The toponym Vignale indicates a locality in the hinterland of Piombino on the southern edge of the alluvial plain of the river Cornia which in antiquity was situated on the edge of the western marshes on the Piombino plain and guaranteed links with the nearby port of Falesia.
From the middle of the 3rd century B.C.onwards, the construction of the via Aurelia/Aemilia Scauri intensified this area’s connective role, which probably led to the birth of a large settlement in the middle Republican period and its development in the early imperial period, known from 19th century excavations. The investigations, which resumed in 2003, have so far brought to light a large building complex, overlying a number of pre-existing structures probably belonging to a rural settlement.
The building under excavation, which extends uphill from the present provincial road 39 (ex SS 1 – Aurelia), stood by the ancient road. Internally it was divided into an area of large service rooms with rough floors and a residential area characterised by better quality wall facings and floors (fine opus signinum with lozenge-shaped coloured marble inserts and painted plaster). To the west the building was delimited by a portico with brick columns facing onto a large basalt paved courtyard. The courtyard was entered from what was probably a branch off the via Aurelia (partially investigated). Within the complex there appeared to be part of a mansio, probably associated with a residential villa overlooking Piombino’s lake system, a very productive area. In fact, downhill from the modern road the remains of a large productive complex came to light. To date at least two large kilns for the production of tiles, amphorae and coarse ware pottery have been uncovered. They appeared to have been active between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D. Numerous bricks/tiles stamped by M. Fulvius Antiochus, probably an officinator of the figlinae of M. Fulvius, were present on the site and would seem to have been produced by this production complex.
The presence of a homogeneous corpus of brick/tile stamps and of the kilns, together with the first archaeometric data which seems to indicate that the clays used did not come from the Tiber valley or Campania, suggests that the material stamped by Antiochus was produced at Vignale.
In the late antique period the building uphill from the road underwent significant restructuring. More huts were probably built on the part of the site that continued to be residential, occupying sectors of the building that were still partially standing. In the area to the north the first burials begin to appear, cut into the layers obliterating the floors.
To date over 50 burials have been identified, both of adults and children, arranged in irregular rows with the heads to the west. The inhumations were in single earth graves without any grave goods. This was probably a very large cemetery linked to a settlement of some size which in the meantime may have been built over the remains of the Roman villa or elsewhere.
To date no evidence of any substance has been documented for the medieval phases at Vignale. The toponym is attested in documents written at the end of the 10th century and a turris “called S. Vito” is known from the same period which may represent the first nucleus of a fortified settlement, whose topographical location remains unknown. The position of the “castro et burgo et curte de Vignale”, attested for the first time in 1055, also remains unknown. It was only towards the end of the 13th century that a fortified settlement took shape on the hill known as ‘of the Castle’, of which substantial remains survive among the thick vegetation.
Following the castle‘s abandonment at the beginning of the 15th century, the territory of Vignale became part of a large estate which encompassed all of the southern part of the marshy plain of the river Cornia. It was exploited for free-range stock-raising and forestry until the mid 18th century. From this period onwards the large agricultural concern, whose centre was the farm which still stands on the hillside, gradually began to take shape. The management of such a vast estate led to the birth of farmhouses scattered throughout the territory and of the first nucleus of the village of Ritorto, whose origins are linked to the necessity of providing lodgings for the farm workers.
- Enrico Zanini - Università di Siena, Dipartimento di Archeologia e Storia delle Arti
- Anna Patera - Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana
- Elsa Pacciani - Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
- Andrea Camilli - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana
- Elisa Triolo - Università degli Studi di Siena
- Pasquino Pallecchi - Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
- Stefano Costa - Università degli Studi di Siena
- Maurizio Toccafondi - Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
- Elisabetta Giorgi - Università degli Studi di Siena
- Università degli Studi di Siena
- Azienda Agricola Tenuta di Vignale s.r.l.
- Camping Pappasole s.r.l.
- Comune di Piombino - Quartiere di Riotorto
- Direzione Nazionale Unicoop Tirreno
- Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali
- No files have been added yet