Unique landscapes full of hidden treasures, history, art and authentic flavours: a trip to Maremma and Amiata, in southern Tuscany, offers plenty of opportunities to relax and feel in control of your own time.
From the Colline Metallifere to the Orbetello lagoon, between isolated beaches and exclusive resorts on the coast, all the way to the top of the sleeping volcano called Monte Amiata, wild scenery and villages marked by traces of ancient civilisations never cease to amaze.
Here are some ideas for a wellness adventure in southern Tuscany.
Parks and unspoilt nature
To enjoy the nature offered by Maremma and Monte Amiata, there is no better place to start your holiday than in the parks and protected areas of the region.
The Parco Nazionale dell’Arcipelago Toscano (Tuscan Archipelago National Park) is a protected area that is home to a complex ecosystem. The crystal-clear sea laps against a long and varied stretch of coast that includes the Tyrrhenian islands of Giglio and Giannutri whose rocks and cliffs rise out of the sea.
A visit to the park can involve many itineraries: whether it be in the north near the mouth of the river Ombrone, or in the Uccellina mountains. Here, in the 12th century, watchtowers formed part of the surveillance system from Castiglione della Pescaia to Talamone and up to the old San Rabano Abbey. Wild boar frolic freely in the Mediterranean scrub that is so common here and you may even come across the famous butteri (cowherds) who herds of wild horses and cows.
The Parco faunistico dell’Amiata (Mount Amiata Fauna Park) is under scientific protection to aid the conservation of endangered animals and plants. Here you can experience the mystic atmosphere of the silent forests and authentic traditions, relax in the fresh air and taste typical delicacies like: honey, forests fruits, mushrooms and chestnuts.
Food and Wine: high in quality and traditional in taste
Il Parco di Maremma serves an important purpose in protection of local culinary products like: organic extra-virgin olive oil, Maremma beef, durum wheat pasta, tomato sauce, bread and wine.
There is a sustainability to be found in an authentic local cuisine that values local dishes like Acquacotta, fish soups and lamb bouillon. Maremma’s climate guarantees that local produce is of a high quality, meats are of a certified quality and vines grow in the volcanic soil along the Strada del Vino e dei Sapori Colli di Maremma, an area that is famous for producing high quality red and white wine. A high standard is also expected of the seafood along the coast where blocks or marble, carved out by artists from the Cava Michelangelo, hinder industrial netting of fish.
Archaeology and museums, discovering the ancient past
In order to understand the history of this area one should visit sites like the Roselle archaeological area and the Vetulonia Archaeological Park where the citadel of one of the most important Etruscan cities was built and where the burial ground, with its princely tombs and Etruscan-Roman city ruins, can still be visited.
The “Citta del Tufo” Archaeological Park and the Sovana, Sorana and Vitozzaareas are home to the region's significant historic, cultural and natural heritage. Evidence of the Etruscan period, including tombs and burial grounds, can still be seen in these areas today. This whole area can be discovered on horseback or on foot with tours along the Vie Cave Etrusche which finish in the breath-taking countryside of Pitigliano (the “little Jerusalem”). Here the ancient ghetto remains intact with the old synagogue and bread ovens providing evidence of Jewish settlements. In this unique area, the volcanic prehistoric climate and years of erosion have created beautiful volcanic rocks, on which stand old villages with their fortifications, castles, medieval churches and renaissance palaces.
You must take time to explore the wide network of local museums and the surrounding area (Massa Marittima, Monterotondo Marittimo, Roccastrada and Follonica). These all offer historical and artistic evidence that also exposes the work of man below ground through archaeological mining tours in the Parco delle Colline Metallifiere that extend right up to the edges of Mount Amaita and the cinnabar mines of Santa Fiore.
Wellness and relaxation
Maremma is also an area that offers both physical and phycological rehabilitation through the properties of the water in its thermal baths. These baths create an unusual landscape marked by open air pools where one can bathe and relax or enjoy personalised treatments, like those at Saturnia and Sorano. This program of wellness, beauty and relaxation can be followed on into the province of Siena to the baths at Petrioloand Rapolano.