Follonica is found in the middle of the gulf that bears its name, tucked in between the Piombino peninsular and Punta Ala, which faces out to the Isle of Elba.
Famous for its bathing establishments and its crystalline waters, Follonica has enjoyed the Blue Flag recognition for 20 years. Thanks to its mild climate and shaded location, it is also the ideal place for summer relaxing with all the family.
Ever since antiquity, the town has been known as a centre of ironworking and cast iron production. Its name, indeed, comes from fulloni, the old bellows formerly used in the forges.
As part of Leopold II's Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Follonica became an important industrial hub. Thus a new foundry was built next to the old Medici forges, and the structures remain intact even today.
Thanks to its bright sandy strand and its clear, clean waters, Follonica is one of Tuscany's most important seaside destinations. There are plenty of opportunities to practise watersports along its beautiful beaches, but you can also follow a number of walking trails through the Mediterranean shrub.
The beach of Pratoranieri, less than 5 km from the centre of Follonica, is one of the best known and most appreciated, for its golden sand, the clarity of its water, and its ideal shape for both children and sports enthusiasts. It can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle, thanks to a stretch of pedestrian coast road and a cycle track.
Follonica also offers something for those who wish to take a cultural break, between a swim and a sandcastle. In particular, it is possible to explore the area's historical link with iron and cast iron working by visiting the MAGMA – Museo delle Arti in Ghisa della Maremma (Museum of the Cast Iron Arts of the Maremma), set up in a former foundry. The museum itinerary retraces the history of Follonica's iron and cast iron industry, to which the very origin of the city is linked, using modern installations, interactive tools and audiovisual projections, as well as workshops and educational games.
You can stay on topic by visiting the Church of San Leopoldo, a neoclassical building that represents one of the first cases of "iron architecture" in Tuscany: the pronaos is made of cast iron, as are the columns, balustrade, central arch and friezes by the sculptor Nencini.
The Pinacoteca Civica (Civic Art Gallery) hosts temporary exhibitions of modern and contemporary art.
Northern Maremma has a wealth of stunning landscapes, none of them quite the same. Starting inland, you wade through Mediterranean shrub, which gently segues into the coast. With old medieval towns like Monterotondo Marittimo, Montieri, Roccastrada and Gavorrano, the land forms the perfect backdrop to a transparent sea.
Towards Punta Ala, the long walk to Cala Violina, considered one of the most gorgeous beaches in Italy, is certainly worth the effort.
In the opposite direction, towards Piombino, is the beach of Carbonifera, immersed in the Sterpaia Coastal Park, with fine sand dunes, a luxuriant, centuries-old pine forest and a shallow seabed, it is perfect for families with children.
Among the many events that take place around here, one worth mentioning is the Follonica Carnival. Taking place every February since 1949, it pulls in the visitors, who come for the masked processions and allegorical floats.
Other cultural and musical events have been relaunched in recent years, giving a new lease of life to folk traditions and country festivals.
Wine tourism thrives around Follonica, thanks to the Monteregio Wine Trail, which takes tourists to visit wineries, wine merchants and craft producers in order to show them what the area really makes.
The local culinary tradition, meanwhile, is full of dishes like Maremman tortelli, acquacotta, pappardelle pasta in hare sauce, wild boar with olives and stewed snails.