San Piero is a hillside town that stands on granite at the foot of Monte Capanne. At a height of 227 metres above sea level it looks on to Campo nell'Elba and the beautiful gulf of Marina di Campo.
Legend has it that the original part of San Piero rose up from a Roman temple, dedicated to the god Glauco, in the natural viewpoint known as Facciatoja (Belvedere square).
Inside the Pisan fortress in Facciatoja you can see the Romanesque church of San Nicolò, built in an extremely rare architectural style with two apses and two naves that as far as we kow can be found in only another three churches; since the church was dedicated to the Saints Peter and Paul, this name was also given to the town whose name at the time was Sancto Petro de Campo.
The town centre slowly grew, as did the whole area all around it, but this has not changed the square shape it has with its four doors, and you can walk along its lanes and granite stairways and admire the typical Medieval terraces and balconies.
San Piero can be considered a real open air mineral museum, of international importance; the whole area is full of pegmatitic veins with tourmaline (elbaite), beryls and topaz. A special mention must go to Luigi Celleri, the mineralogist from San Piero (1828/1900) to whom the Mineral and Gem Museum in San Piero is dedicated.
Something else San Piero is famous for all over the island are the granite quarries, from where granite was extracted from as far back as the Roman times and has since been a very important element for the locals living on the south western side of the island as well as a significant source of income. The granite from Elba was exported and used in some of the most important buildings in history. To name but some; in the columns in the Pantheon in Rome, or in those in the church of San Michele in Pisa.
There are still many visible traces of this past around San Piero: as well as the actual quarries that are stil in use, you can see what remains of those no longer in use, as well as the "caprili" (granite shelters used by sheherds) in the suggestive valleys of Monte Capanne, that you can get to by following any one of the many paths that start off in the centre of San Piero.
San Piero is also a treasure chest of examples of Christian art: If you take the road for Poggio you will see the biggest and most beautiful Romanesque church on the Island of Elba, that is the [page id="586]Church of San Giovanni[/page], along with the Tower, both proof of the Pisan rule on the Island of Elba.
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