San Vincenzo - Background History

SAN VINCENZO

BACKGROUND HISTORY

San Vincenzo is located on the Ligurian Sea, in the stretch of the coast south of Livorno, called “Etruscan Coast”. It is bounded to the north by the Municipality of Castagneto Carducci and to the south by the coastal park of Rimigliano, and  inland from the coast it extends to the Val di Cornia.
San Vincenzo has been inhabited since ancient times. The first traces of human presence date from the Upper Paleolithic period to today:  a fact that, in all likelihood is due to its location between the Metalliferous Hills and the Cecina and Cornia rivers. The strategic location of this area didn’t escape the notice of the Etruscans, who heavily populated it, because of its proximity with Populonia, known in those times as Lucumonia, and also because of the presence of minerals and a large forest. Between the 9th and 5th centuries B.C, it was the cornerstone of intensive mining activity. Its name first appeared in 1285 with the name of Torre di San Vincenzo, from the name of a coastal tower built by the Pisani, which still exists and now belongs to the municipality.

Later the city, was conquered by the Romans, and they built Via Aurelia and most likely a village and a dock there.
The new lords of Tuscany, the Longobards, built beginning in the year 1000, on an imposing hill, the Biserno Castle (in the vicinity of the current mines of San Carlo) that passed into the hands of the counts of the Della  Gherardesca family. In 1304 the Republic of Pisa destroyed the Castle and built a new coastal Tower, starting the development of the first inhabited center which was composed of fishermen’s and farmer’s houses, complete with customs and a loading dock.

With the overthrow of Pisa, the community in 1406 fell under Florentine rule and became part of the municipality of Campiglia Marittima. But the Pisa’s drives for independence for the glory of the Marine Republic were never appeased and between 1494 and 1509 Pisa rebelled so many times resulting in Florentine troops guarding the area. Therefore, in this spirit of rivalries, one of the most important battles in Tuscan history took place here in the 1500s. On 17 August 1505, at the local coastal Tower, the “Battle of San Vincenzo” between Florence and Pisa took place, that ended with a victory for the Florentine militia.

After this, the fate of San Vincenzo was tied to those of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the Unity of Italy. In 1949 San Vincenzo became an independent town separate from Campiglia Marittima, approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic n. 414 of 3 June 1949. In 1949, Osvaldo Mischi was elected as the first mayor of San Vincenzo; the square in front of the Municipality has been named after him.

Today San Vincenzo is one of the most well outfitted beach tourist centres of mainland Tuscany, which makes it the tourism capital of Val di Cornia and one of the busiest tourist centres on the Etruscan Coast.

The past decades have seen a large boom in the building sector and many new buildings have been constructed.

THE TOWER

The first name in which the word “San Vincenzo” appears is in 1300 with Torre di San Vincenzo, due to the presence of the coastal tower; today it is the location of the Town Council.

The tower was part of an overall coastal fortification and lookouts located in the area, that were developed to be able to protect these places from the attacks by the Saracens. It seems that this tower, in turn, adopted the name from a nearby church dedicated to San Vincenzo. The building of the Coastal Tower, as stated above, was the work of the Republic of Pisa. This building gave the go ahead to the formation of the first inhabited village of fishermen.

In 1304 the Castle of Biserno was partially destroyed, due to the clashes of power within the Pisan families of the Della Gherardesca. In 1406, following the fall of Pisa, the community fell under the rule of Florence and was part of the Municipality of Campiglia Marittima.

At the beginning of 1500, the city of Pisa, already subject to Florence rule, rebelled, hoping to revive the ancient republic. Florence responded by besieging the city of Pisa. Pisa appealed to Siena for help and Bartolomeo d’Alviano, an adventure captain with an army of almost a thousand men from Maremma, hastened to help the city of Pisa.

The Florentines, recognizing the threat, tried  to stop it by organizing an expedition of around 1200 men, led by Ercole Bentivoglio, one of their best condottieri.

The Florentine army of condottiero Bentivoglio was encamped for battle near Campiglia, with the intention to attack in the vicinity of the Tower of San Vincenzo. The aim was not randomly picked since the tower was the only easily defensible point of the entire Florentine lands.

On the morning of the 17 August 1505 at the Tower a very bloody battle took place that ended with the victory of the Florentines and the defeat of Bartolomeo d’Alviano’s troops; forcing him to hide at first in Sassetta and then in Monterotondo, previously a Sienese castle.

The San Vincenzo battle was an important historic event for that period, so much so that the painter Giorgio Vasari painted it in a fresco, forming part a series of paintings depicting the military successes of the Medici family, and it was displayed at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, in the Salone del Cinquecento.

THE PARK OF RIMIGLIANO

The natural coastal park of Rimigliano, established in 1973, is entirely within the territory of the Municipality of San Vincenzo in the region of Livorno and it includes about six kilometers of the Tuscany coast. The park of Rimigliano is part of the Val di Cornia Parks, a company founded in 1993 by the municipalities of Campiglia Marittima, Piombino, San Vincenzo, Sassetta and Suvereto that also manages the following 5 parks: archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia, Mineral Park of San Silvestro, Coastal Park of Sterpaia, Natural Park of Montioni, Forest Park of Poggio Neri.

The first provision establishing the park was carried out in May 1973. Through an agreement between the above-mentioned five municipalities , the Park of Rimigliano was urbanistically intended to be used as a territorial park and it was decided that it would be managed as a protected park. In 1997 the municipality of San Vincenzo approved the inclusion of the park among the ANPIL (Protected natural areas of local interest) under the law n. 49/95 of the Tuscany Region.

For the definitive inclusion among the ANPIL protected areas, the Region is still awaiting some of the fulfilments by the municipality of San Vincenzo.

The environmental constraint of prohibiting any construction, from the beginning of the 70s, and the fact that the territory of the park was almost all-private property (Della Gherardesca), allowed these six kilometers of sandy coast, with its 200 MT of wood to remain intact, in its natural condition.

In spite of the fact that the property was private, the impossibility of fencing the park, because of its particular conformation, has meant that, starting in the late 60s, the public use of the park was peacefully consolidated.

In recent years, the municipality also acquired ownership of almost the entire park, with the only exception the cottage of the Cavalleggeri and some land around it.

The current perimeter of the coastal park goes back to the first years of the 1800s under the French rule. In fact, when Napoleon gave his sister Marianna Bonaparte, known as Elisa, the Principality of Piombino, to allow the princess a worthy destination in her estate, in just two years (1804-1805) the litoranea road from San Vincenzo to Piombino was built, now known as “della Principessa”. The new road clearly separated the coastal part of the Rimigliano estate, entirely wooded, from the inland area partially arable and occupied in part by the large lake of Rimigliano.

The access to the park is completely free from both the “della Principessa” provincial road and by the wide beach that runs alongside the entire six kilometers of the area.

This ease of use and convenience of unsupervised access, on the one hand exposes the park to high volume, especially in the summer, on the other hand it allows full enjoyment for the enthusiasts, especially from October to May.

THE PORT

The tourist port, is situated between the Ligurian sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea (this boundary is traditionally indicated in the north: in fact we sometimes talk of Tyrrhenian Sea and Tyrrhenian coast for the whole Tuscany coast). It is situated close to the Pisan Tower of medieval origins. Furthermore, its location is ideal for those who wish to base themselves on the island of the Tuscan archipelago and Corsica.

On 13 of June 2010, the inauguration of the tourist port was held, designed by the office of Capolei Cavalli in Rome. The ceremony went live nationally on Rai 3; it had as costar the presentation of the “Saluti dal Marinaio” statue, a work in bronze of the artist Giampaolo Talani, located at the end of the new breakwater (800 m walking) of the port, to welcome the vessels coming and to wish a good journey to those departing. On the same day the new two squares were inaugurated, one at the South (Piazza Grandi) and one at the North (piazza Unità d’Italia) of the city centre, both bordering the port and the sea.

THE “SAILOR” OF TALANI

The Sailor is a bronze sculpture standing 7 meters tall that has been overlooking the sea from San Vincenzo harbour since 2010. It is the only sculpture of that stature in a European port. It was made by Giampaolo Talani according to the wishes of the town; it has become a symbol, much loved and visited, of the Val di Cornia and of the desire to look toward the future. This is its little story told by The Sailor himself. 

“The first smell was the sea. It entered my nostrils, subtle and bold, wrapping itself over my first wail and swallowed in my first breath of life; sticking itself solitary and viscous in my mind forever.

This sea is unique in its coastal beauty that follows the water’s edge in broad reach and on the wind, as well as the reefs from Livorno to Grosseto, greeting Elba, and where San Vincenzo stands”.

THE CANTINONE

Thanks to the marriage of Countess Olimpia Alliata (Biserno)and Count Gherardo the whole ancient feud ended with Della Gherardesca regaining possession of the lands. In 1923 Count Gherardo after the draining the Rimigliano swamp, he built “the Cantinone”, a large cellar and granary to service the Tenuta di Biserno.

For decades it would be the last building of the village, towards the south.

WINE AND VAL DI CORNIA CUISINE PRODUCTS

The distinguishing quality of the wine produced here has allowed it to compete on an international level since the 1980’s. The revolutionary techniques spawned from the nearby Bolgheri, saw the planting of new vineyards with varieties such as, cabernet, merlot, and Syrah while leaving space for the traditional sangiovese, all nicely rolled up into a modernized enology. 

The itinerary of the Strada del Vino and dell’Olio takes us towards the south , where the experiments with cabernet take the first steps, and the production of wine goes hand in hand with that of olive oil. Head down towards Suvereto, the pulsing heart of the DOC, with Notri and San Lorenzo being the most esteemed for quality wines, even though much of the territory has become home to new vineyards.

The superlative red wines are a match made in heaven for the local Suvereto cuisine, which tends towards wild boar as its forte and succulent greens, like the violet artichoke or local spinach varieties all grown in the Val di Cornia.

Heading inland we come across the Metalliferous Hills which stretch from Sassetta to Monteverdi, however approaching the sea the visitor finds themselves in the territory of Piombino which has seen a recent revelation of accomplishments in the field of enology. Piombino is also famous for its fresh seafood market, where the visitor can find the famed ‘Atlantic bonito’ among other varieties of fish to be found off the coast between San Vincenzo and Piombino.

THE PROMENADE

The San Vincenzo beaches can be divided into four areas. The Spiaggia della Conchiglia, begins north of the Municipality and extends to the margin of the breakwater of the port.

The Spiaggia del Centro, begins from the breakwater south of the port and reaches the Fosso delle Prigioni. From here La Spiaggia della Principessa starts, and ends at the Fosso di Botro ai Marmi.

Finally, there is Spiaggia di Rimigliano, from Fosso di Botro ai Marmi extends till the south border of the Municipality in La Torraccia.

*Blue flag for water and beaches for ten consecutive years from 2006 to 2015;

*Natural Park of Remigliano’s free beach, recognized each year in the Lega Ambiente’s Blue Guide; sea resorts with excellent services and easily reachable on foot ,because for the most part, it is located along the urban beach.

These are the main features that make up the business card of San Vincenzo’s beaches and sea for those who are looking for a seaside town to spend pleasant holidays in a natural marine environment that is both safe and comfortable.

The San Vincenzo sea, is an open and dark blue sea, in the less deep urban stretch.  On the other hand, in the Parco di Rimigliano beach, the depth of water at the seashore is immediately two meters high .

You can take a swim but you can also find the right depth for sea-diving, boat trips and amateur fishing.

The 11 km of beach are characteristically deep, wide with fine white sand. In the urban stretch the village  and its roads are immediately behind the beach; along the stretch of Rimigliano, to the south of the village, the beach is back to a luxuriant pine forest that constitute the Natural Park of Rimigliano with organised routes and services to enjoy the park (dining tables, showers, two refreshment point, wooden gangway that allows the people with disabilities to have access to the beach).

ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF BARATTI AND POPULONIA

Proceeding to Piombino you reach the Golfo di Baratti, with the village of Populonia overlooking, the only Etruscan town on the the sea.

Here we find the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia, that preserves a great complex of the ancient Etruscan civilization that developed thanks to the minerals and iron manufacturing products from the Island of Elba.

The name of the city derives from Fufluns, name of the Etruscan god of wine. Living on the hill, the Acropolis, the Etruscans buried their dead downstream, developing over the centuries the Necropolis, with interesting examples of tombs from various periods.

A large tower of the 13th century marks the entrance to the town centre with the adjacent Rivellino, a semi-circular military fortification incorporated in the 15th century into the ancient walls.

In the northern part of the city it is possible to visit the Cittadella, a complex where there is the Palazzo degli Appiani, the Lords of the Stato di Piombino that remained independent until the French invasion.

Today inside the palace there is the Archaeological Museum of the territory of Populonia.

VIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II

In modern times, the actual birth of the village can be linked to the first half of the 18th century, following the building of a post office next to the hotel, where very soon there were other houses. In that hotel, at first managed by Antonio Benvenuto and then by his descendants, even had the Grand-duke of Tuscany stay there.

Following this event, the hotel was declared Imperial and Royal, as the visible memorial tablet along Via Vittorio Emanuele II recalls.

The main street has been pedestrianized to become the central hub of recreation and commercial business, as is the case with several tourist villages

THE ROTISSERIE

In 1952 on the hill of the “Acquaviva” borough, Lelo Livi established the “Rotisserie”, an elegant hotel and restaurant similar to a castle, which was very popular amongst eminent politicians and show people.

On its ruins will be built a new tourist accommodation, with a large investment. No longer any barbecues in that which was the Dolce Vita living room in San Vincenzo style.

After a decade of abandonment, the fate of the one of the most well-known buildings of the municipality is certain. It has been known for years as a usual destination of actors, singers, politicians and businessmen, along the Roma-Viareggio to taste the wild game cooked by Lelo Livi, precursor of Fulvio Pierangelini’s Gambero Rosso.