Visit to the historical San Niccolò weir along the Arno River in Florence where a new hydroelectric plant is being installed.
Since the year 1200, the San Niccolò weir furnished water to the mills used for various manufacturing activities and, later, for water supply to the local population. In 1875, the structure of San Niccolò weir was reinforced and two stone tunnels crossing the Arno were constructed upstream of the weir. Inside one of them a large pipe for the new aqueduct was laid down. The second tunnel was intended to be used as a filtering tunnel for the water of the Arno. However, the tunnels were eventually used by residents as a means of crossing the river. Notably during the second world war, partisans were able to transfer food and munitions across the Arno River. In 1959, when the ‘Fabbrica dell’acqua’ was demolished, the tunnel was also abandoned. With no maintenance, the tunnel deteriorated rapidly and is now inundated. The current project aims to both restore the old weir and install a run-of-river hydroelectric plant.
The technical visit is hosted by the company Iniziative Bresciane S.p.A., a group active in the production of electricity from renewable sources, with a focus on identifying potentially interesting sites, designing, building and managing small and medium-sized hydroelectric plants, and the construction company PAC S.p.A. that is currently restoring 13 weirs and installing 12 hydroelectric plants along 55 km of the Arno River as part of a project financing promoted by the Tuscany Region.