Have you ever met someone who is unwilling to return to Italy? Do you ever think you have seen enough? Twirled your last strand of spaghetti? Had your last excellent glass of wine? No, neither have we.
One of the great marvels of Italy is discovering more layers of its colourful history and vibrant culture. One region that fits this description perfectly is the Alta Maremma, one of Tuscany's gems which is still waiting to be discovered for some. Its towns do not have such familiar names; you won’t find them on magazine covers or in chapters of guidebooks. We know that often when deciding where to travel there is inspiration in the known and a draw to visit the most important, historic and better known places but, we think we can tempt you to explore this little less well-trodden path. Here is a brief what to know about visiting this quieter corner of Tuscany.
Coastline & Beaches in Maremma
Most of Italy‘s coastline is rocky cliffs or narrow pebble beaches. But the Tuscan coast has a long stretch of sandy beach accessible across low dunes of ‘macchia mediterranea’ – the kind of scrubby low-land woods you find growing in sandy places which is ideal for families with young children.
Your choices along the Alta Maremma coast are beach clubs like La Pineta, with its own famous restaurant servicing superb fish dishes. Alternatively, stay at a villa like Il Serratone, which is within a a short drive to the beaches of Puntone and Torre Mozza (two of Tuscany's best beaches) and take everything you need for your very own beach picnic.
Puntone beach has a host of watersports for the whole family to try including kite surfing and paddle boarding. If that sounds a little too active, don't worry, half of the beach is dedicated to relaxing. There is a restaurant on the beach but the town of Scarlino is just moments away and is worth a visit, especially in October when it hosts its annual chestnut festival!
Maremma Wine Region
This is the land of Super Tuscans and the charming medieval village of Bolgheri. If you know wine, these fields grow the grapes that become Guado al Tasso, Sassicaia and Ornellaia plus Argenteria. If you don’t know wine, you soon will. Plan a visit to the award-winning winery of Colle Massari and their organic Grattamacco farm for tastings and re-stocking your larder. Don’t forget to take home some of their EVVO and grappa for after dinner.
Medieval Hill Towns to Explore
As you can imagine, there are lots of pretty towns and villages to discover but one of our personal favourites is Castagneto Carducci. The town was built around the castle, which is still intact and still a home, occupied by descendants of the family that built it.
Castagneto Carducci is a majestic stone village with an everyday modern life tucked within its still impressive walls. Visit in the evening for a passegiata and aperitivi before dinner when people emerge again after a hot summer day. Here, the activity is concentrated on the pedestrian-only centre of town. Stop at Rita’s Peperita store for chilli products from her farm, there is superb olive oil and jams. There are a number of good places to eat, Hannibal Ristomacelleria is a favorite if you appreciate a witty, outspoken owner who cares about the food he serves. Our personal favourite spot is the humble tailor shop where you can have a custom-made cashmere jacket constructed and delivered direct to your home.
Thermal Baths & History to Discover
You can literally soak in the culture here…in the thermal baths that have been constructed around the natural hot springs that still flow from Monte Amiata, Italy’s highest volcano after Mount Etna. This magnificent mountain – a hulking, brooding presence across most all of southern Tuscany, still feeds these hot springs some 300,000 years since it last erupted.
Terme di Sassetta is a thermal bath which is a decidedly casual affair, being tucked around a hill past a farm. The signage is minimal, the atmosphere a bit of Esalen. The food in the restaurant is superb and the entire experience is utterly relaxing and easy.
For families with particularly energetic and imaginative children, visits here are a chance to map out and dig into the mysterious vanishing Etruscan culture. Aesthetically sophisticated – maybe a little bit Egyptian? – they left stone behind but not much else. Except of course their influence on early Roman culture and we know how that went. The Maremma is crisscrossed by evidence they were here and yet, where did they go? What happened? Our Italy experts can recommend a more detailed list of places to visit but Populonia and Volterana would be top of our list.
If you are looking for a taste of authentic Tuscany, where food and wine, fun and recreation plus some local culture are on the agenda, Alta Maremma is the place to visit.
Our Italy Villa Specialists can help find the perfect base for your Italian adventure in the beautiful Maremma region. Get in touch on +44 (0) 1242 787 800.