There is a corner in Tuscany, straddled between the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto, in which six protected areas share a territory rich in history and nature. In this small fraction of land, the sand dunes that run along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea transform themselves into a shaded and forested environment, sloping inland into a sea of wooded hills. This is the area of the Val di Cornia, a district consisting of two coastal parks, an archaeological park, an archaeological mining park, a forestry park, a protected nature reserve and three museums that narrate the local history.
From the coast to the inland, the parks of the Val di Cornia wind through nature, becoming an true playground for lovers of the outdoors who, within a small area, can at the same time find unique and very different natural environments.
The coastal area of Rimigliano, the first of the six parks starting from the furthest north, is a long green strip of land overlooking the sea, composed of oaks and pine trees among which thousands of cicadas sings in the summer season.
The Sterpaia Nature Park, also facing the Tyrrhenian, is a precious example of a humid forest, typical of the ancient coastal landscape of the Maremma. Saved after years of battling against unregulated construction activities, it extends over a surface area of circa 300 hectares, across dunes, woodland and clearings.
Amid the leaves, the splendours of the Montioni Natural Park and the forest of Poggio Neri can also be found. Among the inland hills covered by holm oaks, chestnuts and oak trees, there are many trekking routes which can be done by foot, on horseback or by mountain-bike. These were the areas of the coalmen and woodsmen, people of another age who experienced the woods daily and were able to obtain its precious fruits.
From the land to its hidden core: that’s how the San Silvestro Archaeological Mining Park was born. Located at the gates of the municipality of Campiglia Marittima, it encompasses an area of 450 hectares, which can be visited along many signposted routes, mining tunnels and an original medieval village, founded almost a thousand years ago by miners. Even the heart of the earth can be explored, that is, the Temperino mines, where sulphur, copper, lead, silver and iron were once extrcted. Running even further back in time, atop the promontory in Piombino, the Baratti and Populonia Archaeological Park conserves the remains of its namesake city, which was originally Etruscan and later Roman. Lastly, three museums preserve the traces of the local culture, from the Etruscan period in the Populonia Archaeological Museum to the Middle Ages in the Museums in Castello, mediaeval ceramics in Piombino and the Fortress in Campiglia.
A week outdoors in the Val di Cornia is synonymous with an experience in close contact with nature and the land, enriched by the charm of the Tuscan landscape and bestowed with a variety of natural environments that this Tuscan corner can offer to the attentive and curious visitor. The point of departure of each excursion must be reached by car.
For information on opening hours and ticket fees: parchivaldicornia.it