Campiglia and around

Sitting on top of a hill that dominates the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding countryside, Campiglia Marittima is one of the most beautiful villages of the Costa degli Etruschi, the Etruscan Coast. In this medieval hamlet, rich in history and tradition, the streets and cobbled alleyways as well as the buildings themselves give us a sense of harmony. The historical centre of the village is entirely contained within the ancient stonewalls and upon its characteristic squares there are shops, artisans, museums and trattorias.

Among the principle attractions of Campiglia is the beautiful Palazzo Pretorio, ancient symbol of political and military power that stands above the main square with its robust clock tower and antique bell that chimes the hours of the day. Today this edifice contains the Historical Archive, a Children’s Library, a permanent collection of local artist Carlo Guarnieri and a Mineral Museum. Of particular interest are Campiglia’s churches, the Pieve di San Giovani built in the year 1075, splendid example of Roman-Pisan architercture and the church of San Lorenzo, built in the 12th century, that is found within the walls of the village. Also worth noting is the Teatro Concordi, a small but exquisite theatre that continues its long tradition of hosting cultural events. Lovers of nature will enjoy exploring the 450 hectares of the Archaeological-Mineralogical Park of San Silvestro which is located in the hills not far from the village. Within the park is the fascinating Rocca di San Silvestro, an ancient mining hamlet of the 12th century that was constructed to extract the bronze, lead and silver from the mineral rich hills. The park also has a museum dedicated to the millennia of mining and mineralogical history dating back to the Etruscans. Right next door to the museum one can embark on a guided tour of the Temperino Mine, a visit complete with miner’s helmet, that will take you on an underground exploration walking into the mine through a horizontal tunnel. The area of Campiglia is also known for its thermal spa establishments, all in the nearby town (4km distant) of Venturina Terme. Noted from Roman times, these hot springs are fed by underground veins of hot water. As for animating the historical centre of Campiglia, there is one association in particular whose sole raison d’etre is exactly this, the Pro Loco, also known as l’Ente Valorizzazione Campiglia Marittima. Comprised entirely of volunteers this committee works year ‘round to bring manifestations such as the “SCampigliata.” that is a day of hiking on the trails above the village complete with a six course meal spread over the length of the hike in various stages. Or the “Extemporanea di Pittura” in which dozens of artists of all ages choose an angle of Campiglia where they set up their easels and sit down to paint for the day. At the end of the day their work is judged and a winner is chosen. Then there is the “Sfilata Storica” in July when dozens of local people dress in authentic replicas of medieval costumes and re-enact a local parade. Or “Raccontare Campiglia” which is a collection of stories from villagers written down and made into a book, enriched each year with new pieces and presented to the public. Artistic and cultural initiatives that enrich the village and present good reasons to extend ones stay in Campiglia. Too many to cite here, the calendar of the Pro Loco is consultable at:

The Swifts of Campiglia

Once cannot speak of Campiglia without mentioning its Swifts. The swifts of Campiglia are as tied to the local identity as much as the stonewalls, the colours and scents of the flora, the local food and traditions. Our swifts arrive in early May, initially just a few dozen but then within days the rest show up after their long journey from West Africa. From that moment until late July the skies of the village are filled with swifts, their acrobatic turns and rolls, their strident cries and the sound of thousands of wings that plunge and rise in seeming unison. We love them for the sense of happiness they bring with them and because their arrival signals the beginning of the warmer summer months. If you were to study their of habits you would learn that the swifts born in Campiglia will return here every year of their lives, returning to the same nest. One of the reasons medieval villages are so adapted to their nesting is because the roof tiles and small openings in the stone faces of the houses are perfect for their needs. You would also discover that they couple for life, that they only come to rest when nesting, that the entirety of their year is spent in flight, eating, sleeping and mating is all done in the air. The swifts find suitable nesting areas almost exclusively in buildings, a reason that taking care to not close off these tiny openings in our houses and roofs will determine whether or not their numbers will grow or decline. Here in Campiglia the awareness of the swifts and their fragility has been largely brought to our collective attention thanks to the efforts of one person, Eugenia Parisi, who brought the Pro Loco into the picture and raised the consciousness of the citizenry thanks to a series of public events in their honour as well as a Face Book page: Rondoni Campigliesi/Swifts of Campiglia.

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