Once upon a time…. There was an elderly figure, but it wasn’t a man nor was it a traveller. Quite the contrary, it held firm on its strong roots: it was the albero di Cecchino – a centuries-old elm tree – which, at the foot of the Fortress walls, was a witness and narrator of the history of Campiglia Marittima and its territory. Etruscans, Romans, saints, artists, peasants and miners…. We begin among its leafy children surrounding the monumental trunk as we look up at the Fortress, then we walk to the top, where we can view the sea.
Oh yea, we’re quick to call this a sea: from here, we can see the outlines of gulfs, promontories and islands. The landscape paints the watery mirror between Argentario and Baratti, where the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago “float,” with Elba, which you can practically reach out and touch, and the turquoise island of Corsica, which, mysterious and far away, sometimes appears to remind us of the blues that colour the Campiglia territory, from the depths of the earth to the sky that rotates between hues of turquoise, pink, red and purple along its endless horizons.
We can breathe deeply at the boundary between water and sky. Behind us extend the hills of the Archaeological Mines Park of San Silvestro, with its village, tunnels, fields dotted with orchids, - which, they say, sprung from drops of the blood of Ubertenga (daughter of the potter Admut), killed by Saracen pirates - and wild irises that sprout from the stones where the Etruscans dug mines and forged metals.
There are many tunnels worth exploring here. Each one is a discovery into the myriad of colours that can be found not just in the rainbow, but also in the bowels of the earth: silvery hedenbergite, golden copper, white crystals of calcite and the incredible blue of chrysocolla – practically a piece of the sky trapped underground!
It’s time to return to the surface to observe the blue sky. We descend from this enchanted fortress - we’ll come back at sunset - to see the sun dive into the sea, tinting the horizon red and the outlines of the islands blue.
The smell of the Campiglia bread floats in the air, a mix of lard, sugar and pine nuts: we’re reminded of both the appetite of the miners and the dinner tables of noble families, while we stop to count the coats of arms on the Palazzo Pretorio and a bit of mystery captures our attention as we look for the magical “Sator” Square on the walls of the Church of San Giovanni.
The voice of the “Cecchino tree” calls to us,
turns us, pushes us towards Venturina Terme,
where its healing waters spring hot from the
depths of the earth. It has rained a lot this year and the waters will
be even hotter, clear yet coloured by the reflections of this territory, where
it isn’t rare to see extraordinary
paintings that young artists have created in their desire to leave
behind a trace of art and beauty.
“I will see you soon!” the voice says to us, "Because I know that whether you are a wanderer, a pilgrim, an artist, a story-teller or an enamoured dreamer, you will find a reason to stay or return.”