The Tuscan Cavalry

December 6, 2012 / Places
Golfo di Baratti, Tuscany
Recently the ancient Via Dei Cavalleggeri, the long Tuscan coastal road patrolled by Italian cavalry for more than 800 years has been cleared and walkers can enjoy the panoramic views overlooking the island of Elba. Trekking through the woods on the cliff paths that hug the Tyrrhenian sea one can try to imagine what those horsemen of long ago might have experienced in their long lonely nightly vigils.

The Cavallegeri were the border controllers, health officials and finanza tasked with preventing pirates, contrabandist and strangers who might be carrying typhus and cholera from invading the territory. The coast road extended from the beaches of San Vincenzo through what were then the marshes of Rimigliano and on around the promontory of Piombino. In the 11th Century the Papal States granted the republic of Pisa jurisdiction and power in exchange for surveillance to protect the hills rich with minerals. There were pirates even as late as the 1800s.

At the turn of the century the area had a reputation of being isolated and even gloomy. Hard to imagine that now as we gaze down from the wooded path at the blue green sea reflecting the sunlight and surrounded by the subtle perfumes of the woods teeming with wild flowers.

The Val di Cornia Park Service has not only restored the path but also has rewarded the walker with a bench so to enjoy the view overlooking Elba at the Buca delle Fate.

The path begins just opposite the Canessa Restaurant by the port of Baratti (Populonia).

Many thanks to Anna Meli (Micro Mega7, Campiglia Marittima, Tel. 0565 012052) walking companion and friend, for her photographs and to our excellent guide, Bruno Barsotti, mountain climber and local walking guide.

Pat Carney

by Pat Carney

Pat Carney-Ceccarelli (www.campigliaworkshop.com) happily divides her time between Campiglia Marittima and Cambridge, UK.

10 Responses to “The Tuscan Cavalry”

  1. Magnificient, Pat. I’d love to ramble along that path. What views. I trust that the calvary nor other horses use that path anymore! Thanks for uncovering it.

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  2. Hello Pat,
    Such wonderful news! More splendid adventures ahead!!
    Thank you for your loving service to this sacred region.

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  3. bob paglee

    Many thanks for the beautiful photos. There weren’t only “pirates” to be woried about all along the coast — there were also the “Saraceni”. These were raiding parties (Islamic?) from North Africa who invaded to gather loot and white slaves.

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  4. Pat Carney-Ceccarelli

    Thanks Louise,, not horses now but guys (gals??) on mountain bikes! Babbo and Katja, I will find out how long the entire walk is- the piece I did which led to Buche delle fate and on up to Populonia took me 2 and a half hours, but I am quite slow.We left a car at the Baratti Port and another one at top at Populonia thus reducing the walking time. Ok for childen- I took my kids and elderly friends down a similar path for years. there is another splendid path all the way to Piombino. will do some research- find some maps and get back to italian notebook. thanks for the queries !!

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  5. Sorry to post on this comment about this but I haven’t received a note in several months (finally got this one today!) and I can’t get a comment sent on the contact page. It says the address isn’t valid. I’ve been receiving notes since close to the start and I really miss them. I am friends on FB and don’t get them there anymore either :-( Help! Denise

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  6. Oh Pat- looks fantastic !
    Now I really miss the beautiful Baratti and Rimigliano! Yes it is hard to imagine the area being gloomy with those wonderful colours and smells… Soak up those smells before returning to winter at Cambridge Pat!
    Also Katja, I am 15 now, my brother 12 and my sister 5. We have loved the similar paths in the area since we were very young, and so I would say definitely fine for kids:)

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