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Tuscan Archipelago >> ART and CULTURE
 
" From the Middle Ages to the Medici Family "
The period that goes from the beginning of the Christian era to the arrival of the Medici family on the Tuscan islands has left several churches, many of them Romanesque, which stand out in the landscape of the Archipelago and embellish the squares and the old parts of many villages. The church of Santo Stefano alle Trane in Portoferraio, close to Magazzini, is worth a visit.
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A nave that goes back to the XII century and preserves impressive marble basrelieves that decorate the beams, the windows and the lateral entrance. Rio nell'Elba is probably the municipality with most churches. From the square you can access the church dei Santi Giacomo e Quirico, inside the boundary walls of the village and protected by the great bastions which were built to defend the village from the attacks of the pirates. At 2 km from Rio, after the old mineral area, you get to the ruins of the Romanesque church of Grassera. It was built by the Pisans in the XI century and demolished by the Turks in 1534. From Ottone, driving along a short earth road, you get to the Fortress, located on the peak of Volterraio. Unfortunately it has been abandoned. The building from XII century though some parts are from the 17th century, preserves the well, the chapel, the defensive parts, the merlons and the underground passages. Just about hundred metres from Capoliveri we find the remains of the church of San Michele, in Pisan Romanesque style built in the XII century. The church has a nave built in rosy limestone and was destroyed by the Saracens in the 15th century. Today the front part of the church is heavily damaged, which was used as a graveyard and then completely abandoned. The church of San Mamiliano is located on the outskirts of Campo nell'Elba, along the road that leads to Procchio. The building is from the X century, but the restoration from the last years has completely destroyed its charm. The arm of San Mamiliano, a saint who died in 460 on Montecristo, is preserved here. Along the road that goes from Sant'Ilario to Monte Perone, with a panoramic location, rises the old Pisan tower from which you can see the Piombino channel and the Fortress of Volterraio. Not far away we find the ruins of the Romanesque church of San Giovanni, without the roof but incredibly charming due to the panoramic location. The remains of the hermitage of san Francesco is not far away which is fascinating for the wild vegetation that surrounds the building. In Marciana the Pisan Fortress represents the past. It goes back to the XII century and only the ruins of the building remain today. It is a rectangular building with four towers which gave shelter to the inhabitants when the invaders threatened the village. You get to the church of San Lorenzo by driving along a path which branches off from the old road to Marciana Marina. The church was built in 1100 and only preserves the apse and the external walls which are covered by the surrounding vegetation. The bush is also covering the Hermitage of San Cerbone which is situated along the road from Poggio to Marciana. The hermitage lies close to the cave in which the Bishop of Populonia hid in 573, while the small Franciscan cloister was built in 1421. The Pisan Tower of Marciana Marina was built during the XII century to protect the port from Saracen's incursions. Today it is private property. The Romanesque period is represented by the Assunta church on Capraia, built between 1000 and 1100 with the remains of some Roman settlements. Today the church is isolated and abandoned. During the Fest of the Assumption the procession with the Madonna statue starts here. The building as it looks like today goes back to the 18th century when the fishermen fortified it to prevent the incursions of the Saracens. The majestic Fortress of san Giorgio was built for the same reason. Unfortunately it is closed for visitors. The main building goes back to the XII century and was built by the Pisans, while the Marine Republic of Genoa fortified it in 1500, in particular the Banco of San Giorgio. The church of Santo Stefano Protomartire completes the Romanesque architecture on Capraia. It was built in 800 A.C., by the first hermits. The church was dedicated to the young Christian martyr. The Pisans rebuilt it around 1000 after the Saracens' incursions and still today you are able to see the "palmenti" the rocks that the inhabitants dug for the grape harvest. On Montecristo, close to Cala Maestra, a mule-track starts which in about one hour takes you to the Convent dedicated to San Mamiliano. The convent was built by the Benedictine monks during the Middle Ages and was abandoned in 1500 after the devastation effected by Dragut's pirates. The courtyard is totally abandoned, but the main part of the Convent have been attacked by people searching for treasures and the Germans during the last World War. Do not miss the view from the Old Tower on Gorgona. The Pisans built the tower between 1200 and 1300 on a rock spur on the peak of Costa dei Cantoni.

Photos from APT Tuscan Archipelago and Mediaweb srl.
Villaggio Innamorata Isola d'Elba
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