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Modern Populonia
Location of the province of Livorno
Fortress of Populonia (detail)
The necropolis of Populonia

Populonia (Latin: Populonium, Etruscan: Pupluna or Fufluna) is a frazione of the commune of Piombino (Tuscany, Italy). It is especially noteworthy for its Etruscan remains, including one of the main necropolis in Italy, discovered by Isidoro Falchi. It is located at the north end of the peninsular of Monte Massoncello, north of Piombino.

Apart from the Etruscan sites, it has a massive fortress built in the 15th century by the Appiani lord of Piombino, with stones taken from Etruscan remains.

Ancient Populonia

Populonia was an ancient seaport of Etruria, originally connected to Volterra but later turning into a flourishing independent minearary and mariner center. The harbour, however, continued to be of some importance, and the place was still an episcopal see in the 6th century. The city was destroyed in 570 by the Lombards. The few survivors, led by bishop St. Cerbo, fled to Elba.


The place, almost the only Etruscan town built directly on the sea, was situated on a lofty hill now crowned by a conspicuous medieval castle and the modern village.

Considerable remains of its town walls, of large irregular, roughly rectangular blocks (the form is that of the natural splitting of the schistose sandstone), still exist, enclosing a circuit of about 2.5 kilometers. The remains existing within them are entirely Roman-a row of vaulted substructions, a water reservoir and a mosaic with representations of fishes. Strabo mentions the existence here of a lookout tower for the shoals of tuna-fish. There are some tombs outside the town, some of which, ranging from the Villanovan period (9th century BC) to the middle of the 3rd century BC, were explored in 1908. In one, a large circular tomb, were found three sepulchral couches in stone, carved in imitation of wood, and a fine statuette in bronze of Ajax committing suicide. Close by was found a horse collar with fourteen bronze bells.

The remains of a temple, devastated in ancient times (possibly by Dionysius of Syracuse in 384 BC), were also discovered, with fragments of Attic vases of the 5th century BC, which had served as ex volos, in it. Coins of the town have also been found in silver and copper. The iron mines of Elba, and the tin and copper of the mainland, were owned and smelted by the people of Populonia; hot springs too lay some 10 km to the E (Aquae Populaniae) on the high road —Via Aurelia— along the coast. At this point a road branched off to Saena (Siena). According to Virgil the town sent a contingent to the help of Aeneas, and it furnished Scipio the Elder with iron in 205 BC. It offered considerable resistance to Sulla, who took it by siege; and from this dates its decline, which Strabo, who describes it well (v. 2, 6, p. 223), already notes as beginning, while four centuries later Rutilius Claudius Namatianus describes it as in ruins.

See also

Coordinates: 42°59′22″N 10°29′29″E / 42.98944°N 10.49139°E / 42.98944; 10.49139



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