Etruscan Coast

What to do in Populonia, an ancient etruscan town
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What to do in Populonia: sea, archaeology and a wonderful view

Populonia stands on the promontory of Piombino on the southern edge of the Gulf of Baratti, in one of the most typical areas of the Tuscan coast. Baratti and Populonia are famous both for their beautiful blue sea and for the archaeological sites linked to the ancient Etruscan civilization. If you decide to spend a holiday in these parts, you can organize a stay that combines culture with relaxation on the sea… what more could you want?


The numerous archaeological remains that today are part of the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia, document the ancient history of Populonia, a powerful and important Etruscan city that was part of the so-called dodecapolis. At the time, Populonia was a coastal city of considerable importance and made its fortune with the processing and trade of iron, of which it was one of the main centers in the whole Mediterranean.

The decline of the Etruscan city probably began in the first century BC. and, in the centuries following the fall of the Roman Empire, it was first devastated by the Lombards and then sacked by pirates. The reconstruction of the village, in the forms we still see today, dates back to the 15th century when Populonia was rebuilt by the Appiani, princes of Piombino. It is to them that we owe the current layout of the city and the construction of its fortifications.

What to do in Populonia A tower dominating the sea
A tower dominating the sea

What to see in Populonia

The visit to Populonia is divided into two parts: the first is dedicated to Populonia Alta, and it is the part we will talk about in this article, the second is dedicated to the Gulf of Baratti and the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia located downstream , not far from the sea. We talk more about the part relating to the sea and the archaeological park in the article dedicated to Baratti.

In the upper part you will find a delightful medieval village and the ancient acropolis. In the medieval village of Populonia there are the castle, the tower, the church of Santa Croce and the Etruscan Museum to visit. At the acropolis, on the other hand, you can visit the archaeological excavations that have brought to light the remains of numerous ancient structures.

Archaeological area

The wide Parco di Archeologico-naturalistico di Populonia e Baratti is composed by many archeological sites documenting the civilization of this area since the iron age. Inside the park is possible to visit some necropolis as the necropoli di San Cerbone and Casone, the acropolis located near the medieval hamlet and the remains of the industrial district where the iron was forged. In addition to these etruscan sites, tehre are also the Monastero di San Quirico and the Centro di archeologia sperimentale “Davide Mancini”.

Populonia - Necropolis of San Cerbone
Necropolis of San Cerbone (Photo by AlMare / CC BY)

If you are interest in guided tours and itineraries, we suggest to consult the official website.

Acropolis of Populonia

The acropolis is in the hilly area just outside the walls of the village. Since 1980 this area has been the subject of archaeological excavations that brought to light the remains of several structures including some Roman temples and a paved road.

What to do in Populonia Acropolis
Acropolis (Photo by Glen Bowman)

Not far from the acropolis, an excavation in the archaeological site of Poggio Molino brought to light the remains of a Roman site born with defensive functions with later evolved into farm first and then villa.

The medieval hamlet of Populonia

The small medieval hamlet of Populonia was founded in the 15th century and is strongly characterised by the defensive structuresand the castle built by the Appiani. Still surrounded by its medieval walls, the centre has in the Rocca the main monument. It is a quadrangular fortress with a semicircular Tower and a high central tower. From the walkway of the walls and especially from the tower you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the sea and the land. In front of the fortress, on the other side of the square, there is the 15th century chiesa di Santa Maria della Croce.

What to do in Populonia the Fortress Rocca
The Fortress of Populonia

Etruscan Museum

Inside the village is housed the Museo Etrusco di Populonia – Collezione Gasparri, a small archaeological museum that exposes findings coming from the archaeological excavations of Baratti. Among these finds there are items from the tombs of Populonia and some discoveries made at sea as amphorae and anchors.

Address: via di Sotto 8

Opening hours:
April – October: every day 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-20.00
October – March: saturday, sunday and holidays (not on 25 and 26 december) 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00

Tickets: regular 2,50 euro; reduced 1,50 euro; family 7 euro
Cumulative ticket with the tower of Populonia (2 euro for the tower): regular 4 euro; reduced 2 euro; family 11 euro

Museo Etrusco di Populonia - Collezione Gasparri
Museo Etrusco di Populonia – Collezione Gasparri (Photo by Sailko / CC BY)

Things to do and what see in the surroundings of Populonia

Populonia is located in the wonderful Etruscan Coast, an area famous for its beautiful beaches but also for the many villages that are scattered there. Among these, Castagneto Carducci, Bolgheri, Campiglia Marittima and Suvereto are definitely worth a visit.

How to get to Populonia

By train and bus: by train you can get to the station of Populonia which though are located inland and from there take the bus line 031 of Tiemme Piombino. Otherwise you can reach Piombino by train and then take line 02A to station of Populonia and then the 031 up to destination.

By car: coming from the North take the A12 Highway and exit at San Vincenzo sud, from there you can continue along the coast towards Baratti or continue on SP39 until Venturina and then turn right onto Strada Provinciale delle Caldanelle. Coming from the South exit of the A12 is Venturina.

Where to sleep in Populonia

In the Populonia area there are various holiday homes, hotels, bed and brekfasts and campsites. Many hotels are also found in nearby Piombino.

Search now for a hotel in Populonia using the form below!
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