MOUNT AMIATAMount Amiata and its surroundings are a vast environmental park wherenature, art and culture happily combine. The vegetation is varied. You canfind vineyards, olive groves, chestnut trees, beech and fir.Thanks to the favourable soil and climate, the excellent Montecucco wine(also recognized D.O.C.) is produced in this area. The famous Seggianeseolives give a top quality olive oil recognized D.O.P. Our wine and oilaccompany most of our typical dishes, among which recipes with localmushrooms. The mushrooms of Mount Amiata are a natural product ofthe woods and mushroom picking is an ancient activity of the inhabitantsof the Amiata villages.The Amiata donkeys were used in the past to carry mushrooms from thewoods to the towns and to help farmers with their work. You can seethese donkeys in our “Wildlife Park”, together with deers, roe deers,mouflons, chamois and wolves, the biggest attraction of the park.
The Park is a natural reserve and all the animals live in the wild, but theterritory where the wolves live is fenced.Wild boars, badgers, foxes and hedgehogs also live in the local woods.Going back to the local products, we cant forget “ricotta” and“ravaggiolo”, two types of cheese that are processed in this area.Bee farming is important too, and our local honey is famous.But the most important product of Mount Amiata is the chestnut. Manylocal recipes have chestnuts as a fundamental ingredient; we also have aspecial chestnut beer. There are various types of chestnut trees and the“Marroni” are the best.
As a tribute to this important fruit the Corsini factory created a specialcake called “polendina”.The Corsinis story began in 1921 in Castel del Piano, in the old familybakery of Corrado and Solidea Corsini. Since then the bakery and thenthe factory has been handed down from father to son, and through theyears the dimensions and the importance of the factory have grown. Nowtheir panettone, panforte, cakes and biscuits are famous and exported inmany countries.Climbing up the mountain top, we find beech and then fir trees.The beechwood of Mount Amiata is the biggest in Europe, but now sometrees are diseased and they will be cut down.In winter the atmosphere is spectacular because the beech and fir treesare covered with snow and they seem made of ice!!
In winter there are more visitors to our mountain thanks to the snow anda small ski area on the mountain top. There are 12 ski slopes in total,some are for beginners and some are for expert skiers. Most of theslopes are quite narrow, because they are surrounded by the trees, andthats make them more difficult than they seem! The summit is 1738 mt.and from there you can get a great view over Tuscany. On the very topyou can also see a monumental iron cross built in 1910.Apart from skiing, you can also enjoy trekking in the woods or try theAmiata Balance, a challenging course on ropes to test your balance andendurance.
CASTEL DEL PIANOIn our town there are a lot of attractions, for example “Piazzone” (bigsquare”) where many people of every age meet and talk or readsomething, and children can do sport. Now it is more beautiful thanbefore. In fact one year ago the town council decided to restructure it.Another important square is Garibaldi Square. In the middle of this newsquare there is an obelisk in memory of Garibaldi. All the teenagers meethere before going to the cinema (called “Roma cinema”) or to thetheatre. In Madonna square there are the most important churches ofthe town: Chiesa dellOpera and Madonna della Grazie. In the old town,the oldest and most beautiful part of Castel del Piano, there are twoother churches, one called the small church and the other one called thebig church.Here there is a square from where you can see all the towns aroundCastel del Piano, for example Seggiano, Montenero, Montegiovi and SantaFiora. This place is called Bella Vista. Monumento is another square, but itisnt a real square, it is a crossroads on the way to Arcidosso.In Castel del Piano you can play a lot of sport, for example football.There are some football teams such as “Giovanissimi”, “Esordienti” andothers. In Castel del Piano there are two football pitches; in one you canplay 5-a-side football, and the other one is a real football pitch. Otherpopular sports here are tennis and basketball. There are two tenniscourts and a sports hall. There is also a new gym next to one of thetennis courts and the small football pitch. In this gym you can play othersports, for example volleyball and handball.
THE “PALIO”The biggest and most exciting event in Castel del Piano is the Palio.The palio is a horse race with four horses representing the four parts ofthe town.The four districts, called “contrade” are Monumento, Poggio, Storte andBorgo.The Palio takes places on St. Patrons day (8th September) and at the endof the race the winning contrada goes to Madonna delle Grazie church tosay thank you.The symbols of the four contrade are: a fountain for Storte and Borgo, acastle for Poggio and an eagle for Monumento. The colours are: red andblue for Monumento, white, black and sky blue for Storte, red and greenfor Poggio, pink and violet for Borgo.The celebrations last 3 days: 6th, 7th and of course 8th September, themost important day because it is when the Palio takes place.The 6th and the 7th there are heats for the horses and then the leadersof the contrade check the horses which will run the Palio.The days before the 8th each contrada has a special dinner with thesupporters and they sing, they have fun and they have a rather gooddinner.Each contrada is busy also in the morning and in the afternoon. There aresome games and you can also cook the dinner.
The 7th afternoon and the 8th morning the contrade do a test for the realrace; they can try the course and the start.On 8th morning there is a historical parade with some representativemembers of the contrade who walk around the square .The four contrade wave their flags for 10-20 minutes (first the contradawhich won the latest palio) and a lot of people come to watch the flagwavers. Then in the afternoon there is another parade.After that the contrade go to Garibaldi Square and all the people gatherhere to see the race. The square is full of excitement!The race should start at 6 oclock but generally it doesnt start until 7.At night there is a bingo and finally fireworks that last about 40 minutes.The next weeks the winning contrada has a street parade to celebrate itsvictory and to remind its “enemies” who the best is, at least for theyear....
OUR SCHOOL DAYOur school is a “Scuola Media” (Middle School) for students aged 11 to14. In our school we have 36 lessons a week, from Monday to Saturdaybut one of the second classes has chosen to do only 30 lessons.We start at 8 oclock and finish at 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Fridayand Saturday, but on Tuesday and Thursday we finish at 4 pm .We have5 periods on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and on Tuesdayand Thursday we have 7 periods.We have a ten-minute break in the morning and one-hour break at lunch-time. On Tuesday and Thursday we have lunch at school but somestudents eat at home.We study History, English, Maths, Science, Art, Music, P.E., Italian,Geography, I.C.T., Technology, French and R.E. There are 6 classes; 2first classes, 2 second classes and 2 third classes for a total number ofabout 130 students.In our school every Tuesday and Thursday we have 2 afternoon lessons.On Tuesday afternoon we have easy lessons like reading (if we doItalian), or experiments (if we do Science) or P. E.On Thursday we can choose what to do. Our teachers give us a piece ofpaper with different subjects that we can choose (we call them “labs”).Our choices can change every term. We have lots of activities and someare very nice. For example we can do basketball, football, tennis,
athletics, English for Trinity exams, I.C.T for E.C.D.L, Science club, eco-lab, kitchen garden, Art, cineforum, etc. Some teachers also do extralessons of Maths, Italian and English for children who need to revise orcatch up with the class. Some of them need extra Italian lessons becausethey are foreigners. In fact we have a lot of immigrants here.The students of the third classes can also choose to do an extra lessonfrom 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays to attend the course to get themotorcycle licence.We like these activities a lot because we can stay with all the studentsof our school, not only our classmates, and because they are fun. What doyou think of our activities? Do you like them?Every year we can also have special projects, like for example lessonswith a psychologist, or theatre, etc....In our school R.E. is optional. Students who dont do R.E. study othersubjects with one of their teachers. They usually do Maths, Italianhomework or revise for a test.In our school there are also three children with special needs who havesupporting teachers only for them. These teachers help them with theirspecial curriculum and also plan activities to help them socialize with theother guys.At the end of the third year we have exams...four written exams (Italian,Maths, English and French) and an oral exam on all the subjects! SPORT COMPETITIONSIn our school we do a lot of sport competitions. There is a volleyballtournament with other schools and our P. E. teacher trains us to become“number 1”.Another sport competition is in May: that’s the “Giochi della dellaGioventù”. On this day there are a lot of competitors from many schools.We do many sports (volleyball, basketball, football, etc.) and finally wesee which school has the best results in all the games.The most important local sport competition is “Trofeo Amiata”. The bestboys and girls of our school do long jump, high jump, 1000 metres, 60metres, 100 metres and shot put.It is fun and if you win you get a medal.
There is also a skiing competition in winter, but just a few students do it. CONTESTSIn our school we also do contests; some of them are local, some othersregional, national or international. For example our school took part in theEuropean Robo-cup competition. It came first in Austria three years agoin the “Rescue category”. These students built a robot that could enter abuilding, locate the “victims” and separate them from various types ofdebris and rescue them.We also won a regional contest in English. These students drew and wrotea comic about the mystery of Stonehenge.We also take part in literary contests, the Maths Olympics and localcontests with works and ornaments that we make with our Art teacher.Some of our works are sold at the Christmas market to raise money forcharity. SPECIAL DAYS IN OUR SCHOOLIn January we have a ski holiday because we are a mountain school andskiing is part of our curriculum. All the classes can take part, providedthere is the required number of students.Then the last day of Carnival our sport teacher organizes some games forall the students who are first divided into teams.In the second term we go on school trips, usually one or two. They can beone-day trips or three-day trips.The last week of school the classes which dont have exams don’t alwayshave regular lessons. In fact they often go out or play board games. Ifthey go out, they play volleyball or football and chat with friends andteachers. On the last day we all go to Garibaldi Square to eat an ice-cream and then we come back to school...and when we the bell rings weshout and play with water and get wet!!