PIAZZA GIOVANNI BOVIO
Set in the historical center of Piombino, Piazza G. Bovio offers a wonderful view on the Tuscan Archipelago. During bright days the islands of Elba, Montecristo, Giglio, Capraia, Corsica and even the outline of Mount Argentario are visible.
Palazzo Appiani is located just at the entrance of Piazza Bovio; it was bought in 1399 by Gherardo Appiani, who transformed it in a luxurious dwelling place. He wanted a courtyard on the back of the building, facing the Marina, and a small church inside, dedicated to Saint Rocco and Saint Sebastiano. Palazzo Appiani was the residence of the Appiani residence in Piombino until the year 1465 when Jacopo III moved on the highest hill in town. Afther the Ludovisi became Principi of Piombino the palazzo Appiani served various purposes: it was used as warehouse, guest quartesr, barracks, prison and school. Nowadays it houses offices and the Istituto di Biologia Marina (Centre of Marine Biology).
TORRIONE E RIVELLINO
The ancient Porta a Terra (gate) of Piombino, also known as Sant'Antonio's, is the most ancient monument in town. It was built in 1212 and it is the only remain of the age of the city states in Piombino. In the year 1447 Rinaldo Orsini, husband of Caterina Appiani, added the “Rivellino” to the gate. The “Rivellino”, a massive semicircular support to the fortified walls, had a great importance in protecting the city from artillery. The slits through which the chains of the drawbridge runned are still visible in the walls. Inside the structure, also known as Porta Inferi (gate to hell) a small plaque mentions the authorities in office at the time; the side of the building facing the “corso” is decorated with the symbol of the Appiani, a winged dragon. Thanks to the “Rivellino” Piombino defeated the army of Alfonso I of Aragon, King of Naples, during the siege of 1448 and in the year 1555 it was of great importance in resisting the turkish siege.
The Palazzo del Comune as we see it now is the result of the restoration performed in the XX century on the ancient “Palazzo dei Priori”, built by Nanni di Maggio. Before becoming City Hall this imposive, beautiful building housed courthouse and prison. Inside the Palazzo Comunale There are some interesting works of art, such as the xv century Madonna del Latte. The adjoining battlemented bell tower was build in the XVI ; its a work by Bellini in Siena neo-gothic style.
CASTELLO E FORTEZZA MEDICEA
The history of Castello mirrors that of the town itself; indeed its present appearance is the result of several building stages which occurred from XII and XIX century. It is a Medicean fortress, built around the 1235 “Cassero Pisano”, once eastern gate to the town. The Castello served as prison from the unification of Italy until 1960.
The Castello recently underwent a restoration, which was completed in 2001. Such restoration clearly shows all the building stratifications that occurred through the centuries.
Inside, in the Castello and city Museum , its history is set out by means of a learning path. The first floor hosts an exhibition of archeological finds, both in ceramic and metal (from XIV to XVI century) which were discovered by means of excavation while restoration was performed.
The second floor hosts the Centro di Documentazione sulla Resistenza in Val di Cornia in XX century (Resistence in Val di Cornia in XX century Documentation Center). Indeed, in 2000 the city of Piombino was awarded the Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Militare(Gold Campaign Medal) in consequence of the leading role played against nazists in the battle of 10th of september 1943.
CANALI DI MARINA
The Fonte delle Serpi in Amore is located near the Porticciolo of Marina; the water flowing from it comes from a stratum inside Mount Massoncello. Its peculiar name (litterally it means spring of snakes in love) is due to the high relief placed above the spring, which depicts two tangled water snakes. Probably the fountain was built by maestro Dorgodorio with the help of a labourer, Cambio; as a matter of fact their names are mentioned in a plaque.
The fountain is richly decorated with coats of arms, inscriptions and a “formella” ( marble tyle) depicting the Nativity carved byAndrea Guardi. The most remarkable features of the Fonte are the mouths from which water pours out: three dragon heads, (in ancient documentation wolves, lions, masks, mastiffs are mentioned)and a horse head. Sadly, the fifth mouth was destroyed in the XIX century whenis was hit by a cooper's cart. Researchers worked a lot on these mouths; probably they were carved by a young Nicola Pisano. The mouths we can see now at the Fonte delle Serpi in Amore are copies; the original ones have been restored and are now in the Museum of Cittadella.
CASA DELLE BIFORE
The Casa delle Bifore is the only medieval building of this kind left in Piombino: the fourteent-century-“casa-torre” (tower house) . It is the most ancient building in town, built in architectural “stile pisano”, three- storey, it has eight travertine bifora (double lancet) windows. According to researchers, this kind of building was common in Piombino. The Casa delle Bifore is near the Town Hall. It has been home of the Historical Archives of the Acient State and City of Piombino since the year 1900.
LA MARINA E IL PORTICCIOLO
The ancient Marina served as port of the city until the 1930's. Since ship navigation was consistent in the portion of sea between Piombino and the island of Elba, the ancient Marina played a most important role as terminal of most of the routes. The location of the Marina is due probably to the presence of a freshwater spring, which could supply not only the inhabitants of Piombino but the boats which docked there as well. Nowadays Piombino has a modern bigger port, more suited to the needs of the city. But local fishermen still meet at the Porticciolo, and the breathtaking view it offers on the island of Elba make the Marina one of the most suggestive panoramic viewpoints of Piombino.
CONCATTEDRALE DI SANT'ANTIMO E MUSEO DIOCESANO DI ARTE SACRA
The austere, imposing Co-Cathedral of S. Antimo Martyr overlooks the piazza named after Don Ivo Micheletti. Built in Late Romanesque style, this sober church, beautiful in its simplicity, is decorated with remarkable gothic details. The Co-Cathedral was built by the Maestri Comacini (Comacine Masters, builders from Lombardia) in 1374 according to the desires of Pietro Gambacorti, Signore of Pisa. The Co-Cathedral is so rich in art and remarkable features that it can be considered a museum; its brick facade is enriched by a portal and a Vatican school mosaic lunette, depicting Saint Michael Archangel.
The church houses some excellent works by Andrea Guardi, such as a marble Baptismal font and the sepulchres of the Appiani family, Signori of Piombino. Beside the church there is another remarkable work of Andrea Guardi: the Renaissance cloister, with a marble arcade. The entrance of the Museum is inside the cloister of the Co-Cathedral of S.Antimo Martyr, which is an important feature of the Museum itself. It was built in 1470 by A.Guardi and it features 20 marble pillars surmounted by capitals decorated with the Appiani coat of arms. The cloister is a remarkable sample of renaissance architecture.
The Museum houses a small collection of stone objects, marble fragments coming the church of S.Antimo and the town area, paintings and objects coming from the most ancient places of worship of the territory and many works by Guardi. A large room showcases paraments and vestments, including the Reliquiary of S.Cerbone patron of the diocese of Massa Marittima-Piombino. In addition the Museum houses a marble statue by Ciolo and Marco da Siena , depicting the Madonna with Child.
MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO DEL TERRITORIO DI POPULONIA
The Museum is an integral part of the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia project, and is the main show-case for the network of Parks of the Val di Cornia. With the aid of attractive reconstructions of ancient landscapes, activities and settings, it explains the changes brought about by man's presence on the promontory from prehistory to present times.
The Museum is housed in the Palazzo Nuovo in the historic centre of Piombino. The Palazzo was built in the early 19th century for the ruling couple Felice and Elisa Bonaparte (Napoleon's sister), within the fortified "Cittadella" which Leonardo da Vinci had been involved in designing. It laid out over 1800sq.m. on three floors.
The museum exhibits more than 3000 artefacts including prehistoric tools, finds excavated in Populonia's Etruscan cemeteries, and Roman objects.
Outstanding among these latter is the silver amphora found in 1968 in the sea between Baratti and San Vincenzo, a masterpiece of great intrinsic and artistic value.
The scientific exhibition project, handled by the Department of Archaeology of the University of Siena, has focused much attention on the teaching and communication aspects of the scientific data.
The visitor follows a route tracing historical development interpreted on the basis of the relationship between man, territory and resources, among which the theme of iron production, past and present, assumes a particularly important role.
MUSEO DEL CASTELLO E DELLE CERAMICHE MEDIEVALI
The frame of the Castello itself is a museum; infact, it shows clearly all the building stages that occurred through the centuries. On top of the Castello an observation platform allows a breathtaking view over the Tuscan Archipelago. In the rooms inside, visitors will find archeological finds on exhibit, together with explicatory boards displaying graphic reconstruction. During the visit it is possible to see a short film about the history of Piombino. The Castello is also a suitable venue for cultural events. The Museum offers , by appointment, guided tours and experimental archeology labs.
The restoration of the ancient Fortress has returned one of Piombino’s oldest buildings to its original splendour. The castle with its eight hundred years of history tells its own story; in a coherent architectonic whole it is possible to discern the many successive building phases carried out down the centuries around the original nucleus of the square-based second century tower. This was the city’s ancient Eastern gate that today’s visitors can admire in its arresting grandeur. The restoration work has been accompanied by archaeological investigations, carried out by the University of Siena, which have thrown light on events in Piombino even before the 12th century and have led to the creation of a museum aimed at reconstructing and linking the history of Piombino to that of the castle from medieval times to the present day.
The church of the Immaculate is located in Via San Francesco in Piombino , near the Citadel and then the old town ( bastions northwest) . It is dedicated not only to the Madonna , St. Francis and St. Cerbone , headquarters of the Franciscan friars . It is a large building of 1899 , in the style of which can be traced clear strong elements of Gothic mold.
Divided into three naves with quadrangular apse is annexed a large convent and a cloister monumental . Inside are six paintings by Pietro Saltini.
The monastery is a large complex built in the rear and the church split into two parts, each with its own entrance . In one there are the Franciscan friars , nuns in the other.
CHIESA DELLA MISERICORDIA
The Chiesa della Misericordia is served by the Confraternita di Misericordia. Although we now see it in the form it took in the XVI century, its frame dates back to the XIII century. Consecreted to Saint John the Baptist, this church is one of the most ancient in town. Built in gothic architectural style, it has a nave , vaulted apse and wooden trusses. Only the lower part, built in limestone, is left of the originary frame. Inside the church there is a fifteenth-century wooden crucifix.
La Cittadella was build on the hill of Santa Maria by Andrea Guardi during the second half of the XV century. This compound was intended as a dwelling place for Jacopo III D' Appiano and actually it was a fortified bailey, protected by a ditch. The mansion, which faced the sea from one side, overlooked an internal square on the other, which had an ornated cistern in the middle. Around the mansion there were houses for the courtiers, accomodations for guards and soldiers, stables and a small church. La Cittadella was house of the Principi of Piombino until the nineteenth century, when it was abandoned after the end of the Napoleonic era. During the XX century the Cittadella compound served various purposes, until it was restored to house the Museo Archeologico del Territorio di Populonia ( Archeological Museum of the Territory of Populonia). In 1959 the Palazzo dei Principi was pulled down; nevertheless, some remarkable features of the ancient compound are still visible:
La Cisterna (the Cistern). A work by Andrea Guardi, la Cisterna is build in marble in fifteenth-century style. It is ornated with high reliefs portraying JacopoIII, his wife and his son.
La Cappella di Sant'Anna (the Chapel of Sant'Anna). This extraordinary work by Guardi was built in Renaissance style, with International gothic decorations. Inside there are sculptures By Guardi itself and a Madonna with Child in polychromatic “terracotta” by Benedetto Buglioni.
Very little remains of the ancient walls that protected Piombino for eight hundred years. According to researches, those were impressive walls: two metres thick and more than ten metres tall. The most important part of Leonardo's walls is in via Leonardo da Vinci, on the right of the Torrione of the Porta a Terra, once gate to the city. They were built from XIV century to protect Piombino both from pirates in the Mediterrenean Sea and from danger coming from the inlands. On the Colle of Santa Maria, around the ancient Cittatella degli Appiani the walls are still well preserved. It is thought that Leonardo designed the walls during his visit to Piombino at the beginning of the XVI century.
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