From Populonia to San Silvestro on the iron and mineral routes


Following the tracks of mining and metallurgical, Etruscan, medieval, Renaissance and modern workings, you can understand the ancient production techniques and the history of Tuscany, the land that overlooks the island of Elba. The production of iron and metals that had been  monetised for centuries was the main economical resource of the Val di Cornia, where the mining industry, one of the oldest and most continuous over time, has indelibly marked the landscape.

The Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia can be considered as natural outdoor museum of gleaming iron, that affirm the strength of the Etruscan industrial city. The beach is speckled by the burial tombs of the great Etruscan necropolis of San Cerbone. The hills that overlook the sea preserve traces of the ancient caves and tombs carved into the rock. The acropolis ruins of the ancient city dominate the gulf. The routes today, as in the past, follow the original roads (made of basolo, an ancient large and heavy stone), running through the Mediterranean forest and opening on to  wonderfully unexpected views of the Elba island. One of these routes leads through the woods of the headland to reach the ruins of the Benedictine monastery of San Quirico. Everything related to this archaeology "takes shape" in the ceramic creative workshops which take place at the Experimental Archaeology Centre.

The Archaeological Mine Park of San Silvestro, in the northern hills of Campiglia Marittima, recounts the history of a vast mining area rich in copper deposits, lead and silver. By foot or on board a characteristic train popular with youngsters, the tourist will live the unique experience of travelling along the extraction and ore processing areas, activities that lasted from the Etruscan period until 1976. The mine route (where the temperature is typically 13-14 ° C) and the route on the mining train represent a fun and diverse way to experience "history." The heart of the park is “Rocca San Silvestro”, a medieval village of miners and metal smelters, which offers an exclusive journey through the remains of the houses, the church, the cemetery, the noble zone and the industrial area. Radiant and proud, oblivious to the whipping wind, the fortress dominates the surrounding countryside, proudly preserving its place in history.

Each park is equipped with a visitor centre, a food court and space for educational activities and workshops. From the Populonia to San Silvestro route of iron and minerals, everyone can build their own tour through history.