logo Museo Galileo - Institute and Museum of the History of Science
  • "Madonnina" Ice House, Le Piastre, Pistoia.zoom in altra finestra
  • "Madonnina" Ice House, Le Piastre, Pistoia.zoom in altra finestra

Ecomuseo della Montagna Pistoiese - Comparto Produttivo del Ghiaccio della Madonnina [Pistoian Mountain Ecomuseum - "Madonnina" Ice Production Division]

Restored in 2001 by the Commune of Pistoia, the picturesque "Madonnina" Ice Production Complex is located in the vicinity of Le Piastre. A fascinating route through the woods leads visitors to observe the icehouses and the related hydraulic structures (small sluices, watergates and mill-races) that served to divert the waters of the Reno into lakes where, low temperatures permitting, natural ice formed by freezing. Still today, educational demonstrations of ice production are held in winter.

The "Madonnina" icehouse is the most important building of the complex. Used to preserve ice, it has a truncated cone structure with a base is masonry, rye thatched roof, and shingles. Built of local stone, it has an overall height of 15.60 metres and a volume of 760 cubic metres. The bottom formed by heaps of stone is equipped with a draining system. Three doors at different heights afforded access to the building, depending on the amount of ice it contained. Opposite the icehouse is the lake with input and output conduits for the waters of the Reno.

The production of ice and its subsequent extensive distribution were made possible by the construction of the Royal Road that connected Pistoia and Modena, laid on the Tuscan side in the second half of the 18th century by Leonardo Ximenes. This work indeed made it possible to considerably reduce the time needed to transport ice to Florence, Pistoia, Montecatini and the other localities where it was requested.


Texts by Graziano Magrini

English translation by Victor Beard

Last update 03/gen/2008