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Coast of the Etruscans

The stretch of coastline from Livorno to Piombino is known as the Coast of the Etruscans because they settled there and exploited the area's enormous agricultural and mineral resources. The powerful Etruscan fleet criss-crossed the Tyrrhenian Sea from the ports of Vada and Baratti, and Populonia was powerful enough to issue its own coinage. Historic and tourist centres include Castiglioncello, Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina, Bibbona, Campiglia Marittima, Vada, San Vincenzo, and Castagneto Carducci. The latter owes part of its name to the poet Giosuè Carducci who lived there when he was very young, and who remained attached to it throughout his life.

Castiglioncello is the most popular summer resort on the Livorno coastline; it's a pleasant town and the Castello Pasquini hosts many cultural events and shows. Nearby, slightly inland, there is Rosignano Solvay, home to the Solvay factory that produces caustic soda, carbonate, and bicarbonate of soda. There is also a beach resort with a long beach edged with low rocks.

One of the best-equipped beaches in Tuscany is San Vincenzo, which has three miles of beach, next to which there is also a tower built by the Pisans in 1304.

Driving along an attractive road between olive groves, you come to the extremely old village of Campiglia Marittima; there was already a castle belonging to the Della Gherardesca family here in the year 1000. The town council, in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology and Art History at the University of Siena, has established the Parco Minerario dei Monti della Campiglia. It's a kind of open-air archive that starts from the Etruscan period and runs all the way through to man's recent drilling in the rocks of the area.
There are a number of Etruscan coastal cities. Populonia is one of the most important, where the Etruscans exploited the nearby iron mines; lots of remains are on display in the Museo Etrusco, and the splendid Colatoi and Flabelli tombs are also worth seeing. Then there is Castiglioncello, where an entire necropolis consisting of over two hundred tombs was found near the railway station; many of the finds are on display in the Museo Archeologico di Castiglioncello.
Finally there is Campiglia Marittima, where the Etruscans built forges to work the metal extracted from the surrounding hills.

Picture by Sandro Santioli


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