trees, beech trees and some conifers and embellished by the waters that run to form, downstream of the ancient volcano, a suggestive waterfall that ends in the enchanted Scodellino Lake. What is interesting is a narrow path that leads from the church of San Benedetto to the Spring of Capovetra, located in the municipality of Seggiano. The paths that enter the suggestive beechwood, among the largest in Europe, allow you to discover different points of landscape interest. The arrival is at Capovetra Spring, next to the recently renovated refuge of the same name. On the way back, you can walk the entire cart track to reach the starting point directly and faster.