Populonia is a beautiful, absolutely tiny and ancient town, perched high up on the Piombino peninsula with stunning views of the sea and the bay of Baratti below. It is home to a large archaeological park covering about 80 hectares, which contains some of the most important remains of the Etruscan settlement of this town, including the biggest necropolis in Italy of this mysterious native culture. Wealthy Etruscans had their tombs constructed much like the homes they lived in, complete with stoves, vases, cups, precious jewellery and regular objects they used during their lifetimes. The town’s small museum dedicated to the Etruscan history of the area holds the items found inside the tombs and brought up from the seabed below, describing in more detail this ancient, lively, wine-loving culture. It’s rustic and basic but fascinating.
Populonia is the only Etruscan town on the sea and probably during its time it was connected to nearby Volterra, another important ancient site. A 15th century fortress made with stones stolen from the Etruscan ruins dominates the tiny town. The perfect way to round out an exploration of this beautiful area is to visit the ancient hot springs of nearby Venturina. Bathe under the stars in a pristine thermal pool that gushes out natural water at a perfect, warm 36 degrees celcius and relax like an Etruscan noble.