Recently we spent a few days in the Maremma in southern Tuscany, Italy and immediately fell in love with the place. The Maremma is a magical land with a fascinating history that dates back to the Etruscans. It has a very relaxed pace of life, and some of the most spectacular views you’ll find in Italy. Made up of a vast stretch of countryside, long beaches, blue sea, and some idyllic towns that seem to come straight out of a book of fairytales.
Our timing was perfect. Mid June is early in the tourist season, so the beaches were still practically empty and the temperature balmy but not too hot. Despite the fact that June has been a particularly hot one in Tuscany, the evenings were still very pleasant and the sea breeze made the air deliciously cool.
Maremma, Italy – The unique charm of Southern Tuscany
The ‘tufa towns’, a truly magical sight
Nothing can prepare you for the sight of Pitigliano. Perched dramatically on a hill of tufa, surrounded by green woods with crows circling in the sky above, the view of the town defies description. Look closely at the face of porous tufa, and you can see windows opening directly out of the rock face that give onto cellars excavated centuries ago. Along with, its little sister Sorano, and the too-pretty-to-be-true Sovana, the towns are a delight to visit, with sleepy squares and perfectly preserved Medieval buildings. Highly recommended.
Following in the footsteps of the Etruscans
The whole area around the Tufa towns was once Etruscan territory. The Etruscans built important necropoli in this area – which was close to the Etruscan cities of Chiusi and Vulci – from which today we are able to reconstruct their habits. In this area they cultivated wheat and made wine. The Sovana Archeological Park has some tombs that can be visited. The area is riddled with the mysterious Vie Cave, ancient sunken roads once used by the Etruscans. Walking in the footsteps of the Etruscans along the Vie Cave is an absolute must while you’re in the Maremma, Italy.
Monte Argentario sea views
Mount Argentario is the perfect place in Tuscany from which to enjoy views out onto the Thyrrenian sea. With the dark green mantle of the mountain against the clear blue sea, and the colours of the bouganvillea and oleanders in bloom, it makes a perfect and perfectly relaxing setting. From atop Argentario, the views are spectacular, the Orbetello lagoon embraced by the two narrow spits of land and the Elba Island not too far away.
The best beaches in Tuscany
The Maremma is blessed with some of the best beaches in Tuscany and Italy. It has long stretches of sand and clear water – so clear that the beaches have repeatedly won the blue flag given to the cleanest beaches and sea waters in Italy. Follonica, Castiglione della Pescaia and Alberese are amongst the most popular ones. Top beaches include those in the Nature Reserve of the Uccellina Park and the lovely Feniglia Beach that connects Mount Argentario to the mainland, where people build idiosyncratic mini sun shelters from driftwood.
Sunset on the Orbetello Lagoon
Orbetello lies in the midst of the Lagoon, surrounded by water on all sides, a lovely small town with plenty of shops and restaurants. We visited in late afternoon, when the light was soft and golden, reflecting on the sea and the Cathedral‘s beautiful facade. A very moving sight indeed.
Almost too pretty to be real, Capalbio is not far from the coast and from atop its Medieval walls one can see from the countryside to the sea. It has a pretty little square that looks like a painting, with flowers everywhere decorating the wooden doors, a profusion of vases and picturesque arches and narrow stone passages or vicoli. Here the word picturesque takes on a whole new meaning.
The natural beauty of the Maremma, Italy
If you appreciate nature, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in the Maremma. Relaxing countryside with wheat field that are yellow in june, hay bales lazing in the fields, pine groves with an unmistakable smell. And the WWF Reserve in the Orbetello lagoon where people come to enjoy one of the finest birdwatching spots in Tuscany. Hiking in the Uccellina Nature Reserve takes you from the hills to the sea, showing the diverse Mediterranean landscape in all its glory.
Get a taste of southern Tuscany
We tried a typical dish called aquacotta and you should too. The soup typical of the area, probably more apt for colder months but still delicious on a mild summer evening. We had handmade tortelloni as well, filled with ricotta and spinach. You’ll find the delicious cinta senese cured meat, and the Pitigliano sweet of Jewish origin known as sfratto: pastry filled with walnuts and honey. And then of course, fish, fish, fish. Straight from the boat to the plate. To try the excellent pici ai frutti di mare (thick handmade spaghetti with seafood), head for restaurant L’Oste Dispensa on the Giannella.
Maremma is one of the favourite destinations for a Summer holiday in Tuscany, but there’re many other ways to enjoy the Tuscan Summer. Buon viaggio!