A simple idea to organize a holiday plenty of fun, relax and nature in Tuscany is Castiglione della Pescaia. It is a scenic seaside destination in the Grosseto area (southern Tuscany), with splendid views of Elba and Giglio islands and not far from the Argentario promontory. This town has it all: wild nature, unspoiled landscapes, good food and wine.
Its name Pescaia indicates it used to be an ancient fishing village (“pescare” in Italian means “fishing”). It was first mentioned in Roman times with the name of Salebrone and later inhabited by Umbrians and Etruscans. It was considered a perfect location due to the lake (now transformed into the wetland of Diaccia Botrona, read more below) that provided goods and food.
The city suffered during the Middle Ages because of the pirate attacks and flourished again under the Pisans, who used Castiglione della Pescaia as a base to control the sea. The Republic of Pisa also built the three towers that are still visible today and that constitute the core of the citadel.
Unfortunately bad times came with the natural transformation of the lake Prile into a lagoon: the inhabitants used to pick up salt from this lake but then it became a marsh because of the lack of salinity, then the malaria mosquitoes living in this environment spread the disease all around.
During the 13th century, the population of Castiglione was severely put to the test, and only under the dynasty of the Lorraine family did a series of projects get under way that enhanced the lives of the inhabitants of Castiglione della Pescaia.
Thanks to a deep reclamation and the growing importance of the port (especially before the opening of the Maremma Railway) the town experienced a period of rebirth from the late 18th century, so that it was called the "Little Livorno".
What to see in Castiglione della Pescaia
Castiglione della Pescaia is divided into an upper town and a lower town: the upper town is built on a hill facing the sea, and the lower town is at the foot of the upper town and consists mostly of coast and sandy beaches.
Beaches: the long sandy beaches of Castiglione della Pescaia are a great destination for families traveling with children, thanks to its clear waters but also due to the facilities offered by the bathing establishments. To understand the importance of this summer location, consider that, during the good season, tourism multiplies the population by ten.
There are many fascinating spots to do here, you can find bathing establishments with everything you need for a holiday without worries, and wild nature and secluded beaches. Castiglione della Pescaia is a paradise for people who love summer sports such as sailing and windsurfing.
City Walls: the village of Castiglione preserves the remains of two different city walls. The Pisans erected a first fortified perimeter in the 10th century, delimiting the village on the hill from the settlement located in the lower part. Over the centuries, the constant incursions of pirates led the inhabitants to move to the top, leaving unpopulated the area near the river. During the 15th century, before the Aragonese and then the Sienese built the new walls that came to mark the limits of the current village situated around the castle. The walls of the castle still preserve the three entrance gates called San Giovanni, Madonna del Giglio and del Castello Gates.
Castle of Castiglione: this is a fortress that dominates the village, whose original building dates back to the 10th century, when the Pisans built a tower. The Aragonese enlarged the structure in the 15th century until it assumed the appearance of a fortress. Modified by Cosimo I de’ Medici and then under the Lorraine family at the end of the eighteenth century, it underwent complete renovation in the early 20th century and became a private residence. The castle cannot be visited because it is a private property.
Pineta di Tombolo (Tombolo Pinewood): it is a coastal pine forest in the province of Grosseto, which extends from Castiglione della Pescaia to the Padule della Trappola. The pine forest stretches for about 15 kilometers, parallel to the coastline and is also a natural protected area.
Around Castiglione della Pescaia
Diaccia Botrona natural reserve: it is what remains of the antique Lake Prile, an Etruscan possession before it became the Roman Portus Traianus. It is considered one of the most important areas of wetlands in Italy, with a rare ecosystem of international importance. Within this area, take a walk, ride a bike or a motorbike along paved roads or pathways that head into the scrub amid pine needles and moss.
Casa Rossa Ximenes: it is located in the Diaccia Botrona nature reserve and was commissioned in 1765 by the Lorraine family to the engineer and mathematician Leonardo Ximenes. The complex was built to control the flow of water from the vast marshy area of the lake of Castiglione and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Preserved in good condition even after the loss of its original functions, it was recently restored and converted into a reception centre of the nature reserve Diaccia Botrona. Since 2009, it has housed the multimedia museum of Casa Rossa Ximenes.
Vetulonia: this is one of the most important Etruscan places in Italy, where you can visit the necropolis and the archaeological museum dedicated to Isidoro Falchi, a leading archaeologist who discovered Vetulonia in the 19th century. The artifacts discovered are evidence of the importance of this Etruscan centre, which lived and worked by mining the natural resources present in the area. Here you can also visit the Castle of Colonna, an imposing medieval fortress dating to the 7th century.
Buriano: the ancient town of Buriano hosts a medieval castle and wonderful views over the Maremma. The Rocca Aldobrandesca is a fortress that dominates the village and was built by the Aldobrandeschi family in the 10th century. Changed over the centuries, the building is still visible and its ruins are well preserved.
How to reach Castiglione della Pescaia
By train: The closest train stations are in Grosseto and Follonica. Than you can take a bus to Castiglione della Pescaia.
By bus: http://www.tiemmespa.it/