Baratti Gulf and Populonia

A quaint village and a bay lined with dark sand, where history and nature meet. Just a short 20-min drive from our hotel, this area is the perfect destination for a day trip.

Pineta e tramonto

Baratti Gulf

A bay home to a dark-sand beach that sparkles in the sun due to the residue of iron filings, a very important metal during the Etruscan period. Rocks bookend the beach, so snorkelers can have fun too here. Behind the beach is a nature reserve, home to a pine grove and a garden, a great setting for a stroll, an al fresco meal or a nap (cafés and toilets can also be found here). 

This is a free public access beach but there are a couple of beach clubs too (Bagno Baratti and Bagno Altamarea). If you have a dog, in summer, the pier is where you’ll need to go.

 

Caletta Ricchi Baratti and Buca delle Fate  

If you are an avid hiker, but you also enjoy a day at the beach, there are two coves hidden in the wilderness that you will definitely want to explore. 

One is the Ricchi Baratti cove  a pebble beach blends where the waters are deep. You can get there from Baratti’s main parking lot following the directions to the trail through the woods that leads to the Saldarini House (or Dinosaur House) and Vittorio Giorgini’s Hexagon House. The trail continues along the north side of the bay, where beautiful views abound. It is an easy, level walk of about 15-20 minutes that you can also do with a mountain bike. Once you reach your destination there is only one thing left to do, swim!  

 

The second is more famous for its uniqueness and is called Buca delle Fate. It is a rocky cove set in the coast towards Piombino, where the sea is deep blue. It is a magical place as magical is the legend behind it: along the route and along the coast there are many caves where mythological animals and fairies (mermaids for some) were believed to live, making this place very dangerous for fishermen. One day, one of these fishermen named Valerius went into a cave attracted by its wonders but was then captured by the fairies who locked him in a cave. His fiancée wept every day on the rocks praying for her beloved to return, and a dolphin, feeling her pain, picked up one of her tears, made a beautiful pearl out of it and gave it to the fairies in exchange for the fisherman’s freedom. This is just one of the stories told, but whether they are true or not, the cove has a different energy and the views are so spectacular that it is impossible not to dream with your imagination. 

To get here, leave your car at the Reciso parking lot in Populonia. Along the way, you will encounter ancient Etruscan tombs and benches where you can rest. The total route is short, about 20 minutes, very easy on the way out because it is a downhill, more challenging on the way back because it is all uphill. 

Remember to wear comfortable shoes and take along something to eat, but especially water, there are no cafés or shops.

 

Outdoor activities 

For sportsmen or for those who want a bit of adventure in Baratti, you can discover the underwater world and its beauties or venture into nature thanks to the trekking routes that can also be traveled by mountain bike. 

For divers there is Marenea Diving, con escursioni giornaliere lungo costa e una volta a settimana escursione alla scoperta dell’isola d’Elba, con guide subacquee certificate e immersioni per tutti i livelli di esperienza. Se non hai il brevetto ma vuoi provare l’emozione di essere circondato dal mare organizzano il “battesimo del mare”; scenderai a circa 5 mt con l’attrezzatura accompagnato da un istruttore che ti guiderà in ogni fase di questa bellissima esperienza. 

If, on the other hand, you are a mask and fins lover for a bit of snorkelling or if you just fancy a dip in the blue you can hire small boats (no licence required) at the Ormeggio Baratti for the whole or half day. If you want to enjoy the sea without stress, you can choose to take a small boat trip of about an hour along the coast with Marco or Iacopo who will guide the boat.

If you prefer nature, there are trekking routes you can take starting from the Reciso car park in Populonia. In addition to the Buca delle Fate, you can follow the path that runs along the sea to Calamoresca (Piombino). The landscape is beautiful with views of the sea and the islands of the archipelago.

Lunch, apéritif or dinner? 

If you are already at the beach and are in the mood for an apéritif, Bagno Baratti is a great location at sunset. Here you can order a Zenzito, a ginger-based cocktail to cool off on a hot summer evening. If you feel like a seafood dinner but don’t want to go to a restaurant,  try the small octopus stand, open only in summer. If you’re more of a sandwich person, try Il Casotto food truck instead.

For a sea-view dinner there is La Pergola with fresh crudo or Da Canessa with a panoramic terrace at the southern end of the gulf. 

 

The town of Populonia

High on the hill is Populonia, the only Etruscan settlement on the coast. It is a small village full of artisanal shops such as Lune di Lana and Il Pellaio. In the main piazza, the small Church of Santa Croce, which has been totally renovated, preserves a small fragment of an original fresco. From tthe tower, on sunny days, the view is breathtaking: you can see the coast, the island of Elba, Capraia and even Corsica in the distance. Stop by the Populonia public gardens to rest and to enjoy a cold drink. Parking in Populonia (Via S. Giovanni, 1) is metered in summer and free in winter. 

 

Wintertime 

In winter, most shops and businesses are closed, the food trucks and octopus stand are gone and the beach remains unoccupied and silent, wrapped in its magic. A sight that nevertheless, even with gray skies and rough seas, is utterly unique. This is the right time for walks on the beach on your own, with friends, with family or with your dog, you can play on the beach even with a scarf and cap! 

You can exercise in the pine grove and perhaps even meditate, without being disturbed by anyone, lulled by the sound of the waves. 

Time almost seems to stand still, and with each breath, the mind roams free. It can be a time of inner reflection or unbridled fun, whatever you’re in mood for.  

 

How to get here and where to park? 

Baratti is about 14 km from San Vincenzo and is reached by driving along Via Provinciale della Principessa in the direction of Piombino. You will find the sign for Baratti at the traffic circle after the Torraccia. Parking lots are both along the road and in designated areas, and in summer they are all metered. On weekends and in August, the area is very crowded, so it’s best to arrive early in the morning to be sure of finding a spot. 

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