|Those to see||Church yard of San Lorenzo, Church yard of San Giovanni, Church of San Nicolò, Church of the Madonna della Neve, Church yard of San Michele, Church of Santo Stefano alle Trane|
|Suggested routes||Marciana Marina, Poggio, Tower of San Giovanni, San Piero, Lacona beach, Capoliveri|
There are many more Romanesque churches that date back to the Pisan period than the traces we can still see today and that can still be visited because some have practically disappeared while others have undergone transformations to an extent that they practically no longer exist or, at least, have very few traces of the Romanesque period. A good example is the church of San Quirico in Grassera, an old town in Rio that disappeared thanks to the pirate raids, or the nearby church of San Felice in San Felo, that was completely destroyed. To the west we can still remember the church of San Frediano, between Pomonte and Marciana, at a height of approximately 700 metres, or even the church of San Bartolomeo, with its brick walls that look down on the towns of Chiessi and Pomonte.
These church yards were usually built in places that had a special meaning. They were a reference point for the locals because they were the church that they belonged to, called Plebs in Latin, so this meant they could hold Christenings there or bury their dead. For this reason the church yards were always built in crucial points both from a setting up as well as a communication point of view and this ensured that many locals were catered for.
This explains why the churchyard of San Giovanni was between San Piero and Sant'Ilario, along the road leading to the area around Capanne, and that enabled you to go across the western side of the island even from several directions: towards Pomonte or Marciana. The church yard of San Michele marked the ancient, connecting path between Capoliveri and the landing moors of Mola and Longone, while that of San Lorenzo was used by the locals who lived in Marciana or Poggio.
If you do this intinerary by car, approximately 80 km long in length, you will be able to visit all the major Romanesque church yards in Elba, and it goes right across the centre of the island and touches some of the most characteristic towns where in several areas, above all those along the northern coastline, the view is unbelievable. If, on the other hand, you go southwards, the view is even more breathtaking.
The itinerary starts in Portoferraio, and, following the main road through the towns of Procchio and Marciana Marina, you have a constant magnificent view of the sea to your right; as you go past dense woods of pine trees, holm oaks and chestnut trees you will get to the first Romanesque church yard: the ancient church of San Lorenzo.
Keep going along the main road until you get to the junction then turn left in the direction of the tiny town of Poggio with its typical alleys and narrow streets built in granite. The road then continues with trees on either side until the junction for Monte Perone. Here you go upwards until you reach the picnic area, then at this point you start to go downhill towards the southern coast of the Island of Elba.
Approximately 3,5 km farther along after the picnic area in Perone you will see the church yard of San Giovanni. Keep going downwards towards the foot of the valley and you will notice the trees give way to the Mediterranean bush, and here you can admire the breathtaking panorama of the coastline below and that of the gulf of Marina di Campo.
Take the next turning to the right and you will get to the tiny hamlet of San Piero, famous for its granite quarries.
Inside the Pisan fortress on Facciatoja you will see the Romanesque church of San Nicolò built in a unique architectural style with two apses and two naves that as far as we know very few other churches have.
Once you have left San Piero your next stop is Marina di Campo with its very long golden sands beach. At this point take the road for Portoferraio, and once you get to the roundabout take the road for Lacona along the road for the Monument.
Once in Lacona, along the road called Via dei Vigneti turn left along Via di Santa Maria, and this will get you to the little hill where the church of the Madonna delle Neve is to be found.
The next stop in your itinerary is just outside the town itself though still in the municpality of Capoliveri. Leave Lacona and follow the coast road that grants you a fantastic view of the promontory of Capo di Stella with its beaches and cliffs below as far as the Calamita peninsula and the tiny Gemini islands.
Keep going towards Capoliveri and you will see the church of San Michele about 6 km after the last junction; you will need to be careful if you want to find the grit road that leads to the church yard because there are no signposts.
Now go back along the road you came and follow the main road in the direction of Portoferraio. Head for Magazzini / Bagnaia, but shortly before you get to Magazzini take the road to your right surrounded by cultivated land and vineyards that suddenly starts climbing and you will see trees and olive groves everywhere; this will take you to the small church of Santo Srefano alle Trane. Turn back at this point as far as the Magazzini / Bagnaia junction and you will end up in Portoferraio again.
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