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Volterra by bike
Photo ©Enrico Caracciolo

Follow in the footsteps of the Etruscans - from Volterra to Populonia by bike

Through the Val di Cornia area in the footsteps of the ancient Etruscans

First leg
Alabaster stone in Volterra
Sunset in Volterra
Sunset in Volterra - Credit: Riccardo

We start at Volterra, a city that overlooks the Val di Cecina and Valdera. The beauty of Volterra lies in its stone. Dating back to the Etruscans, the city boasts Medieval walls and is surrounded by a craggy and rocky landscape that's prone to landslides and gives the area an otherwordly feel. The stone of Volterra is white alabaster; almost transparent, it's carved, worked, modelled, and polished by the hands of local artisans. From Etruscan cinerary urns to the modern sculptures of craftsmen and artists, alabaster can be seen all over the city and is a symbol of the ancient origins of this place. 

Second leg
Towards the Devil's Valley
Larderello nature
Larderello nature - Credit: Musei Val di Cecina

Due to its geothermic properties, the ancient, immutable, and intact landscape of the Val di Cecina suddenly looks cosmic when travelling through the Colline Metallifere. Here and there, you might spot sulphuric steam floating into the white sky of Larderello and the Valle del Diavolo

Third leg
Into the woods
Sassetta
Sassetta - Credit: APT

Sassetta is a small village surrounded by oak and chestnut forests. The lush green foliage contrasts beautifully with the warm tones of the stone of the village. It was home to an important castle of the Pisan Republic that was then demolished in 1503 after the Florentine conquest. In 1516 the original Lords of the village, the Pisanis Orlandi of Sassetta, were exiled.

Fourth leg
Campiglia Marittima
Campiglia Marittima
Campiglia Marittima - Credit: Mirella

From Campiglia Marittima you can see Elba Island. The small town is surrounded by large pine trees, olive groves and vineyards. Sea air whips through the Val di Cornia, an area that's known for its rich history of extracting and processing minerals that dates back to Etruscan times.

Fifth leg
A glimpse of the Etruscan coast
Populonia fortress
Populonia fortress - Credit: Enrico Caracciolo

This area is ecologically diverse and provides some great opportunities for outdoor excursions and activities. Piazza Bovio in Piombino, the stretch of coast between Cala Moresca and Populonia, Baratti, the road from Sassetta to Suvereto and the Fortress of San Silvestro are all places of spectacular beauty not to be missed.

From Cala Moresca to the acropolis of Populonia, passing Buca delle Fate beach you get a real sense of the Etruscan presence in the area due to the Hypogean tombs that line the path to the coast. The round shape of these tombs means they were called buche delle fate, or "fairy holes", by woodcutters and loggers who lived in the local area and believed that the cavities were home to supernatural beings. 

 

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