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A tour in Maremma: art and nature in the savage Tuscany

The Tuscan Maremma is a haven of art, history and nature

The Maremma, the southern coastal area of Tuscany and its neighbouring inland, is home to a variety of things to see, from art parks to Etruscan tombs to hot springs and beautiful beaches. Check out our ideas for spending a weekend – or even a long weekend – in the area, alternating between cultural activities and lying on the beach.

  • 1.
    Art parks and sculpture gardens
  • 2.
    Etruscan tombs and towns
  • 3.
    Beaches, spas and food

Art parks and sculpture gardens

Niki de Saint Phalle Tarot Garden in Capalbio
Niki de Saint Phalle Tarot Garden in Capalbio

This Niki de Saint Phalle Tarot Garden in Capalbio is still somewhat off the beaten track, making it a peaceful stop on your weekend itinerary. This sculpture park is a place like you’d never imagine, a wonderful and colourful world of mosaics and curvy forms, topped with a brilliant sense of humour. While the term “sculpture park” may ring as a somewhat boring place to your ears, we assure you it’s not. The larger-than-life installations are sure to delight adults and children alike.

Swiss artist Daniele Spoerri's Garden is home to 112 installations by 55 artists across roughly 16 hectares, making it a beacon of outdoor contemporary art in Seggiano. An afternoon here is surely to be a delight as you stroll down the winding trails, observing the dialogue each of the sculptures has with the surrounding nature.

Etruscan tombs and towns

Roselle archaeological area
Roselle archaeological area - Credit: LepoRello

The whole of the Maremma is rich in Etruscan heritage, which can be seen in the two biggest traces of this ancient period: tombs and other ruins and the Vie Cave around the tuff towns. The latter are roads dug out of the tuff rock, a soft stone formed from volcanic ash, particularly around Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana, whose origins are steeped in mystery. Still within the Maremma, you’ll find Vetulonia, where an entire Domus from the Etruscan era was recently discovered.

The towns of Pitigliano, Sorano and Manciano rest atop steep Italian hills, built into the tuff bedrock. While the towns date to the Etruscan era, they’ve since undergone several changes, and most of the surviving architecture in the hilltop towns dates to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Unfortunately, the soft tuff stone has deteriorated over the centuries and many of the buildings have been destabilized. Indeed, a full 10% of the town of Sorano has disappeared!

When walking the Vie Cave or exploring the area by car, we suggest looking for the brown signs with an archeological symbol, which lead to many different tombs and other ruins dotting the landscape, especially the archeological area in Roselle.

If the Middle Ages are more your thing, then you might be interested to know that there is also plenty of Romanesque architecture in the area, mostly in ruins, like the Abbey of San Lorenzo al Lanzo and the Abbey of San Galgano, with its famous sword in the rock.

Beaches, spas and food

Saturnia hot springs
Saturnia hot springs - Credit: Michele Cannone

The beaches that line the Maremma coast are some of Italy's best. Castiglione della Pescaia in particular often received the Blue Flag, awarded to the cleanest beaches with the best services. The beaches here, however, are mostly populated by resorts with umbrellas and lounge chairs that you have to pay for to access. There are two free beaches though, but parking might be hard to find.

Continuing to the south, below Capalbio, you’ll find some exclusive beaches, as well as free spots, all with reasonable car access. Two additional beaches worth mentioning are the popular Cala Violina and the beach in Alberese, located within the nature park.

If the beach isn’t your kind of thing, or you’re here outside the summer season, try visiting a thermal bath, like Saturnia and Petriolo. But whether you’re lounging on the beach or enjoying a massage, you’ll probably want some food afterward, and there’s no better place than the Maremma, where fresh fish, fowl, wild boar and other game are popular and traditional dishes.

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