Breathtaking landscapes, between nature and culture
From a geological point of view, the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia is dominated by boulder and sandstone formations, two sedimentary rocks formed 30 million years and 150,000 thousand years ago.
Both are typical of marine environments but, while the former deposited in deep sea environments, relatively far from the coast, the latter is a shallow water coastal sediment. Boulder, a huge rock and more resistant to high temperatures, was used to make the melting furnaces for the processing of minerals arriving from Elba.
Given the ease with which it could be extracted and worked, sandstone was the most commonly used construction material in both the Etruscan and Roman periods of Populonia.
The flora of the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia is fairly homogeneous due to the dominance of the Mediterranean scrub; however, in some areas is conserves important floristic evidence of bygone climates, different from those of today.
The flora in the park is characterised by four main environments:
- the rocky coast, colonised up to just a few metres from the sea by fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), wild carrot (Daucus carota L.), Italian strawflower (Helichrysum italicum) and the silvery Jupiter’s beard (Anthyllis barba-jovis), while juniper (Juniperus communis) grows further inland and, finally, the evergreen shrubs of the Mediterranean scrub (Arbutus unedo, Myrto communis, Pistacia lentiscus, Phyllirea angustifolia e latifolia);
- the Mediterranean scrub, the most representative vegetation of the headland, dominated by the holm oak (Quercus ilex);
- the mixed wood, comprising plants relegated to the cool and humid valleys, where there are also chestnuts (Castanea sativa), common broom (Cystus scoparius), holly (Ilex aquifolium) and bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), typical of mountainous and Atlantic environments;
- the uncultivated areas and clearings, colonised by numerous species of herbaceous plants such as gooseberry (Ribes uva – crispa), blueweed (Echium vulgare), common mullein (Verbascum nigro), golden thistle (Scolymus hispanicus), common chicory (Cichorium intybus L.), golden hardhack that, in springtime, with their blooms, adorn the bare hill sides with brush strokes of colour ranging from pink to light blue and yellow.
The fauna in the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia reflects the large variety of the plants.
The animals you can spot here include wild boar, porcupines, badgers and foxes.
The typical birds that can be seen by the more attentive visitors include blackcaps, goldfinches, titmouses, magpies and buzzards. Finally, in the woods and on the hills you can also encounter reptiles such as vipers, rat snakes and tortoises.