San Vincenzo is a municipality in the province of Livorno that merges natural beauty and hospitality, sea and countryside and leisure and history. This spot is perfect for vacationing year round: when it gets too cold for beautiful sandy beaches, you’ll find plenty of other exciting things to do. San Vincenzo's earliest settlements date to the Paleolithic era, probably due to the strategic location of nearby metalliferous hills and the Cecina and Cornia rivrs. The town’s location was ideal for the Etruscans, as archeological digs indicate settlements bustling with life. Its proximity to Populonia, the main Etruscan city, and the presence of minerals and large forests caused the development of an active mining industry (extraction and fusion). The settlement was further developed by the Romans before being taken by both Longobard and Pisan forces. Today, this modern and efficient town offers a wide range of activities and accommodations, not to mention delicious restaurants, well-equipped sports facilities, a beautiful harbor and spectacular natural life.
What to see in San Vincenzo and its surroundings:
The Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro covers an area of 450 hectares and vaunts one-of-a-kind artifacts related to the mining and metallurgical cycle (from Etruscan times to today). The mineral tour begins at the Museum of Archaeology and Minerals and the Miniera del Temperino, where an experienced guide takes visitors underground to discover the colors and wonders of the mining world. After exploring the mine, you’ll reach the Pozzo Earle Machinery and Mining Museum, where you'll journey through the Lanzi-Temperino tunnel aboard a train following an old mineral path. But the best has yet to come: upon exiting the tunnels, you’ll see the ruins of the Rocca San Silvestro, a medieval mining village of singular beauty. Climb to the top to enjoy spectacular views of the Tuscan archipelago.
The modern Gulf of Baratti was once one of the most important Etruscan ports on the Tuscan coast. Here, the sand appears black and silver due to mineral remains of ancient iron processing. The bay vaunts a long, sandy beach flanked by a thick pine forest and a small tourist habor. Cross the street behind Baratti Beach and you’ll find an Etruscan necropolis, today part of the Baratti and Populonia Archeological Park.
Like the Archaeological Mining Park of San Silvestro, Populonia’s archeological museum is part of the Val di Cornia and Populonia Parks network and is one of the area’s main cultural centers. This open-air museum, a unique Etruscan settlement built directly on the coast, features necropolises, quarries and ancient quarters for ironworking. Visit the park and you’ll find educational panels documenting Populonia’s history, the San Cerbone monumental necropolis and the Necropolis delle Grotte (from the 4th century B.C.E.). The park also contains the Populonia acropolis and its temples, thermal baths and the medieval San Quirico monastery. The Necropolis of San Cerbone is a spectacular example of Etruscan funereal architecture and is the only existing Etruscan necropolis built on the sea. Walk around the park and admire the burial mounds, or if you’re up for a hike, meander through a charming forest to reach the Buca delle Fate, a small, hidden bay nearby.
Hours change seasonally and can be found here. Read more about the Archeological Park of Baratti and Populonia.
Populonia, also called Populonia Alta, is a charming, old town situated in an impressive location: one of the main promontories that form the Gulf of Baratti. Populonia still preserves 15th-century fortifications built by the Lords of Piombino (the Appiani family), who constructed the city walls in the first half of the 15th century to defend the city from pirates. Modern Populonia is located inside a small portion of the walled acropolis of the larger ancient city. Surrounded by the sea, the village vaunts cobblestone streets, small shops and a private museum housing Etruscan and Roman remains. This Etruscan town was one of the most important centers for the processing and trade of iron that came from Elba Island’s mines.
This Tuscan gem is one of the most beautiful parks in Tuscany, a 120-hectare protected oasis with a wide-ranging, spectacular environment: Mediterranean scrub oak, juniper, myrtle, pine and more. The park can be visited on foot or bike via the many paths that weave through the area’s dense vegetation. You’ll also find rich local wild life, including pheasants, hares, weasels and foxes.
From Livorno, take SS2 in the direction of Grosseto (south): 60 kilometers later, you’ll reach the exit for San Vincenzo. By train or bus, get off at the San Vincenzo station and take a bus to Piombino. The closest bus stop is located on the main road (called Principessa), though there’s still a 20-minute walk to the bay. You'll also find a rail station in Populonia and a shuttle service.
Distance: Livorno 60 km - Florence 130 km - Pisa 80 km - Siena 100 km - Arezzo 190 km
Photo Credits: Serena Puosi