Maremma Toscana: The Land Of Cowboys
Sea, Mountains & Hills Off The Beaten Track
The southernmost part of Tuscany, Maremma Toscana, offers two unparalleled advantages: it has an extraordinarily varied landscape and is a destination off the beaten track. Here you can discover an unspoilt countryside, amazing natural parks, wild sandy beaches, unique hot springs and even snowy mountains where you can ski in winter. Beautiful nature but not only. Medieval art cities, abbeys, towers, castles and fortified villages dot the area. And all this away from the typical mass tourism of other parts of Tuscany.
Ancient land of cowboys, the Maremma has an outspoken and authentic character. It is a land to be tasted and not just to be admired. The boar sauce, the specialties of fish and the acquacotta, a traditional dish with vegetables, are part of Maremma Toscana as the ancient hamlets and the coastal watchtowers. You can not leave Maremma without having tasted the red wine Morellino di Scansano and the white Bianco di Pitigliano. Even local handicrafts offers products of all kinds, to buy in the charming little shops of the country towns.
Enchanting landscapes, delicious food and lots of history. Here the Etruscans and later the Romans thrived for centuries, the Aldobrandeschi ruled in the dark Middle Ages enriching the territory of extraordinary architectural works of art, the Spaniards built amazing fortresses to defend the coast. Maremma boasts cities that seem carved into the rock, built on dizzying canyons covered with lush green forests, watch towers overlooking the sea, rolling hills and heavenly beaches. A true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Maremma Toscana includes the southern part of Tuscany and a small northern part of Lazio. Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, is mostly flat and hilly. The highest mountain is Mount Amiata (1738 meters) and the most important river the Ombrone. It is divided into three major areas: Alta Maremma (Massa Marittima and the metalliferous hills), Maremma Grossetana and Lower Maremma, perhaps the most representative.
Maremma is easily accessible from the international airports of Rome, Pisa and Florence. Here the ideal is to rent a car: you will arrive at your destination in about two hours. As an alternative you can take the train (the railway line is the Pisa-Rome) or bus (from Rome and Florence to Grosseto). Our suggestion is to rent a car, take the Via Aurelia (the main thoroughfare of the area) and wander through the back streets.
In Maremma the reserves, parks and oases occupy about 40,000 hectares and are part of an area that stands out for the variety and richness of its natural environments. Do not miss the mountains Monti dell’Uccellina in the Maremma Natural Park, one of the most beautiful protected areas of Tuscany. But also the hot springs of Saturnia and the wooded landscapes of Mount Amiata, equipped with ski lifts.
Maremma is a mosaic of cultures and artistic treasures. The north, influenced by Siena, the south, homeland of the ancient Etruscan civilization, the coast, dominated for centuries by the Spaniards. And then the Romans, the Aldobrandeschi, the Popes: each of them has enriched this beautiful countryside of fairytale villages, splendid frescoes, massive walls, majestic forts and watchtowers.
Top 5 Things To Do In Maremma Toscana
Massa Marittima is a small town of art of the Maremma and one of the most beautiful medieval towns of Tuscany. Situated in the metalliferous hills 400 meters above sea level, the town is divided into two parts, the lower part (old town) which is dominated by the Romanesque style and the top part (‘new’ town, dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries). Walk along the medieval walls and reach Piazza Garibaldi, where are many historic buildings and the famous Cathedral of San Cerbone, masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Enjoy the views of the countryside and the sea which appear between a building and another. For breathtaking views climb the tower Torre del Candeliere.
The Tuff Towns
Six outstanding medieval hamlets, all of Etruscan origin, dug into the tuff. Here are the Tuff Towns: Magliano, Scansano, Manciano, Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano, in the southern Maremma. Magliano in Toscana Manciano and are ancient fortified villages. Scansano is famous for its wine, the Morellino di Scansano. Pitigliano is carved into the rock and called the ‘Little Jerusalem’ because of the ancient Jewish community here allocated. With his thirteenth-century castle and the cathedral, Sovana is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and offers excellent restaurants. Sorano, with its medieval houses and the fortress of the Orsini, has perhaps the most extraordinary natural setting.
Etruscan ‘Vie Cave’
The ‘Vie Cave’ are the ancient Etruscan roads, carved into the rock with walls higher than 25 meters. This amazing road system has no comparisons in other civilizations of the world. Walking along these mysterious paths, under a roof of ferns, ivy and lichen, it is impossible to avoid a sense of amazement at the idea that this gigantic road system was built without the aid of mechanical means. The ‘Vie Cave’ are located in the area of Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano. All over the roads are some tens and can be traveled on foot or on horseback. Among the roads we suggest the Cavone in the necropolis of Sovana, Via Cava di San Sebastiano, Via Cava di San Rocco and Via Cava Fratenuti.
Not far from the sea, the medieval village of Capalbio dominates the countryside from the top of its hill. Its skyline is unique, with the Aldobrandeschi fortress and the fifteenth-century walls. Capalbio is a historic hamlet, but also a lively and refined tourist destination beloved from the world of culture. Enter the village from the Porta Senese, walk along the crenellated walls and reach the lovely main square. Visit the Romanesque church Pieve di San Nicola and its frescoes of the fifteenth century. Those who want to enjoy the view can climb the tower of the fortress. Do not miss a cocktail at Il Frantoio, Capalbio’s legendary restaurant, where it is not uncommon to find art exhibitions.
The Tarot Garden
The Tarot Garden is an artistic sculpture in human scale by the French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The work is expanded on 2 hectares of land, a real city where the sculptures-homes are inspired by the shapes of the major arcana of the Tarot. The art park is located in Garavicchio, near Capalbio. Niki de Saint Phalle has needed 17 years to finish the work (1979-1996). Made of steel but covered with gaudy glass, mosaics, mirrors and ceramics, today the 22 imposing figures of the arcana dominate with their vivid colors the Maremma countryside. If you will enter these buildings you will get lost between mirrors and magic symbols, feeling in a fairy tale…
Talamone is a fortified fishing village built on a promontory overlooking the Gulf of Monte Argentario. Behind its back is the splendid Natural Park of Maremma. Talamone was inhabited by the Etruscans and Romans, and in medieval times it became a fief of the Aldobrandeschi family, who in the late thirteenth century built the fortress that overlooks the town (do not miss the breathtaking view from the top). The village center is quaint, with narrow streets and stone houses. Reach the marina and enjoy a dish of spaghetti with clams by the sea while watching the colors of the sailing boats, windsurfs and kite surfs, an integral part of this windy coast.
The coast of Maremma is low and sandy, ideal for beach lovers. Here are the most important beaches from south to north: the VIP beaches of Capalbio, the long beaches of Feniglia and Osa with shallow waters and pine forest behind, the Talamone windswept coast, ideal for sailing, wind-surfing and kite-surfing. The beautiful beaches of the Maremma Park, including the protected beach of Cala Forno, the picturesque rocky cove Bagno delle Donne and the wild beaches of Collelungo and Marina di Alberese. Grosseto, Castiglione and Punta Ala offer several equipped beaches. The most beautiful Maremma beach is in theGulf of Follonica: Cala Violina, not to be missed.
Maremma Natural Park
Partly unexplored, this park occupies the coastal stretch of Maremma from Talamone to the Ombrone river. Visit the south, with the mountains Monti dell’Uccellina overlooking the sea and forming a steep coast covered with forest (do not miss Cala Forno Bay). To the north lies the plain of the river Ombrone, with large sandy beaches and dunes (Marina di Alberese and Collelungo), pine forests and wetlands (Paludi della Trappola). The fauna of the park is rich in deer, foxes, porcupines, wild boars, wild horses and birds. Among the historic remains is the abbey of San Rabano (XII century) and the Spanish coastal watchtowers. You can visit the park on foot, by mountain bike, on horseback and by canoe.
In the inner part of the Maremma, Mount Amiata (1738 meters) is an ancient extinct volcano. The mountain is covered by a beautiful forest of chestnut, fir and beech trees, and in winter by snow. Ski enthusiasts here will find 8 lifts, 12 alpine ski runs, 4 cross country ski runs and a snow park. The mountain is also crossed by dozens of hiking trails and 6 routes for mountain biking. The territory is very impressive, with forests, streams, lakes and hot springs. The fauna is rich in deer, chamois and wolves. Do not miss the villages and medieval castles of Monte Amiata, and, if you’re here at Christmas, immerse yourself in the fairy-tale atmosphere of the great torchlight processions typical of the area.
Oasis of Burano
South of Capalbio, the WWF Oasis of Lake Burano is ideal for a day trip, especially in winter, when the waters of the lake are populated by a spectacular amount of migratory birds. Burano is a coastal salt pond of about 410 hectares with an average depth of 1 meter. It is separated from the sea by two sandy paths that can be covered on foot in about 2 hours (2 km). The visit is guided and the path very smooth. Here you will discover a particular flora of Mediterranean maquis and rare examples of dune vegetation. You may encounter hawks, rabbits, porcupines, deer and many butterflies. In winter you can watch the show of birds: pink flamingos, herons, cormorants, kingfishers and hawks.
Saturnia Hot Springs
At the foot of the medieval village of Saturnia, surrounded by a park, Maremma boasts a natural hot springs unique in the world. The source of Saturnia Hot Springs in fact comes from a huge volcanic crater. The hot water then flows for 500 meters in a stream. Here the uneven ground create thermal waterfalls and natural pools right next to an old mill: the scenario could not be more spectacular, perpetually shrouded in a cloud of steam. This area, called Cascate del Mulino, is free and open at night as well. Here you can swim even in winter, but remember the towels. Instead to swim in the huge crater of the volcano you must access the luxurious resort Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf.
Monte Argentario is an island connected to the coast of Maremmana Toscana by two long sandy beaches and a road. It is known for its spectacular rocky coastline and clear sea. Discover the coast of Argentario and its 36 Spanish watchtowers and fortresses. Visit Giglio and Giannutri, the southernmost islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, and go cycling in the Feniglia Nature Reserve. Stroll along the inland trails and climb Mount Punta Telegrafo, 656 meters above sea level, to enjoy breathtaking views of the Orbetello lagoon and of the islands. Do not miss Porto Ercole, a delightful seaside village dominated by a Renaissance fortress. Read more about Monte Argentario…