Scarlino, medieval hamlet and seaside resort
Scarlino is a lively medieval village perched in a panoramic position, at an altitude of 229 meters above sea level. The center is located in a hilly area, on the offshoots of Monte d’Alma, about 7 kilometers from the sea, which has been inhabited since ancient times. Some finds found near the Rocca di Scarlino document a human presence dating back to the Bronze Age; these are followed by other findings that testify how a settlement existed even in the Hellenistic period (4th-2nd century BC).
Like many other Tuscan villages, Scarlino also took on its current forms during the medieval era, the period that more than any other enriched the village with monuments and works of art. Scarlino is mentioned for the first time in a document of 973 and was a fief of the Aldobrandeschi counts until the twelfth century. In 1227 the village was bought by the Pisans who remodeled the Aldobrandeschi fortress which still dominates the town today. At the end of the 14th century, Scarlino passed to the Appiani family and became part of the Principality of Piombino.
Joined the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1815, Scarlino was merged into Gavorrano and returned to being an independent municipality only in 1960. Today it is a renowned holiday resort which also makes use of the tourist port of Puntone. Scarlino is a place capable of combining cultural tourism and seaside tourism.
What to see in Scarlino
Typical Tuscan hilltop hamlet made of irregular streets that follow the course of the ridge, Scarlino has a historic center full of points of interest. There are many interesting things to see, including the Rocca Pisana, historical buildings such as the Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo del Conte, churches like that of San Donato and some interesting archaeological museums.
Rocca Pisana (also called Castello di Scarlino) is one of the many fortresses built by the powerful family of the Aldobrandeschi counts during the Middle Ages. The name “Rocca Pisana” derives from the fact that the Pisans, once they took possession of the village, intervened heavily on the fortress, changing its appearance.
Located at the highest point of the village, the fortress has a pentagonal plan with double walls on which stand three corner towers of different shapes (one circular and two quadrangular). Among the various military structures with which Scarlino was equipped, the fortress is certainly the best preserved also thanks to the restoration works carried out in the twentieth century. During these restorations, the area where the fortress stands was the subject of some archaeological excavation campaigns that allowed to bring to light the remains of numerous structures including those of the ancient Pieve di Santa Maria that hid a real treasure consisting of 100 gold coins!
Museums in Scarlino
In Scarlino there are the Centro di Documentazione del Territorio per gli Etruschi and the Centro di Documentazione del Terrirorio Riccardo Francovich while in the near locality Puntone there is the Museo Archeologico del Portus Scabris. There are three interesting archaeological museums focused on Scarlino and the surrounding area that offer a complete overview of the history of this area. In particular, the Centro di Documentazione del Territorio Riccardo Francovich preserves the finds that come from the area of the fortress, including the coins that make up the so-called “treasure of Scarlino“.
Chiesa di San Donato
The Church of San Donato has been documented since 1188 as part of the Augustinian convent. The structure has undergone several interventions over the centuries: enlarged between the seventeenth and seventeenth centuries, the church was much remodeled in 1929 when changes were made to the interior and the bell tower. The structure is in Pisan Romanesque style with a gabled façade with a portal dominated by a lunette and a splayed rose window.
Inside you can admire some frescoes, including Santa Lucia and Sant’Agostino and a Madonna and Child Enthroned, works on canvas such as the resurrected Christ of 1640 and the “Holy face” between San Rocco and San Gerolamo adored by two confreres kneeling at the beginning of the 16th century and the marble sepulchral monument of Vanni and Emanuele Appiani, sons of Jacopo III lord of Piombino, made by Andrea Guardi.
The Palazzo Comunale of Scarlino is an imposing medieval building that stands in the middle of the historic center. Also known as Palazzo Pretorio, this palace is mentioned for the first time in a document of 1276. Over the centuries this palace has performed various functions having been the seat of the court and the municipality as well as having served as the Palazzo Pretorio.
Once equipped with a clock tower, demolished in 1950 to avoid structural damage, the Palazzo Comunale di Scarlino shows on the facade the coat of arms of the Appiani family and that of the Municipality which is located on the main facade above the double entrance portal.
Things to do around Scarlino
- Beaches near Scarlino
- Area archeologica di Poggio Tondo
- Padule and Costiere di Scarlino
- Parco Nazionale delle Colline Metallifere Grossetane
Beaches near Scarlino
The sea is located just 7 kilometers from the historic center of Scarlino. Along the Scarlin coast there are some of the most beautiful beaches not only of Tuscany but of all of Italy as certified also by Legambiente which included Scarlino in the guide Il mare più bello 2019 (The most beautiful sea 2019). The best known are Cala Martina and Cala Violina which are found in the Bandite di Scarlino natural area, a forest complex crossed by numerous paths that can be traveled on foot or by bicycle.
Area Archeologica Etrusca di Poggio Tondo
We must go back inland to reach the archaeological area of Poggio Tondo where, since the eighties of the twentieth century, excavations have returned the remains of an Etruscan necropolis consisting of 4 tumulus tombs as well as another building which was believed to be a farm.
Padule and Costiere di Scarlino
The Padule and the Costiere di Scarlino constitute a protected natural area that extends over an area of 752 hectares which goes from the Padule di Scarlino to the Pian d’Alma plain. The area is characterized by low hills covered by woods, coves on the sea and a wet area (the Padule) that is a good place for birdwatching.
Parco Nazionale delle Colline Metallifere Grossetane
Scarlino is part of the Parco Nazionale delle Colline Metallifere Grossetane; in particular in the town of Scarlino there are two “access doors to the park” at the Rocca Pisana and at the Archaeological Museum of the Portus Scabris. The park is spread over the territory of seven municipalities of the Maremma (Follonica, Gavorrano, Massa Marittima, Monterotondo Marittimo, Montieri, Roccastrada and Scarlino) and is focused on the history of the mining activities that have affected this area over the centuries.
How to get to Scarlino
Public transport: the nearest railway station is that of Follonica which is connected to Scarlino by bus of the TIEMME company.
Car: to reach Scarlino by car you should take the A12 motorway to the Scarlino exit.