This is one of the oldest villages on Elba, situated on a hill 155 meters above sea level. Since prehistoric times Rio nell'Elba has been an important mining centre.
Legend tells that it was the Etolii, the first rulers of Elba, that founded the village exploiting it's rich waters. It is certain that, in the 12th century, the Pisans fortified the inhabited part, creating the nucleus, which is now the church of Ss. Giacomo and Quirico Martyr.
Actually nearly all the houses were constructed like fortified ramparts and afterwards were made more attractive with balconies and artistic doorways. The public-park and garden is a charming site with numerous shops selling minerals. The public washhouse at the bottom of the village is a fascinating place and unique on the island.The arrival of the tourist industry has not spoilt the original village and the houses are as they were centuries ago.
The mining areas of Rio have been classified as real geological monuments, among the most valuable in the world, so much so that UNESCO has put them on the list of the 'World Heritage provisional List of Geological Sites'.
There are many interesting sites for archaeology fans, finds of instruments from the paleolithic and neolithic periods as well as a burial site from between the 8th and the 6th century b.C. One should certainly visit the Castle of Volterraio, built in the 11th century by Vanni di Gherardo Rau, on the top of a cliff, during the rule of Pisa, also the interesting church of S. Caterina from the 17th century and the Oratory of the SS. Trinità, as well as the Mineral Museum Alfeo Ricci and the “House of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park”.
Market day: Tuesday.