An excursion of historical and naturalistic interest crosses one of the most fascinating stretches of the Etruscan Coast. The path takes in sky and sea while surrounded by the dense Mediterranean scrub that starts from Piombino in the Cala Moresca area, from one of the entrances to the network of paths on the headland.
The itinerary follows the Via dei Cavalleggeri, a name that derives from the medieval finanzieri who controlled this stretch of coast, granted by the Papal State to the Pisan Republic.
The route runs along the ridge of the Piombino headland, immersed in the Mediterranean scrub and holm oak forest. In places where it opens up, it offers panoramic views of the Etruscan Coast and Elba Island.
The path is quite linear. It starts with a dirt road which then becomes a well-maintained path with various inclines and declines, passing through wooded stretches. From the main path, various well-signposted detours take you to the beaches of Fosso alle Canne and Cala San Quirico.
Continuing along the path, you reach a clearing on the slopes of Poggio Tondo on the Piombino headland where you'll find the ruins of the San Quirico monastery, a Benedictine ecclesiastical complex. The activity of this monastery lasted until the last years of the sixteenth century, when it was abandoned by the monks and used as a stable.
At the end of the path, you can turn off towards the famous beach of Buca delle Fate, with its characteristic sandstone rocks called tafoni. It's reached by taking the path numbered 301 from the car park that crosses the Buche delle Fate area. Etruscan underground tombs are easily visible along the way.
Heading on after the car park in Reciso, you reach the fortified village of Populonia by walking along a paved road, not far from the ancient Etruscan-Roman acropolis. The lively area features many shops and businesses, with a wonderful view of the Gulf of Baratti and the archipelago islands.
In the village, you can visit the Gasparri museum which houses a private collection of Etruscan finds. The Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia is an open-air museum of Etruscan civilization that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea and includes ancient Populonia ruins. In the upper part, consisting of the Acropolis of Populonia, we can admire temples, buildings, mosaics and streets from the Roman era.
The route descends to the Gulf of Baratti, famous for its red sand beach. Here, you can visit the necropolis of the Archaeological Park: the San Cerbone Necropolis and the Necropolis of the Caves.
It's worth highlighting that most of the ancient finds from the area are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of the Territory of Populonia, located in Piombino.
To return to Piombino, retrace your path. A possible alternative is path number 302 which runs along the coast and then returns to Cala Moresca.