A remarkable architectural abundance testifies the history of Piombino, which today is in the province of Livorno with about 33,000 inhabitants. The Torrione-Rivellino, an ancient door built in 1212, the XVI-century Pisan Castle, the Palazzo Comunale dating to 1435, the XIV-century Casa-Torre delle Bifore and the Fonte di Marina in Romanesque style can be visited in the town.
Piombino is set on a promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and it was a particularly important centre from a strategic point of view since the beginning of its medieval settlement. It was not by chance if in 1162 the republic of Pisa could exercise its protectorate on the village. The latter was a free town and was at the centre of the trade of ferrous minerals coming from the Elba isle, of salt coming from Elba’s coasts and of food produced in Maremma.
Once it became one of the most important landing places in the Pisan coastline, Piombino increased its turnover to the extent that the decadence of Pisa did not affect it. Piombino transformed itself into an autonomous principality after the ancient sea-faring republic had been annexed to the Tuscan Grand Duchy. In 1399, the Principality of Piombino, governed by Gherardo Appiani, was born and it was a small state independent from Florence in many aspects for four centuries.
The seigniory of the Appiani ordered the construction of the main architectures in the town such as the Rivellino that was born in 1447, when the unsuccessful siege to the city by Alfonso d’Aragona’s troops from Naples took place. It seems that even some urban planning projects were committed to Leonardo da Vinci, an outstanding figure in the Renaissance culture of Tuscany. In effect, more and more efforts were require to defend the town because it was constantly menaced by foreign powers that considered Piombino as a rich territory and a safe call for their ships.
The Ludovisi substituted the seigniory of the Appiani. The main problem of the Ludovisi was the recovery of marshy lands in the plain of Piombino since the XVIII century, mainly. Reclamation works were not carried out only in a small part of the territory, the marsh of the Orti-Bottagone that today is a WWF protected oasis. The dynasty of the Ludovisi, that later became Boncompagni -Ludovisi, left their place to the Napoleonic occupation in the first years of the XIX century.
Napoleon’s conquest of Tuscany created a new seigniory that the emperor’s sister, Elisa Bonaparte called the “Baciocca” because she was married to Felice Baciocchi, belonged to. She became the new ruler and inaugurated a “belle époque” in Piombino, thanks to which the town earned itself the name of “small Paris”. With Napoleon’s fall, Piombino and its territories were given to the Tuscan Grand Duchy after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The economic structure of Piombino started to transform from a commercial area to the centre of the emergent iron and steel industry.