Swide takes you to the Undiscovered Places in Italy. Today we are in Populonia, the Etruscan heart of Tuscany’s famed Maremma.
Undiscovered places: Populonia
Swide takes you on a journey though the Bel Paese in search of the best Undiscovered Places in Italy. Villages, beaches, places known to only a few or to locals: a journey through the most beautiful and hidden places in Italy, a journey through the memories of those who have lived in these places.
Tuscany is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, yet the Etruscan heart of the countries most beautiful region remains largely undiscovered by foreign tourists.
Away from the rolling hills, sweeping vineyards and expanses of sunflower fields inland, on the coast facing Elba Island where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his time in exile, perched high above the Baratti Gulf is the walled town of Populonia. It is a small settlement with a population of 17 people, but the town’s dominating fortress gives an idea of the town’s historical importance to the area.
Populonia is especially known for the wealth Etruscan archaeology in the area, the name of the town is Etruscan and its museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts unearthed from the surrounding area, from tools to helmets, weapons, casks and jewellery. The site os the current town sits nest to the archeological park which contains the remains of an acropolis huge Etruscan settlement. Positioned on the summit of a hill for safety reasons, the Etruscans constructed a necropolis at the base to house their dead and the burial chambers, dating from late Iron Age (600 BC) still stand today.
The acropolis itself offers a breath-taking glimpse of what the Etruscan people must have been like, at once civilised and advanced yet proud and fierce, there is much of their traits to be found in the current Italian Tuscan people. But that is not all there is, the heritage is a jewel in the crown of the Maremma, the whole area is rich in natural beauty and cultural significance, but the Gulfo di Baratti is a location that will satisfy the hunger of all tourists no matter what they’re looking for.
On the lower level, the beach curves around bay of shallow blue water that shelters the locals’ pleasure boats. The sand, like muscavado sugar, retreats from the sea to soft grassy beds under a canopy of twisting, knarled Mediterranean pines that offer much-needed shade from the summer sun and are the landscape’s most distinguished feature. The stone pines provide a silhouetted dance against the setting sun as the sea and distant hills turn mauve and the bay is gently wrapped in the cool of evening.
The problem with vacationing in a place like this, is it will open your eyes to how you live the rest of your life all year round. You may very well start to re-examine the way you live and start hatching plans to abandon life in the city.
The place crawls with local Italian tourist during the peak holiday month of August, there are may camping facilities in the region and the Italians gleefully take the opportunity to spend two or three weeks living in the outdoors and they appear as dark and as hardy as their Etruscan forbearers must have been. But if you venture there in May, June, July, September or October, you will have one of Italy’s most important and stunningly beautiful spots all to yourself.
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