Rio Marina: the iron capital

Area19 square kilometres
Height10 metres a.s.l.
Dialling code0565

The mines and the port in Rio Marina were used for extracting and transporting the iron mineral that, even today, with its sparkling reddish colour is typical of more or less the whole town; it is everywhere, on the walls of the houses, on the beaches, and even on the sea bed.

The hexagonal tower on the port and the San Rocco Sanctuary built in 1570 are particularly interesting from a historical point of view. The "Erisia Gennai Tonietti" Mineral Museum[/page], with over 700 rare minerals, is also worth a visit.

After the last mine was closed, the town's economy turned to tourism, and this has made Rio Marina a flourishing beach resort. All the old mines are on the eastern side of Elba, around Rio Marina and Capoliveri. Going from North to South you come across the Rio Albano mine that runs along the coastline from Cala del Telegrafo and Rio Albano to all of Monte Calendozio.

Here the minerals - mostly hematite and limonite - were extracted and worked on site as far back as the Etruscan and Roman times. Near the last houses in the town there is the Rio Marina mine, where much hematite and pyrite was found, that goes as far as Monte Giove.

The Ortano mine is at the foot of Monte Fico, north of the beach of Ortano. Here the pyrite was used for making sulphuric acid. Hedembergite and ilvaite crystals of an outstanding size have been found in this mine.

To the north east of Port Azzurro, as the crow flies, about a kilometre from eachother, there are the two mines of Terra Nera and Capo Bianco. Due to the long years of extracting pyrite, hematite and magnetite from the Terra Nera mine, this mine has now become a fresh water lake near the sea.

Limonite was extracted from the Capo Bianco mine, so called because of the colour of its rocks. In the Monte Calamita promontory, on the most southern part, we have the two mines of Punta Calamita and Punta Bianca, from where mostly magnetite was extracted. Today these mines, after the last one closed in 1981.

The main places in the Commune of Rio Marina are: Capo d'Arco, Ortano and Cavo. Cavo is a hamlet of Rio Marina, and is on the most northern part of the island, at the foot of Monte Grosso.


Cavo is a fully equipped beach resort, and the nearest place to the mainland.

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Where to stay near Rio Marina

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