This is a short itinerary along the Etruscan Coast in Tuscany, offering a little treat for everyone, adults and kids alike. The Etruscan Coast, as well as the whole Tuscany, is so many different things at once: art, nature, olive oil, wonderful wine, medieval villages. But it is also seaside, culture and history. Whatever you choose to do, however, just take your time.

Seaside Etruscan Coast baratti

This is a place to discover slowly, relaxing in front of amazing views, exploring paths and trails that go through stories and history. Stories of poets, shepherds, farmers, lumberjacks, miners and poachers. And the history of our ancestors, the Etruscans, an incredible population who lived in Italy between the 9th and 3rd century b.c.  This part of the Tuscan Coast is indeed named after them (that is, Etruscan Coast).

parco etrusco populonia tips

Our base

All these emotions started already in the estate where we stayed overnight. We have already talked about Tenuta di Seripa in this post: it is an old countryhouse, carefully restored, hidden among woods and hills, where the air smells of rosemary and the owner really knows how to make you feel at home. It is isolated enough to fully enjoy the quite and relaxed atmosphere of the countryside, yet it is within a short drive from all the beautful wonders of the area. In one word: perfect.

tenuta di seripa stone wall

We arrived tat the tenuta on Friday afternoon. The place was so beautiful and ispiring that we decided to spend the rest of the day there. Doing nothing. Well, not really. We enjoyed the view sipping a cocktail while the sun was going down behind the hills and the children were happly running in the large lawn. Good enough, isn’t it? The weather was lovely, but not warm enough to try the nice pool in front of the house. Maybe you will be luckier than us!  The estate also has a cosy restaurant, which serves typical Tuscan cuisine. Being up on the hill (the closest village is 3 km away), being able to have a bite on site is ideal, especially if you travel with kids. If the food is gorgeous as it was when we stayed there, then you really do not have any reasons to move from the countryhouse!

Our Itinerary

On Saturday morning, we headed off to the Archaelogical Mines Park of San Silvestro, in Campiglia Marittima. The site includes a beautiful museum, two mining tunnels that can be visited (awesome!), a Medieval village (Rocca San Silvestro) where ancient miners used to live one thousands of years ago and several trekking trails.

Val di Cornia, Tuscany, Etruscan Coast

Detail of the production site at San Silvestro Park.

The Archaeology and Minerals Museum, located in the Ticket Office building, houses an exhibition of minerals and rocks fiund in the area displays some exhibits found during the digs of Rocca San Silvestro. From here, we can visit the Temperino Mine: kids will be so excited to wear a real helmet and walk through the tunnel! But the visit is extremaly interesting for adults too.

Val di Cornia Parks. Etruscan Coast. Tuscany

Exploring the tunnel like a real miner.

An expert guide will come with you, explaining how the mining techniques have been evolved in time, and showing you beautiful and  minerals in the rocks.

san silvestro, tuscany, val di cornia parks, etruscan coast

Mineral in the cave

After the Temperino Mine, a short walk uphill will take you to the Earl Shaft. Here big pictures and storyboards shows what life was like in the Mines. A short video (only in italian, I am afraid) will introduce to the next visit, which will take place in the Lanzi-Temperino Tunnel. This time you will be asked to board a little train, which will take you through the  tunnel that connects the Temperino Valley to the production installations of the Lanzi Valley. The tunnel is 1 km long and is very narrow. Nothing to be worried about, but might not be your cup of tea, if you’re claustrophobic…

san silvestro with the train in the tunnel

San Silvestro Park is pretty big, you might well spend the whole day there. We actually left at around 3 pm and on the way back, we made a small detour to spend a couple of hours in an unsual Fan Park. No games here. Just trees and ropes.  Children can become little Tarzans and adults… well, adults too! And it is a lot of fun!

Climbing trees...

Climbing trees…

A wonderful sunshine woke us up on Sunday morning. The perfect weather for a day at the seaside. And this is exactly what we did! After a gorgeous breakfast in the garden, we headed up to Baratti, on the very Etruscan Coast.

Seaside portrait of Baratti Gulf.

Seaside portrait of Baratti Gulf.

The place is fantastic, as it stretches over a vast protected nature area, beneath a roof of centuries-old pines. The beaches are quite narrow, but the sand is soft and of a nice gold colour. In low season, there is no bathhouse and it is not so crowded: you really have the beach for yourself and it is wonderful. We had a few sandwiches sitting on the sand, watching the seagulls playing in the sky and the waves gentle strolling on the seashore…

In the afternoon, we reached the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia, 5 minutes by car from the beachI fell in love with this place. It feels like moments become centuries. Or centuries moments. I don’t really know.

Populonia etruscan park 1

The park is a real open-air museum, showing an industrial Etruscan village. The Park includes a significant part of the ancient town of Populonia, with its necropolises, the calcarenite quarries and the industrial working quarters for iron production.

Tuscany Val di Cornia - Etruscan Coast

The Iron Trail at the Etruscan Park in Populonia

The park is really huge and there are well marked trails which enable the visitor to follow a sort of logic path through the history of this place. Be aware that not all the trails are suitable for strolleys. I would suggest to ask at the ticket office, before starting your visit. Particularly interesting for the kids is the Sperimental Archeology Area (follow the red path). In some period of the year, activities and children workshops are organised. One of the most interesting thing to explore is the recostruction of an Etruscan house.

etruscan hut

Here we are, at the end of our etruscan weekend. This beautiful part of Tuscany is with no doubt fascinating and ever so beautiful. Visiting it means swimming in a clear blue sea, having fun on golden beaches, But it also means walking through history. And savoring the most human aspect of  it. s has happened to us in the archaeological park – mining of San Silvestro, emotional testimony of mining that characterizes this part of Tuscany since Etruscan times. A journey in the mines closed in 1979, and in the hard life of the miners.

Why we liked the Etruscan Coast

It offers activities that can satisfy the whole family. The Val di Cornia Parks represent a wonderful destination, fascinating for adults and extremaly interesting for kids, as they can learn a lot about history and science, having lots of fun.

Good to know

  • How to get there: the closest international airport is Pisa. To move around, it is necessary to hire a car (possibly with a SatNav).
  • Where to park: both the parks and the Baratti seaside have plenty of parking. Parking at Baratti seaside is it is quite expensive (1,80 euro per hour), while in the parks it is free of charge.
  • Facilties: you can find eating facilities everywhere. Both at San Silvestro and at Populonia Parks, there is a bar/restaurant at the entrance. At the seadide, just near “Bagno Baratti” (Baratti Bath), there is a swimmers’ assistance point and a refreshment stand.
  • What else to see around: up on the hills, there are small amazing villages, such as Castagneto Carducci, Suvereto, Sassetta, Bolgheri. Hidden gems among the green woods, that are well worthwhile a vist. Maybe you can plan to go there for dinner, enjoying the breathtaking sunset over the tuscan countryside while sipping a good glass of wine sitting al fresco. Also, depending on the time you have available, you can include a visit to one of the many cantine (wine producers)  around, a walk in the chestnut woods or an afternoon learning all about olive oil. 
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