Rio Marina, a small typical village of fishermen and miners, located in the eastern part of the Elba island, in 2017 merged with the nearby Rio nell’Elba; on January 1st, 2018, they gave birth to the municipality of Rio. Rio currently has just over three thousand inhabitants, and they double in the summer with the arrival of tourists.
Rio is the oldest village on the island of Elba, its origins date back to the Bronze Age, and it preserves in its name the traces of the resource that has characterised the territory since the earliest times: water. In fact, “Rio” derives from the Latin Rivus, and indicates the presence of numerous springs in the area. In addition to the historic centre, the Municipality of Rio nell’Elba also includes the towns of Bagnaia, Nisporto and Nisportino.
Perched on a hill 180 metres above sea level, the town is characterised by a typical mediaeval urban layout, with narrow alleys and stairways leading to picturesque squares.
Known since the time of the Etruscans for its mineral resources, Rio Marina was the oldest extraction and processing centre on Elba, active until the early 1980s and very important at national, European, and local level for the economy of the island. The proof and evidences of Rio Marina’s mining past are still alive in the collective memory of its inhabitants – mainly ex-miners – and are an integral part of the history of the town, still visible in the colour of the beaches, in the old piers for loading material on ships, in the remains of the old furnaces, warehouses and railways for the trolleys loaded with iron, hematite, pyrite, limonite, elbaite and many other minerals.
It is worth visiting the Elba Museum of Minerals and Mineral Art, located in the Palazzo del Burò, former headquarters of the Mining Offices, in the city centre. The Museum houses an important and rich collection of minerals and stones, in addition to the faithful reproduction of the environments of the mines: construction sites, laboratories, even a life-size gallery, together with original materials and tools. The Museum also preserves the historical archive of the mines, with documents, maps, photos and videos on the old mines of Rio and Capoliveri. It also organises excursions, guided tours, educational meetings within the complex of Rio Marina Mineral Park, and an interesting tour aboard a characteristic little train, which crosses what once were the main construction sites.
Today, the area of Rio Marina has been converted to tourist accommodation activities, becoming one of the favourite destinations for “slow” tourism, for those who choose the tranquillity of a small but particular town, ready to offer the authenticity and simplicity of its flavours, customs and traditions. The beauty of Rio Marina lies in its streets, in the sunset enjoyed from the promenade or from the pier, in the historic places overlooking the sea and the square.