Piazza Bovio, in Piombino – the largest, sea-facing clearing in Europe – is named after a Republican free thinker from Apulia, Giovanni Bovio: a man of the Italian Risorgimento and deputy of the Kingdom of Italy from 1876 to 1903, who spent his life pursuing ideals of justness.
Piombino is the setting of a best-selling Italian novel by Silvia Avallone, titled “Acciaio”, originally published by Rizzoli in 2010, and translated in its English edition under the title “Swimming to Elba” (Viking Adult, 2012). The magnificent square, built in the 1920s with a pointy terrace jutting out to the sea, is mentioned several times in the plot.
Avallone describes gangs of kids, in their designer shoes and ripped-up jeans, quickly reaching Piazza Bovio as if in a rush, then simply turning around and going back to Piazza Gramsci, over and over again, tirelessly.
There is also a couple of former lovers who, after looking at the profile of Elba at sunset, walk side by side in this place of the past, overlooking the sea, towards the lighthouse that marks the spot where the beautiful island and Piombino are closest.
The man and woman go looking for their names, etched on one of the benches, and at one point lean forward from the granite balustrade, turning the square dedicated to a famous republican into a most romantic terrace.
Carefree kids, sunsets over the sea, islands, love, past, present and future: all of this, and much more, on the splendid square on the Tyrrhenian Sea.