The parks of Val di Cornia are the perfect way to combine sports and culture in one single vacation. Numerous itineraries allow visitors to discover the most amazing landscapes belonging to the area’s most ancient civilization, the Etruscans. Necropolises, woods, archeological sites and trails running high above the seashore are just some of the surprises just waiting to be discovered. Reservations are required for all visits.
Not to be missed: San Cerbone Necropolis—Located in the lower portion of the park near the Visitors’ Center (Podere San Cerbone). The visit includes the tumulus and tombs of Populonia (7th and 6th centuries B.C.), which show the evolution of the architecture of funerary monuments. The area was covered by slag from ancient metal working activities that took place there.
Necropolis of the Grottos—Located in the hills facing the Gulf of Baratti, this necropolis boasts tombs built into the rock, an indigenous type of sandstone that was often used in construction.
Experimental Archeological Center—Going towards the Necropolis of the Grottos, you will come across this center where visitors can participate in various activities on ancient technology. Two expert guides will instruct visitors in the use of everyday pre- and proto-historic objects. The center is open to park visitors on weekends during the spring and every day during the summer. For details, contact the Val di Cornia Information Office.
Industrial Area—This area boasts the remnants of the area’s iron-working activities such as the preparation of materials before insertion into the ovens. The heavy layers of dark red (nearly violet) rock indicate the presence of iron in the soil still today.
Populania Acropolis—Easy and linear trail to follow to the area’s Roman temples once located in a large piazza in the center of the ancient center. A long and winding trail leads in front of the “logge”—an imposing terrace that constituted the base for the rich atmosphere. Three dimensional reconstructions and illustrations help visitors understand these imposing structures.
Via dell’Acropolis—Trail that leads to the bluff where the first Etruscan settlements in Populonia can be found. Take a walk around the most ancient set of city walls. Panoramic views of the southern coast and Elba Island.
San Quirico Monastery—Hidden in a wood, the monastery dates back to the 11th century. The courtyard, once decorated with sculptures, is now at the center of the church and monastery, both of which are dominated by an imposing tower.
Via dell Ferro—Trail through tumulus tombs and ancient buildings connected to ironworking.
Via delle Cave—Trail through a thick wood broken up by ancient caves used in the extraction of rock for tombs. Beautiful path with views over the Gulf of Baratti and the Necropolis of the Grottos.
Via del Monastero—This trail separates from the via delle Cave to continue towards the opposite bluff until reaching the Benedictine San Quirico monastery. Beautiful and suggestive views.
Via della Romanella—Along the Via del Ferro is a trail that leads the remains of the Populonia wall, which then leads up to the city’s acropolis by following the road now hidden in the woods.