The town of Rio Marina, part of the municipality of Rio, is located on the eastern side of the island, nestled gently in a small inlet surrounded by hills. The dirt is red due to a high concentration of iron oxide, which is testimony to the rich mining past of the area.
In this area of the Island of Elba, people have been mining for iron since the times of the ancient Etruscans. Along with working for the navy, mining was the top profession of the inhabitants of Rio until just a few decades ago. Currently, the rich and interesting history of mining in Rio has become an important tourist attraction. In fact, the coast that stretches from Rio Marina to Cavo is called the "Shining coast,” or “Costa che brilla” in Italian. This nickname was given to honor the almost dreamlike glint that comes from the black mining dust. Look for the glint on the beaches from your Elba Rio Hotel.
Let us take a moment to remember Virgil’s verses in Aeneid, which extolled the mineral wealth of the Elba: "Ast Ilva [...] Insula inexhaustis Chalybum Metallis generous [...]", or "but Elba [...] is an island rich and inexhaustible in iron mines "(Aeneid, Book 10, verses 146-214).
Today Rio Marina is a seaside village equipped for all the comforts and needs of tourism, like great and affordable Rio hotels.
From the port, there are many ways to reach the mainland. It is often used as an alternative port to Portoferraio. From the port of Cavo you can catch connections to Portoferraio and Piombino.
There are many fascinating historic and cultural heritage sites to be discovered in Rio Marina. Among them are the Church of San Rocco, the sixteenth-century Clock Tower or “Torre degli Appiani,” and the Fort of Jupiter. Do not miss a visit to the very special and unique Mineral Park of the Island of Elba. You can explore the history of open-pit mining in Elba as well as learn more about the history and methods at the Museum of Minerals and Mining.
Also of great historical interest is the Palace of Pons de l'Herault. This stunning palace is currently uninhabited and it gets its name from the Mine Director of the Napoleonic era. Pons de l’Herault is remembered for his opposition to the Emperor's request to claim everything that the people of Elba extracted from the mines.
You can visit the community of Cavo by taking a lovely walking route from Rio Marina that takes you by the impressive Tonietti Mausoleum. Some other great little towns are Capo d'Arco and Ortano, which are wonderful options for short day trips.
The island of Palmaiola is also part of the municipality of Rio.