Sticking out into the sea atop an evocative promontory, facing the Tuscan Archipelago and rich in history and protected nature, Piombino is one of the main destinations along the Etruscan Coast. With ancient foundations – the first settlement dates as far back as the Stone Age – Piombino conserves important archeological remains, just like the stretch of coast along which the city’s territory lays. Historically known first as the port of Falesia, Piombino later became its own principality governed initially by the Appiani and later, at the beginning of the 1800s, by Elisa Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister.
The historic center, protected in part by a beautiful defensive wall, contains numerous medieval and Renaissance elements. Among the most important monuments, visitors will surely be wowed by the Torrione, the Rivellio, the Fonti di Marina, where ships would stock up, and the beautiful 14th-century Casa delle Bifore. There are also churches to be seen, including the Co-cathedral di Sant’Antimo, the Citadel Chapel and the Church of the Immacolata. Palazzo Nuovo dates to the 1800s and is found inside the fortified Citadel, designed with a contribution by Leonardo da Vinci. It is today the home of the Archaeological Museum of Populonia, the main exhibition site in the Parks of the Val di Cornia, which boasts over 2,000 ancient Etruscan and Roman artefacts. The paved alleys lead to the majestic Castle, where the Museum of the Castle and Medieval Ceramics is located, a splendid building whose oldest part dates to the 1200s. From Piazza Bovio, where Palazzo Appiani is situated, your gaze will travel along the coast and the Archipelago’s islands.
Piombino is the ideal starting point for discovering the Etruscan Coast, as the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia sits just a short distance away, as do the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Baratti, Buca delle Fate, Spiaggia Lunga and those in the Bays of Moresca, Perelli and Torre Mozza, coastal stretches famous for their unspoiled beauty. Around Piombino, sandy beaches and rocky coves claim the land for over 30 kilometres, surrounded by pine groves and a thick Mediterranean scrub. The varied sea bottoms are so interesting that they’ve become a destination point for diving enthusiasts from all across Italy. This stretch of coast is perfect for all types of water sports, and schools for sailing and surfing as well as diving centers for experts and amateurs are abundant.
Piombino is also an important port of call for yachts and for those heading to the islands. On the eastern coast, you’ll find various internal river docks. The Gulf of Salivoli has a new tourist port, the ideal haven for all types of boats. The Marine Biology Center is home to a Mediterranean Aquarium. Riotorto and Vignale are two small villages in an enchanting position between the hills and the sea, with endless beaches of clear, fine sand and transparent waters. This stretch of coast also has important nature centers, including the Punta Falcone Park, the Sterpaia Coastal Park, the Montioni Nature Park and the Orti Bottagone WWF Nature Reserve, an evocative wet zone that extends for around 100 hectares, with two swamps: Bottagone, with fresh water, home to water lilies, reeds and marsh orchids; and Orti, containing salt water and home to many bird species, including the marsh harrier, black-winged stilt, purple heron, great egret, flamingo and osprey.
Cover image credit: raffaele sergi