The Maremma, in southwestern Tuscany, is one of the most unspoiled stretches of the Italian coastline with rambling estates, sandy beaches and striking scenery. This fertile area of Tuscany was cultivated by the Etruscans who were the first to settle, leaving many traces of industry, wealth and fine artworks behind. A forgotten area during the later years of the Roman Empire, the region declined. However, when the swamps were drained and channelled, in part courtesy of Mussolini, this coastal corner of Tuscany grew in stature as a holiday destination.
This is cattle country where Maremma longhorns, renowned for their lean, flavoursome meat, have grazed wild for centuries. The robust, grey cattle live naturally on the land and are cared for by Europe’s only cowboys, the “butteri”. Legend has it that during his 1890 tour of Europe, Buffalo Bill was challenged by the butteri who proceeded to prove themselves more adept at capturing cattle and taming wild horses. The famed mounted livestock herders have roamed the land for centuries on Maremmano horses and today can be spotted corralling cattle or taking part in festivals and shows.
THE BEST BEACHES IN MAREMMA
Maremma has more blue flag beaches than any other region of Italy. There are a number of charming sandy beaches along the unspoilt coastline with clear water and secluded coves that are perfect for a relaxing holiday.
The beaches in Orbetello include the 8 km long Giannella beach and the two main beaches of Punta Ala. Popular, according to the locals, are the endless stretches of beach along the coast of Capalbio, a paradise for lovers of long walks. Also, the easy to find Il Tramonto Beach, where you can enjoy a cocktail at the beach club while admiring the sunset at the end of the day.
WHAT TO DO IN MAREMMA
Few areas in Italy have such a large number of protected areas with wild scenery and lush pine forests that are well worth exploring. Scenes from Quantum of Solace were filmed on the rocky promontory of Talamone, which lies on the southern border of the Maremma nature reserve. The Maremma Regional Park is the last butteri heartland where you will spot the Italian cowboys, on their horses, galloping full tilt in pursuit of moving cattle.
Visit the Etruscan Tombs and Roman remains in the ancient harbour town of Populonia, situated on a hill with stunning views over the Tuscan archipelago. A busy centre for Etruscan trade, Poplulonia provides a fascinating window into this unique civilisation and today is full of charming shops and cafes.
Get out on the water by taking a boat tour on the Ombrone River in The Maremma Regional Park. Home to hundreds of resident migrating and nesting birds, there are wonderful bird watching opportunities. Or, visit the impressive Tarot Garden in Capalbio, built by French artist Niki de Saint de Phalle.
For the more energetic, practice your swing at the Golf Club Punta Ala, one of the most beautiful golf courses in Tuscany with panoramic views over the sea, or go riding in the main Tuscan Natural Park - Parco regionale della Maremma.
FOOD & WINE
Maremma’s culinary tradition is indisputably linked to the country life and uses local meat, wild game and herbs as its main ingredients. Maremma beef has an intense red colour and delicious aroma, and there’s no shortage of juicy T-bone steaks served in the local restaurants. The atmosphere and flavours of an exclusive trattoria toscana restaurant can be experienced at La Trattoria Enrico Bartolini, situated in the old ancient granary of Grand Duke Leopold II of Lorraine, not far from Grosseto. The region of Maremma is growing in reputation for producing world class wine, the most renowned Morellino di Scansano, with its unique perfume, is the Tuscan wine of choice.
Game is ever present in Maremma cooking, especially wild boar, woodcock, hare, pigeon and larks. There are also many local salamis and sausages made with wild boar meat and, along with the famous specialities, you will find superb seafood, organic honey and sloes as well as cheeses, particularly ricotta and pecorino. Tortello Maremmano, big raviolo filled with fresh ricotta and spinach, is another well-known dish that can be enjoyed with melted butter and sage or with a meat sauce.
WHERE TO STAY
A selection of Tuscany villas with pools are available to rent in Maremma. Il Serratone, two hours south of Forte dei Marmi, is a large nine-bedroomed country retreat within reach of some of the best beaches in Tuscany. The estate stretches over 1200 acres of protected nature reserve in an area of astounding natural beauty.
The peaceful estate of La Vigna is located just 40 minutes from Montalcino. Set amidst a nature reserve, guests can enjoy complete privacy whilst spending the day by the swimming pool before gathering around the dining table in the evening. Villa Del Gelso, just ten minutes away from the ancient medieval Village of Capalbio, is ideal for outdoor dining on the terrace that looks out over the large infinity swimming pool in the garden and panoramic views over the surroundings hills.
Maremma, a fashionable destination for countryside and beach lovers, blends natural wildlife, ancient art, delicious food and magnificent wineries into a seamless experience of discovery for a luxury holiday in Italy. But, above all, it's the uniqueness of the region that marks the Maremma off from the rest of Tuscany.