Perched on the slopes of Mount Capannello to 180 meters on the sea level, Rio nell’Elba is one of the oldest villages of the island that inextricably binds her story to the valuable mineral deposits, classified as real geological monuments by UNESCO and included in the “World Provisional List of Geological Heritage Sites.”
Already inhabited in the Bronze Age, bears witness to this in the locality. St. Joseph one of the most important Italian necropolis ever found, whose relics are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in the country.
The fame of this small town lies in its iron mines dating back to the Etruscan period. The Pisans, considering it an economic capital for these reasons, fortified it creating the nucleus of the church of SS Giacomo and Quirico Martyr and structuring all the houses as fortified bastions. Destroyed by the pirate Barbarossa in 1534 and then re-fortified during the reign of the Appiani, remained the mining centre of the island until closure of the mines in 1981.
Another important sign of the domination of Pisa is the Castle of Volterraio ever captured by pirates, built in the eleventh century by Vanni di Gherardo Rau, on pre-existing Etruscan ruins on top of a 380 m cliff overlooking the Gulf of Portoferraio.
In the sixteenth century, the Hermitage of Santa Caterina was built on the slopes of Monte Serra near the ancient town of Grassera, medieval village completely destroyed by pirates in 1500. Hermitage which now houses the interesting “ORTO DEI SEMPLICI”, scientific place of preservation, study and research of plants of the Mediterranean. Very interesting are the old washing, fed by abundant spring waters of the CANALI source . And it was precisely because of this wealth of spring water that many mills were built over time – as many as 22 – who took the name from the current VALLE DEI MULINI.
Rio nell’Elba was not flattened by the advent of tourism and has maintained its charming characteristics of a medieval village.
Market day: Tuesday.