Guide to the visit of Piombino, the port on the Etruscan Coast
Located in the last stretch of the Etruscan Coast, Piombino is the second most important port in all of Tuscany after Livorno. The city rises on the homonymous promontory from which it enjoys a spectacular view of the sea and the Island of Elba.
As it is easy to imagine, most of the tourist activities of Piombino are linked to the sea, both due to the presence of numerous beaches in the area that for the port from which the ferries connect the mainland to the various islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, Sardinia and Corsica.
The surrounding area, once land of Etruscans, preserves a great natural heritage protected by some natural parks such as those of Val di Cornia and many archaeological sites such as those in the area of Baratti and Populonia.
A little bit of history…
The history of Piombino has its roots in the Etruscan era and for a long time was linked to the Republic of Pisa until, in 1399 it became an autonomous principality. Four centuries later the city became part of the Principato di Lucca e Piombino ruled by Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi who used to call Piombino: “my little Paris“.
Developed as an industrial city in the second half of the nineteenth century, Piombino was heavily involved during the Second World War, especially during the so-called “Battle of Piombino” in 1943, considered by historians one of the first pages of the italian resistance against nazis. Thanks to the value shown during those dramatic moments, the city has been awarded with the Gold Medal for military valor by the former President of the Italian Republic, Azeglio Ciampi.
Main points of interest in Piombino
- Torrione e Rivellino
- Palazzo Comunale e Torre dell’Orologio
- Le chiese di Piombino
- Museo del Castello
- Museo archeologico del Territorio di Populonia
- Piazza Bovio
Torrione and Rivellino
Over centuries Piombino has been equipped with various fortified structures such as the Torrione which was the ancient gateway to the city. Built in 1200, the Torrione is the only monument dating back to the communal era. The Rivellino was built in 1447; it’s a powerful semicircular structure located right near the Torrione to which it is directly connected.
Palazzo Comunale and Torre dell’Orologio
The Palazzo Comunale of Piombino was erected in 1444 when the council of elders decided to change their seat which until then had been the so-called “Palazzaccio”, a building that no longer exists. Inside you can admire some frescoes including a Madonna with Child, paintings representing the Princes of Piombino and the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, a leonine head dating back to the 12th century and other works. Next to the Town Hall you can admire the elegant Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower). The tower dates back to 1598, while the clock and the bell are from the early twelfth century. Both the Palazzo Comunale and the Torre dell’Orologio were objects of substantial restoration works in 1935.
The churches of Piombino
Piombino preserve several noteworthy religious buildings, among which the most important is the Concattedrale di Sant’Antimo of 1337. Here are some interesting works such as the baptismal font and some paintings. Attached to the Cathedral there is a convent and a cloister which leads to the Museo diocesano d’Arte Sacra “Andrea Guardi”. Among the other churches we mention the Chiesa della Misericordia and the Cappella della Cittadella.
Castello di Piombino
The Castle is the most important defensive structure of the city. Built by the Pisans in the twelfth century, the “Cassero Pisano” was first remodeled by Leonardo da Vinci and, at the time of Cosimo I de ‘Medici, equipped with new defenses and renamed “Fortezza Medicea”.
Today the complex is the seat of the Museo del Castello that illustrates the history of the castle and exposes what was found during the archaeological excavations carried out inside the building.
1 July – 3 September: open every day
Other periods: open on reservation
Tickets: Full: 6 euro; reductions for minors, groups and families.
The Citadel was a sort of city within the city that was built during the XV century by the will of the Prince of Piombino Jacopo III Appiani. Originally fortified, inside there were the Palazzo Principesco, a church and other buildings used for the court and servants. Of these structures is preserved the Cappella di Sant’Anna (also called Chiesa della Cittadella), the cistern, part of the walls and the Palazzo della Corte which now houses the Museo Archeologico del Territorio di Populonia.
Museo Archeologico del Territorio di Populonia
Inside the museum there are numerous finds from the territory of Populonia that cover a time span ranging from prehistory to late antiquity. Among the various works on display, the best known is certainly the so-called “Anfora di Baratti“. Made in the fourth century after Christ, the amphora presents 132 medallions on which various characters of the classical world are depicted. It is worth briefly telling the story of its discovery: lost during a shipwreck, the amphora was fished out in 1968 by a group of local fishermen who, pulling their nets, found this unique artifact in their hands. Lucky guys!
For information on timetables and tickets, I refer you to the museum’s website.
We finally come to the most famous place in Piombino: Piazza Bovio. Built on a rocky spur, this square is a large terrace overlooking the sea from which you can enjoy a beautiful view: on the clear days you can see many of the islands of the Tuscan archipelago. If you are looking for a place to take some spectacular photos, Piazza Bovio is the one for you!
Things to do around Piombino
How to get to Piombino
By train: Piombino has its own train station that is not far from the historic center.
By car: from the north, take the A12 motorway till the exit for Venturina. From there continue on SS398 towards Piombino. From the south you can take the Aurelia until Vignale Riotorto and then continue on SP40 till destination.