You surely heard about the beautiful Elba Island in the Tuscan Archipelago, but probably you do not know much about Piombino, the gateway to Elba. For this reason, we are going to tell you 7 Facts about Piombino on the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany. This is a town full of history and evocative landscapes. It is located on a promontory right opposite of the more famous destination of Elba, in the final stretch of the Etruscan Coast.
1 – An historical borgo: from the Etruscans to the Bonaparte’s
If you are passionate about history, there is a lot to learn about Piombino. The Etruscans lived here at the beginning of the 9th century BC Christ already, even before the Romans did. Evidence from this period can be found in town (see the next paragraph for information about the Archeological Museum in Piiombino). The town was also a possession of the Republic of Pisa (at the time of the socalled Repubbliche Marinare), that made it one of the most important cities along the Tyrrhenian coast. In 1594 it was declared a princedom under the protection of theAppiani family. Later on, at the beginning of the 19th century Elisa Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister, ruled the town. She used to live in the old Cittadella, in a beautiful palace designed by the famous artist Leonardo da Vinci, today seat of the Archeological Museum.
2 – The Archeological Museum of Baratti and Populonia is located in Piombino
In the above mentioned museum, you can find evidence about the Etruscans in the area. More specifically, you can find here over 2.000 finds dating back not only to the Etruscan but also to the prehistoric and Roman period. All finds come from the socalled Val di Cornia Park system (Parchi della Val di Cornia). Directly connected to this museum is the Museum of Polulonia and Baratti, belonging to Park system. Do not miss to learn more about Baratti and Populonia in our blog. Baratti is only 15 minutes by car from Piombino. To have a complete vision over this part of history in this area, we recommend you to visit both of them. The building hosting the museum today was also the residence of Elisa Bonaparte and its structure was designed by the incredible Leonardo, whose work played an important role in town.
3 – The historical centre of Piombino hides attractions by Leonardo da Vinci
The famous Italian artist projected not only Elisa’s residence, but also the defense walls surrounding the historical centre of Piombino. Besides some still visible sections of Leonardo’s walls, in town you find several monuments dating back from both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period. Among them the Torrione and the Rivellino. Torrione is the old town gate, dating back to the 13th century and representing the oldest attraction in Piombino . Rivellino is a big semicircular reinforcement adjacent to the gate. It was built in the 15th century to protect the city at the time of the Orsini family. In the old marina, the Fonti di Marina are worth a mention. This is where ships once went to be restocked. In the same area, you also find the Casa delle Bifore from the 14th century. Do not miss the Cittadella Chapel and the Curches of an’Antimo and of the Immacolata.
Last but not least for importance are the beatiful Castle from the 13th century and the added Fortress. The Fortress was added later in the mid-1500s by Cosimo de’ Medici. After 1861, when Italy was uunified and finally became one country, the whole complex became a prison. The structure we can see today is the result of an important restoration ending in 2001. It recovered the original 16th century building. Today this is the seat of the Museum of the Castle and Ceramics in Piombino.
4 – Piazza Bovio in Piombino is the largest Italian square by the sea
Among the 7 most important Facts about Piombino on the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany, we need to mention Piazza Bovio. This is the reason why Piombino is worth a visit. Piazza Bovio is a real symbol in town. This is not just a square, but also the largest Italian square by the sea. It is a real panoramic terrace and from there you can enjoy an incredible view over most of the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. Indeed, you can obviously see Elba (since it is the biggest of the islands and it is right in front of the promontory of Piombino) and in clear days you can even see Montecristo, Capraia, Giglio and Corsica. Read more about the Tuscan Archipelago in our blog.
On the right side, you have a view over the Falcone Promontory and on the opposite side of the square you can see the old harbour with a small marina that fishermen still use. In a corner of the square, you can see a romantic lighthouse.
5 – Explore the beautiful bays along the coast of Piombino
If you like nature and wild ways where to lie down and relax, you are in the perfect place. Along the coast you find several bays. A nice itinerary to follow is the one leading to the Punta Falcone Park. There you also find the city’s planetarium. From there, you can reach the Mediterranean scrub. For example, you can get to Salivoli and get an aperitivo facing the modern marina or stop by Calamoresca. Many are the bike and hiking paths available to reach other more hidden bays and beaches like Buca delle Fate, Spiaggia Lunga and Fosso alle Canne.
Close to Piombino are also some interesting naturalistic areas belonging to the Sterpaia Park (Parco Costiero della Sterpaia). There, you find intact beautiful beaches like Cala Perelli and Torre Mozza. In addition, they were awarded the Bandiera Blu designation for their clear waters. Along the coast, you can find many well-equipped areas for water sports, together with diving, sailing and wind-surf schools.
6 – Food and Wine Traditions in Piombino
Piombino belongs to the socalled Città del Vino. It is an association gathering several borgos in the Val di Cornia area. We are talking about a rich territory in the wine industry, reuniting many small wine-making properties offering typical products and local delicacies (like extra-virgin olive oil).
Being a coastal borgo, many are the local fish recipes. Among the typical dishes, you find boiled octopus, baccalà and potatoes, the caciucco (a kind of fish stew), stewed or stuffed mussels and cuttlefish. However, worth a taste are also local soups, wildboar dishes and also some vegetables like the violet artichokes from this area.
7 – The port of Piombino and the Gateway to Elba
Most of the visitors getting to Piombino actually find out about its beauty while on their way to the Elba island. In fact, you can reach Elba in about one hour from the port of Piombino. The Queen of the Tuscan Archipelago (being the biggest island of the Tuscan Archipelago) is only 10 km off the promontory of Piombino. There are several ferry boat companies offering daily connections from Piombino and Portoferraio, Porto Azzurro and Rio Marina. The two main ones are Toremar (www.toremar.it) and Moby Lines (www.mobylines.it).
The port of Piombino always played an important role for its large piers and industrial platforms. Even at Etruscan times, people considered it very strategical and took advantage of its position.
How many of our 7 Facts about Piombino on the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany did you already hear about?