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Volterra by bike
Photo ©Enrico Caracciolo

Follow the traces of the Etruscans from Volterra to Populonia, by bike!

Across the Val di Cornia area in the footsteps of the ancient Etruscans

There is something magical along this route that describes us many sides of Tuscany. It is a triumph of landscapes with breath-taking views, hiddenvillages, and enchanted woods.

First leg
Volterra and its alabaster

We start from Volterra, a city that overlooks Val di Cecina and Valdera. The art of Volterra is in the stone, strong andtough as its Etruscan and Medieval walls, fragile as the grounds subject to landslides that sculpt the Balze, precipices that seem to remember at all timesthe transience of things, of certainties, and securities. The stone of Volterra is white, as white as the soul of a supernatural beauty, almosttransparent. White is the alabaster, a soft stone carved, worked, modelled, and polished by the hands of Volterra families. From Etruscan cinerary urns tothe modern sculptures of craftsmen and artists, the alabaster is an alphabet of stone through which ideas, hands, and the sensitivity of Volterra find ameans of communication.

Second leg
Towards the Devil's Valley

The ancient, immutable, and intact landscape of the Val di Cecina suddenly becomes futuristic through the Colline Metallifere, where the hot energy ofmother earth is enclosed in metal ducts that run, jump and overlook the streets, rippling and enveloping entire hills; here and there boric acid fumarolessilently paint in white the sky of Larderello and of the Valle del Diavolo.

Third leg
Deep into the woods of the Val di Cecina

The last village that ignores the Mediterranean horizons to immerse itself inthe shades of oaks and chestnut trees is Sassetta, a microcosm tied up to the stories of the forest, homeland to coal miners and loggers, poets anddreamers.

Fourth leg
Campiglia Marittima, overlooking the sea

The horizon is tinged with azure in Campiglia Marittima, overlooking the ethereal profiles of the Island of Elba. Mediterranean breezes and slapsof Libeccio decay on this stubble marquis, with its large pine trees, olive groves and noble vineyards. The Val di Cornia is scented by sea and history.Roads and trails synthesize the vocation of a territory linked to the extraction and processing of minerals, since the Etruscan times, up to today.

Fifth leg
A glimpse of the Etruscan coast

An environmental variety marks the territory, in which diverse landscapes live together, where it is good to live and even better to travel. Here are somepostcard locations that cannot be missed: One of the most beautiful squares in the world? Piazza Bovio, in Piombino, literally in the middle of the sea. A path lying between sky and sea? The one between Cala Moresca and Populonia. The most beautiful stone pines in Tuscany? In Baratti. The most coveted track for cyclists? From Sassetta to Suvereto, a triumph of curves and reverse curves. The acropolis closer to paradise? Populonia. A Medieval site that speaks through the whistling of the wind? The Fortress of San Silvestro.

The promontory of Piombino is the perfect destination for anyone who loves vast horizons. On clear days, the Island of Elba seems within reach, and it justlooks like you could jump over to the sharp profiles of Corsica: it is a door wide open on the Mediterranean Sea. From Cala Moresca to the acropolis of Populonia, passing through Buche delle Fate (Fairies Holes), the 2500 years that separate us from the Etruscan civilization become mere centimetres. As amatter of fact, we are a couple of steps away from the Etruscan Hypogean tombs that accompany us on the path to the coast. This magical name was given tothese mysterious "holes" by woodcutters and loggers who lived and worked in the maquis of the promontory of Piombino: they thought that the cavities werenightly dwellings of supernatural benign beings. It only takes a twenty minutes' walk "between the fairies" to get to the Tuscany Finis Terrae.

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