A private society with participation of the local governments manages the system of Parks named Val di Cornia Parks. The whole system of Parks covers 5 municipalities located on the extreme South of the Province of Livorno, opposite to the Island of Elba. The system is composed of:
2 Archaeological Parks : Baratti and Populonia; and Mines Park of San Silvestro
2 Coastal Parks: Sterpaia and Rimigliano
2 Natural Parks: Montinioni and the Forestry Park of Poggio Neri
1 Archaeological Museum ate Populonia
1 Documentation Centre at Villa Lanzi, Campiglia Marittima
Baratti and Populonia Park:
Among the Parks, the most important and exciting one is the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia, which extends for 80 hectares between the slopes of Piombino and the Gulf of Baratti. The Baratti – Populonia Park is a real open-air museum, reflecting the impressive “industrial” Etruscan village, positioned properly in that area first of all because it is a promontory by the Sea and second, because the area was rich in metals, the base of that civilization.
The Etruscans used to build their cities on the slopes and hills, called Acropolis, while their thumbs on the level of the Sea, called Necropolis. The Acropolis is located right beside the town of Populonia, an unique Etruscan settlement, after dominated by the Romans and turned into a medieval Fortress. In the Acropolis itinerary of the Park is possible to see clearly the Etruscan aristocratic city side by side with the Roman ruins and roads. A network of walking itineraries connects the Acropolis uphill and the Necropolis downhill. Visitor can see clearly how was the transformation of this scenery over the centuries.
The natural panorama is what have changed the less, and is still as breathtaking as ever. Specially from Populonia, you can visit the Fortress and climb the watch tower to enjoy an unique view over the many lakes and lagoons that extends in the internal of the promontory of Piombino, among them the Gulf of Baratti, between the continent and the Island of Elba. One of the routes of the Park aims to follow the history of the medieval times. Among the woods you will be able to reach the hidden Benedictine Monastery of San Quirico, the only witness of an old city. In Populonia you can visit the Archaeological Museum.
Mines Park of San Silvestro:
Also very interesting and unique is the Mines Park of San Silvestro, located in Campiglia Marittima, covering 450 hectares of the slopes and hills from the inner side. This Parks preserves important examples of metallurgical mining from the Etruscan times till today. There are many planned routes that will lead you to different parts of this complex: encompass museums, mining tunnels, a medieval village founded by miners and local foundry men. A rich complex of paths of historical, archaeological, natural and geological interest make this Park a complete experience of knowledge and fun.
You can book at the Visitor Centre a complete tour with professional guides that will show you the whole Park structure. It starts at the Museum, followed to the Temperino Mine, where you will discover the evolution of mining techniques of the area. Leaving the Mine there will be a climbing to the Eral Shaft where you will visit the Museum of Mining Machinery and Miners (the real base where they used to stay), which shows the last decades of mining until 1976.
A video introduces the visit to the Lanzi – Temperino tunnel, the most exciting part of the tour, by train. The train emerges at the mouth of a limestone quarry, at the installations of the Mining Company of Campiglia. The Documentation centre of the Parks system is located in Villa Lanzi, at Campiglia Marittima.
Coastal Park of Rimigliano:
The coastal Park of Rimigliano covers a wide piece of coast, nearly the whole municipality of San Vincenzo, until the boarders of Piombino and Campiglia Marittima, in total around 650 hectares. The Park extends from the coastline to the highway Rome-Genoa, along the provincial road Principessa (SP 23) which divides the Park in two sides. The seaside includes the dunes and the beach ecosystems while the opposite side includes a wide agricultural area and the local pine and oak wood.
The coastal protected lane covers an area of 120 hectares, along 6 km of coast and 250 meters wide, from the verge of the sea. The beach of Rimigliano is opened to the public, there are no bath establishment but the beach is equipped with public toilets and showers, spread in some specific points of the coast according to the Park’s management plan. This peace of coast enjoys a peculiar and privileged climate protected by the presence of the hills of Monte Calvi, the promontory of Piombino and the Island of Elba. The summer heat is relieved by the constant presence of marine breezes and the water is calm and limpid.
The Park of Rimigliano offers a splendid experience of full immersion in nature, matched with a peaceful vacation on the beach. The access is exclusively pedestrian, with shady paths among the pine trees to the beach. There are many entrances along the Provincial Road of Principessa, marked with numbers in order of appearance following the direction San Vincenzo – Piombino. There are some intermediate accesses not marked but can be distinguished by some interruptions on the wooden fence that signs the limits of the Park.
There are equipped areas for picnic between the first and the fourth entrances, and in the last one there is also a restaurant – café. Inside the Park, among the pine and oak woods, there is a fitness itinerary composed of 18 stations, each one with an equipped area for body exercises, with different difficulty stages and suitable for all ages. Each step is explained with signposts in 4 different languages. The access to this itinerary is made from the entrance number 4, located on the crossroad between the “Principessa” Road and “Via del Lago”. The entrance is free and the itinerary is done independently.
The Forestry Park of Poggio Neri:
Created with the aim to protect the Mediterranean scrub, the Forestry Park of Poggio Neri consists of an extensive hill forest set between Sassetta and Suvereto, in the hillside of the Cornia Valley. The Park is accessed by the district of “Casetta Fiorentina”, about 500 meters from the exit of the town of Sassetta, direction to Prata – Suvereto. The Poggio Neri Park receives this name because used to hide the activities of the “carbonai” – the coalman who worked there once upon a time to produce charcoal from wood.
Now it is possible to revive their experience visiting the so called Museum of the Wood, which consists actually of a thematic route through the wood where the daily life and job of the charcoal burners is represented by a hut, a kiln and the charcoal pile. The process of carbonization is rekindled every year on May 1st, in the Park, along the route called “Via del Carbone”. The slow cooking of the charcoal pile with little oxygen takes 15 days, under supervision of the charcoal burner night and day. The special feature of this route is that is has a path of 500 meters provided with disability access, within a wood of Mediterranean scrub.
Besides, the Park offer a network of well-signed trails ideal for hiking, horseback riding and cycling. The Park’s management will provide you all necessary information for the many open air activities possible inside, like trekking, horseback riding trips, mushroom picking, chestnut gathering, hunting and mountain biking. Along the paths you will find rest areas equipped for outdoor eating and natural springs of fresh drinkable water.
The both remaining Parks are located on the Southern side of the promontory of Piombino. The first one is the Coastal Park of Sterpaia, that includes 10 km of coast along the coast of Livorno, which extends from the gulf of Piombino until Follonica. This territory is also called Maremma, but is outside of another natural park, the Maremma Regional Park.
Sterpaia’s Park occupies an area of 256 hectares of the municipality of Piombino, divided in 17 hectares of unspoiled sandy beach; 124 hectares of dune hinterland and 155 hectares of woodland and agricultural areas.
The entrance is free, except for the “Poetic-Artistic Itinerary”, which includes a guided tour among the woods, upon previous booking. The Park has many private bath establishments on the beach with restaurants, showers, bathrooms, and is equipped also with public areas, with showers, bathrooms and some of them with disability access and washing facilities disabled friendly.
The last Park is the Forestry Park of Montioni, which extends in the hinterland of the Cornia Valley, covering 7000 hectares between Suvereto, Campiglia Marittima, Piombino, Massa Marittima and Follonica. Composed of a ridge of medium high hills, covered by Mediterranean holm – oak woods, tied to the historic work of men, in particular to the production of coal and timber. Montioni’s Park offers many itineraries to follow by foot, by mountain bike and by horse. In particular, the “Poggio Saracino” route is of much historical and natural interest.
The route starts on the settlement of Montioni Nuovo, founded by the Prince and Princess of Piombino, Felice and Elisa Baciocchi. Elisa was the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is possible to clearly admire the buildings of the Napoleonic period and its surrounding caves and open cast for the extraction of aluminous stone. The itinerary proceeds through a dense scrub and evergreen oak wood, till you reach the panoramic viewpoint of “Casa Saracino”, with splendid ocean views. The Park offers many picnic areas and rest areas with tables and benches. There are specific points for wildlife watching and bird watching.
For general information please visit Val di Cornia Parks Official Website and contact the Parks manager for more information about guided tours and other facilities, possible in all of the Parks.