Rio nell'Elba is one of the oldest village settlements on Elba Island and it dates back to the Bronze Age. A highly characteristic town, oozing character and charm, Rio, as the locals call it, is perched on the top of a hill in the east of the island which has it's roots deep in the iron-mining traditions. A bit off the beaten tourist track, this village gives a real taste of what Elba is really about. These are just 5 reasons to check it out...
1. Atmosphere Arriving in the main piazza, you'll be transported back in time and you'll feel yourself immediately relaxed. Exploring the tiny side streets, beautifully decorated with pot plants and occasional breathtaking views through tiny alleys, you'll see the old folks gossiping in the sun, children running in the streets and the odd cat ambling idly along. You can taste the fresh spring water that flows in the various public fountains, taste something delicious in the small bakery or sit and have a coffee at the local bar and watch the locals go about their business.
2. The Public Wash House (I Lavatoi) "I lavatoi" is a charming spot located just below the village and is where the locals used to wash their clothes in fresh water from the Canali spring that flows into the building via bronze spouts dating back to the 16th century. More recently weddings have taken place here.
3. Art In the parish church of Saints Giacomo and Quirico in the main piazza, you can see a painting of the "Mystic Wedding of Catherine of Alexandria" by Giovanni di San Giovanni Valdarno (1592/1636). Around the corner, the "Passo della Pietà" is a recently restored series of passages and rooms built in stone that often house contemporary art exhibitions. A short drive in the direction of Nisporto will take you to the Hermitage of Saint Catherine where the small chapel and connecting buildings have been used as an artist retreat for many years and hundreds of avant-guard artists have been inspired by this magical place. Modern art installations can be seen on the grounds and in late summer concerts are organized here.
4. Gardens Also at the Saint Catherine Hermitage, you can also visit the Botanical Gardens "dei Semplici" where many endemic species of medicinal and culinary plants are preserved and cultivated in an important project to bring them back into common use. Back in the village itself, below the main piazza, there is a delightful public garden which is very peaceful and cool in summer.
5. Castles Fairytale castles are not lacking in this territory. Monte Giove, on the road towards Cavo is a easily reached on foot and even small children can enjoy it. Climbing up to the castle of Volterraio on the other hand, requires a good pair of boots and an adventurous spirit, but the views are worth it. The two castles were able to communicate with each other and scan the coasts for pirate ships.
Post provided by Francesca Campagna - Social Media Team Elba