Tuscan Archeology by the Sea

Summer in Tuscany is really pleasant, especially if you are on vacation. It can be really hot and humid as hell sometimes, but heatwaves usually die down after a few weeks and luckily we also have mountains and an amazing coastline. Therefore, at high altitudes or by sea, the temperatures, at least at night, are more than acceptable and there is always a nice breeze. In summer it's not easy to spend the whole day visiting towns and monuments, especially if you are traveling with kids or if you are over 50. Indeed, it is even discouraged by the experts! So we thought we’d recommend a few places that, within 20 km, are totally manageable as day trips, merging relaxation and cultural enrichment. In this post we focus on historical sites where you can discover the civilizations that once lived in our region. The archaeological sites that we have chosen, however, have a special feature: they are located very close to the sea. Following our tips you can spend the day both at the beach and visiting an attraction. Perhaps you should visit the historic site in the morning and as soon as you're ready, you can go to the beach, where you can relax and wait for the sunset.

The Roman Villa of Giannutri island + Cala Maestra cove

This site is absolutely the BEST of the archaeological sites by the sea, because it is located in the beautiful Tuscan archipelago and because it is a new entry! The Roman villa of Giannutri, dating back to the second century AD, had been closed for 15 years, but finally restoration works were completed and the site is now open to the public.
[Photo credits: Instankram]
[Photo credits: Instankram]
 This delicate environment needs to be protected and to do that there are strict rules to follow. You cannot visit the site by yourself. The Park Authority has selected seven guides who will accompany a maximum of 25 visitors per shift, and there are three shifts a day throughout the weekends of July, August and September. The entrance to the archaeological site is free but you have to pay for the tour guide. Reservations are required. You can enjoy a dip in Cala Maestra beach, which is currently the only place where bathing is permitted. Services such as beach umbrella rentals are not offered, so bring what you need for sun protection. For information and reservations contact the InfoPark: 0565908231 - info@parcoarcipelago.info Wildness: 5/5 Water: 5/5 Facilities: 2/5 Archaeological appeal: 5/5 Ease of getting there: 2/5 Accessibility: 1/5
[Photo Credits: Aldo Ardetti]
[Photo Credits: Aldo Ardetti]

The Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia + The Gulf of Baratti

The Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia is an 80 hectare area and is the result of archaeological excavations carried out between 1996 and 1998. This is one of the largest Etruscan necropolis and the only one right on the coast in the world. The park includes the Etruscan-Roman town of Populonia, necropolises, quarries and industrial quarters. Well-preserved paths connect all the sites, with surprising views of the gulf. The full ticket costs 16 euro and allows access to the three sites (car park included). It is very organized with tourist information all around the park.
[Photo Credits: Stefano M.]
[Photo Credits: Stefano M.]
The medieval village of Populonia is well worth a visit and if you climb up the tower, you'll be rewarded with the amazing view of the gulf and the Tuscan Archipelago. Baratti is a lovely bay with kilometres of beautiful sandy beaches, great swimming (the sea gets deep within a few metres) and impressive umbrella pine trees. You need to walk through woodland (dotted with nice picnic tables) for 5 minutes to reach the beach. You can choose one of a dozen entrances and arrive on a part of the beach that suits you, either a beautiful, deserted beach or an area with more amenities, such as café toilets. There is a seaside establishment (Bagno Altamarea) where you can rent a sun umbrella, two sun beds and a deckchair. The price includes WI-FI, firm sea beds, showers, a well-equipped kids playground and a bathing wheelchair for disabled people. It is possible to rent canoes and paddle boats. Wildness: 3/5 Water: 5/5 Facilities: 4/5 Archaeological appeal: 5/5 Ease of getting there: 4/5 Accessibility: 5/5* (*through the seaside establishment)
[Photo Credits: Bagno Altamarea]
[Photo Credits: Bagno Altamarea]

The archaeological area of Roman Massaciuccoli + Vecchiano beach

In the heart of Versilia, around Massarosa, there's an archaeological site overlooking Massaciuccoli Lake. This area includes the remains of two leading staples of the Imperial Roman era – a luxurious villa and thermal baths – and a series of findings that suggest the presence of a small settlement and its burial area. The archaeological area of Roman Massaciuccoli is included in the Natural Park of Migliarino-San Rossore, the largest wetland in Tuscany. Twenty kilometres further west there is Marina di Vecchiano with sand dunes and pinewoods. The beach of Marina di Vecchiano is four kilometres long and is mainly free and partially equipped. The water is not as clear as it is on Giannutri island or along the Baratti bay, but the beach is wide and usually not crowded. These elements make you feel like you’re in a deserted place, wild, though the beach is quite easily accessible. Wildness: 4/5 Water: 2/5 Facilities: 3/5 Archaeological appeal: 4/5 Ease of getting there: 5/5 Accessibility: 4/5* (*through the seaside establishment)
[Photo Credits: Massaciuccoli Romana on Facebook]
[Photo Credits: Massaciuccoli Romana on Facebook]

Vetulonia + the beaches of Castiglione della Pescaia

The first settlements in the area date back to the ninth century. B.C. when a group settled on the heights nearby. Between the 9th and the 8th century B.C. Vetulonia became an important center due to its influence on the exploitation of metal reserves. The city became powerful and it had contacts not only with the other Etruscan cities, but especially with Sardinia, central Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Vetulonia was discovered in the 1800s and nowadays is one of the most important Etruscan cities in Italy.
Pietrera tomb in Vetulonia [Photo Credits: Cisgiu]
Pietrera tomb in Vetulonia [Photo Credits: Cisgiu]
A little more than 20 km from here is Castiglione della Pescaia, which boasts a long stretch of coastline with some of the most beautiful beaches of Tuscany. All along the coastline there are wide beaches of fine sand and stretches of rocks surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean vegetation, pine woods and forests of cork and oak trees. The nearest beaches coming from Vetulonia are called Levante and Ponente. The Levante beach is located south of Castiglione della Pescaia, while Ponente is on the north side. Both of them are expansive beaches of fine golden sand. In the Ponente beach there are seaside establishments with sun beds and umbrellas, while the Levante beach also has a free beach. If you have time and feel like you can do a few more kilometres, you might reach some really stunning and wild beaches, such as Cala Violina, Cala Martina, Le Marze beach, and Cala di Forno. Wildness: 3/5 Water: 4/5 Facilities: 5/5 Archaeological appeal: 4/5 Ease of getting there: 5/5 Accessibility: 3/5