Parco archeologico di Baratti e Populonia

The towers overlooking the sea, the centuries-old guardians of the coast

Lookout posts built centuries ago to protect the Etruscan Coast from pirates and enemies today offer unforgettable views of the sea.


Between the sea and the Mediterranean maquis, the Etruscan Coast preserves traces left by ancient peoples who built roads, fortresses and imposing walls to protect themselves from their enemies. From north to south, along its entire length, this stretch of coastline of Tuscany is punctuated by towers that stand out from the sea and dominate the landscape.

Travelling along the Etruscan Coast in the municipality of Piombino, one of the southernmost outposts of the Val di Cornia, you come across the imposing Torre Mozza, which rises from its foundations in the waters of the Gulf of Follonica to guard the golden beach. With an uninterrupted view of the surrounding seascape, Torre Mozza has protected its territory from pirate raids for centuries and, as night falls, offers unforgettable views as the colours of the setting sun reflect in the sea. Not far from the tower and the shore, the remains of a Roman road reveal the ancient origins of the settlement.

Piombino torre

The town of Piombino itself is a centuries-old sentinel and the spectacular terrace of Piazza Bovio, built on top of the city walls perched on the promontory, offers wonderful views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The neo-medieval lighthouse reflects the defensive purpose of the walls and the imposing Medici fortress and castle, which today houses the Castle and City Museum. This stretch of the Val di Cornia coastline was the start the Via dei Cavalleggeri, along which sentinels moved from fortress to fortress, guarding the entire Etruscan Coast from Piombino to Livorno. Today the Via dei Cavalleggeri is a footpath around the promontory of Piombino, from Cala Moresca to Populonia, and is ideal for discovering local history and beautiful scenery.

To enjoy a 360° view of the sea and the luxuriant landscape of the Val di Cornia, the destination to choose is Populonia. The tower and castle of Populonia stand on the site of the acropolis, the only bastion the Etruscans established on the coast. From here, the views embrace the expanse of the sea of the Gulf of Baratti, the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and even Corsica. Populonia is also the starting point for fascinating history and nature itineraries, such as those that wind through the mounds of the ancient necropolis or in the landscape, among ancient remains and avenues dating back to the time of the Etruscans, of the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia.

Parco archeologico di Baratti e Populonia

Another tower guards the famous white beaches of Vada, further north in the municipality of Rosignano Marittimo. The Tower of Vada once guarded against Saracen attacks and also warned sailors about the shoals, a role that has now passed to a lighthouse, which stands on a small platform of rocks off the coast. Within easy reach by boat, this is the perfect destination for a romantic day out in the crystal clear blue waters.

The Tower of Vada was built at the end of the thirteenth century by the Republic of Pisa and later incorporated into the Medici coastal defences, an avant-garde system of fortifications strategically placed to permit sighting of the next tower, which, in this case, is the Medici Tower of Castiglioncello.

Each era in history has left its mark on the Etruscan Coast and can be explored by following the line of fortifications, visiting the characteristic medieval villages, or discovering the scents and aromas to be found this part of Tuscany, perhaps while enjoying an aperitif or dinner with a wonderful view of the sea.

To find out more:

Museum of the Val di Cornia Parks

Archaeological Experiences