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Tuscan Archipelago >> ART and CULTURE
" From the Prehistory to the Romans"
The most important findings from the prehistory are located on Pianosa, but you can only visit the island with guided tours and with a limited number of visitors. But this marvellous island is worth a visit and features the beauty of a breathtaking sea, with a crystal-clear water that is prohibited for boats since 1979 and a wonderful archaeological heritage.
From the Middle Ages to the Medici Family
From the Medici Family to Napoleon
From Napoleon till Today
Underwater archaeology
Remains of human and animal bones, and silica manufactures such as blades, points, fireplace and ceramic fragments have been found in the caves at Punta Secca and Cala Giovanna which testify the presence of man on the island already 18000 years ago. Underground well tombs have been found on the south part of the island. These tombs were probably excavated by the Rinaldonians who lived in the Archipelago during the Copper era. The tombs have returned 2 almost intact human skeletons, stone axes, obsidian and ceramic fragments. The catacombs, which you access from the port of Pianosa, testify the beginning of the Christian civilisation. The thousands of underground passages that wind for more than 200 metres go back to the III-IV century when the first Christians were condemned to hard work in the tufa caves. Today the passages preserve the remains of more than 500 completely abandoned graves. On Capraia, a mule track along the coastline takes you from the village to Monte Arpagna, where you can see a sort of very old nuraghe which look like the ones on Sardinia and probably used as stables. The most important remains of the Etruscan period are the rests of an old oven which was used for the working of the iron in Capo Pero, between Rio Marina and Capo Castello on Elba, while it is almost impossible to count all the marvellous Roman villas of the Patricians in the Archipelago. On Pianosa you can still see the remains of the villa of Marco Giulio Agrippa Postumo, who was confined here by his uncle, the emperor Ottaviano Augusto, who was convinced that his nephew hated the imperial family. The villa of Agrippa was located on the shore and covered more than 3000 square metres, comprehending a theatre, a wet basin and a couple of thermal baths. Today some parts of the villa lie under the water and the facing soundings, Cala San Giovanni, host many remains from the Roman period. There are remains of an old Roman villa, probably built by the Domizi Enobarbi family in Giglio Porto, on the island of Giglio. Some of the rooms had fish-ponds. An itinerary to discover the marvellous remains of the Romans could not exclude Portoferraio, that, though being the town were the impact of Napoleon is evident, preserves what is left of the Villa delle Grotte from the period of Augustus. The refined imperial Roman taste can be noticed from the remains of the building which was built in a panoramic location on the promontory on the south-east part of the gulf of Portoferraio. The rests of the mosaic floor, the painted plasters and the elegant stucco are still visible. The villa had even its own small granite mole where the boats could berth. The remains of the Roman villa of Capo Castello cover three areas nearby. The promontory of Capo Castello, that today features modern buildings, Colle del Lentisco and Capo Mattea. The villa, presumably from the period between the I century B. C and the I century A.C. was built on a terrace which descended towards the water and holds mosaic fragments, a pilaster strip capital and some ceramic fragments. Giannutri has also many remains that testify the Roman civilisation, first of all the Villa of Domizio Enobarbo who built his marvellous residence in front of Cala Maestra. It is the most impressive Roman settlement on the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, a superb building with elegant thermal baths, storehouses, residential rooms and rooms for the servants, water reservoirs, a big panoramic terrace, stuccos and precious decorations, marble, frescoes and mosaics. The location on the top of Cala Maestra embellish this marvellous example of Roman architecture even more and offers a fascinating environment which is definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately there is not much left of the Roman port of Cala Spalmatoio, almost completely covered with cement from the 70's. Only some granite pilasters from Giglio which have been rescued, remain from this old port. If you take walk in the bush in Poggio Rosso and Poggio del Cannone, you are able to see some remains of a small temple dedicated to the hunting goddess Diana who protected the island.

Photos from APT Tuscan Archipelago and Mediaweb srl.
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