The territory of Val di Cornia is characterised by the presence of Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister, whose was, together with her husband Felice Baciocchi, first Princess of Piombino and Lucca from 1805 to 1808, and then of all of Tuscany from 1809 to 1814, bringing a wave of innovation to the area.
Indeed, Elisa boosted agriculture, the arts and trade.
Day 1: Discovering Piombino
The Archaeological Museum of Populonia is located in the centre of Piombino within the walled “Citadel” designed also by the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, in an elegant building, the 19th century Palazzo Nuovo, built for Princess Elisa Bonaparte and her husband Felice Baciocchi.
On the opposite side of Piazza Bovio, the Castle and Medieval Ceramics Museum has a section dedicated to the principality of Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi and an important coin collection that shows the mint of Piombino and the coins struck by the Appiani, Ludovisi, Orsini and Baciocchi families between 1594 and1814.
Day 2: The Nature Park of Montioni and the museums in Suvereto
In 1809, after scouting Val di Cornia, Elisa Bonaparte decided to reopen the alum mines at Montioni, discovered in the 15th century but inactive for many years, and ordered that a village be built close to the old quarries.
Some buildings used as homes, the director’s house, the alum furnace, the thermal baths, a cistern and the commemorative stele remain of this ancient village, now called Montioni Nuovo, and can be admired along a signposted route.
The day can start or end with a visit to the Rocca Aldobrandesca Museum (link to the Rocca Museum) in whose rooms important characters and historical events are reproduced: from the journey of Emperor Henry VII to Princess Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, along with the distinctive characteristics of a free and open space, land of cattle drives and wine-making.
Digressing from the theme? In the town of Suvereto there is also the Museum of Doll Art (link to the Doll Museum), an exhibition of over 50 dolls that trace the evolution of costumes, styles and materials, illustrating some moments of Italy’s more recent history..
What you need to know
Val di Cornia offers many ideas for tours and visits. You can alternate visits to parks and museums with relaxation on the beach, visits to wine cellars and farms, and moments of wellness in the thermal structures.