San Vincenzo along the Etruscan coast: the perfect weekend between sea and countryside

Do you remember Around Tuscany’s post about the Etruscan Coast and the places you shouldn’t miss? I wrote about Livorno and the Venetian neighbourhood, Castiglioncello and the red cliffs overlooking the sea, Bolgheri and the famous avenue of cypress trees and many other places that are worth a visit. But I skipped an area rich in wonderful places and activities to do, and the reason is because this place deserves a post by itself. I’m speaking about San Vincenzo and its surroundings, and I had the opportunity to visit it during the blog tour #sanvincenzo14.
San Vincenzo seen by the sea
San Vincenzo seen by the sea
San Vincenzo is a municipality in the province of Livorno that combines natural beauty and hospitality, sea and countryside, leisure and history. A holiday here is recommended all year round, because when it’s too cold for the sandy beaches, you have plenty of things to do. In this post, I’ll show you what you can do. A little bit of history before some tips about what to visit is necessary to understand the unique qualities of this place. Studies have found that San Vincenzo was inhabited since ancient times and the earliest traces of human presence date back to the Palaeolithic period, due to the position of the Colline Metallifere (ore-bearing hills) and the rivers Cecina and Cornia. The strategic location of the town did not go unnoticed by the Etruscans, who populated it intensely, both for its proximity to Populonia and the presence of minerals and large forests, so they developed intense mining activity here (extraction and fusion). Then it became a Roman settlement, and then there was Longobard and Pisan domination. Today, it is a modern, efficient town offering a wide variety of things to do and accommodation, as well as restaurants, sports facilities, a harbour and a lot of nature.
The Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro
The Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro
What to see in San Vincenzo and surroundings The Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro The Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro covers an area of 450 hectares with unique examples of the mining and metallurgical cycle, from the Etruscan era to the present days. The tour begins at the Museum of Archaeology and Minerals and then continues into the Miniera del Temperino, where an experienced guide accompanies visitors to discover the colours and charm of the underworld. Leaving the mine you arrive in the area of the Pozzo Earle with the Machinery and Mining Museum. From this area begins a visit to the Gallery Lanzi-Temperino aboard a train that goes over what was once the way of minerals. The beauty is yet to come: when you exit the tunnels on the train you begin to see the ruins of the Rocca San Silvestro, a medieval mining village of incredible beauty and from the top you can see the islands of the Tuscan archipelago.
The Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro
The Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro
Opening hours June and September: from Tuesday to Sunday mornings and afternoons. July and August: everyday (sometimes also at night). From October to May: Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons only and other days for groups and schools upon reservation only. December: closed from 8 to 26. For information: telephone +39 0565 226445. Baratti beach The modern Gulf of Baratti was originally one of the most important Etruscan ports along the coastline of this part of Tuscany. Here the colour of the sand is black and silver due to the high presence of remains of the ancient iron processing. The bay consists in a long sandy beach, just behind there’s a thick pine forest and on the left a little tourist harbour. Just crossing the street behind the beach of Baratti you can reach the Etruscan necropolis, which is part of the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia.
Baratti beach seen by the sea
Baratti beach seen by the sea
The Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia As well as the Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro, the Archaeological Museum of the Territory of Populonia belongs to the network of Val di Cornia and Populonia Parks and represents one of the main cultural centres of the area. It is a real open-air museum, a unique Etruscan settlement built directly on the sea, with its necropolises, its quarries and the ancient quarters for working with iron. A visit to the park includes educational panels that document Populonia’s history, the San Cerbone monumental necropolis and the Necropolis “delle Grotte” (4th century BC). The park includes also the Populonia acropolis and its temples, thermal baths and the medieval San Quirico monastery. The Necropolis of San Cerbone offers amazing examples of Etruscan funereal architecture and is the only Etruscan necropolis to be built on the seafront. You can walk for few minutes surrounded by burial mounds or, if you prefer walking a lot, you can reach Buca delle Fate, a nearby little bay.
The Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia
The Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia
Opening hours March – April – May – October: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm June – September: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 7pm July – August: everyday from 9.30am to 7.30pm with special evening opening times January, February, November, December: Saturday and Sunday and holidays from 10am to 4pm from Tuesday to Friday only group reservations. December: closed from 9 to 26 Special openings for Easter holidays. Website Read more here Populonia Populonia, also called Populonia Alta, is a charming, old town situated in a dominant position on one of the promontories that form the Gulf of Baratti. Populonia preserves the fortifications of the fifteenth century of the Lords of Piombino, the Appiani family, who constructed the walls in the first half of the fifteenth century to defend the city from pirates. Modern Populonia is located within a small portion of the walled acropolis of a large ancient city and the sea surrounds it and village has cobblestone streets, small shops and a private museum of Etruscan and Roman remains. It’s an Etruscan town and it was one of the most important centres for processing and trade of iron coming from the mines of Elba Island.
Populonia
Populonia
The Rimigliano Nature Reserve It is one of Tuscany's most beautiful parks with 120-hectare oasis of varied and protected environment: Mediterranean scrub oaks, juniper, myrtle and pine. The park can be visited on foot or bicycle through the many paths in the dense vegetation. There is also a rich local wild life: pheasants, hares, weasel and fox can be found here.
Rimigliano Nature Reserve
Rimigliano Nature Reserve
How to reach it By car: From Livorno, take direction south towards Grosseto on the road called SS2. Exit at San Vincenzo after 60 kilometres. By train+bus: get off at “San Vincenzo” station and take a bus to Piombino. The closest bus stop is on the main road called Principessa, but you need to know that there’s a 20-minute walk to the bay. There is also a rail station in Populonia and from here you can take a shuttle service. Distances: Livorno 60 km - Florence 130 km - Pisa 80 km - Siena 100 km - Arezzo 190 km Photo Credits: Serena Puosi