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Alberese, the Maremma Park and the bridge of Gigi della barca

From Grosseto to Alberese by bike on the bridge named after the historic ferryman

The cycle-pedestrian bridge named after Eugenio Luigi Bellucci, nicknamed Gigi della barca (Gigi of the boat) allows you to cross the Ombrone river at the same place where the ancient Via Aurelia once ran. Thanks to the bridge and the cycle-pedestrian path that runs at the top of the embankment on the orographic right of the river, you can easily reach Alberese and the Maremma Regional Park by bike. An urban cycle-pedestrian path connects the railway station to the starting point of the route, which begins at Via Magenta, in the San Lorenzo district, southern outskirts of the city. Reaching the embankment top you ride letting the sea breeze, rising from the coast not far away, lull you for the next 4 kilometers. Following the signposts you will arrive at the cycle-pedestrian bridge.

Beyond the river, we enter the park area in the Spergolaia area, the old Lorraine granary of the Alberese Estate, managed by the Ente Terre Regionali Toscane (Tuscan Regional Lands Authority). Here you can have a first contact with Maremma culture and tradition by meeting grazing horses, big-horned cows and, if you are lucky, one of the characters that belongs to the collective imagination of Maremma: the buttero (cowboy). The breeding of animals in the wild makes the work of the buttero, an ancient profession protected by the Region of Tuscany, irreplaceable even today. In Spergolaia, you find the beautiful bike path that comes from the Alberese Visitor Center and leads, following it in the direction of the sea, to the beach of Marina di Alberese through the protected area with regulated traffic of the Park (free entrance for bicycles that reach the sea from the bike path). Following the bike path in the opposite direction, you will reach Piazza del Combattente, the main square in Alberese. The rural village is developed around the large building of the Fattoria Granducale (grand ducal farm). The farm was owned by the Habsburg-Lorraine until World War I, when the Italian government expropriated Alberese and, in 1923, assigned the farm to the Opera Nazionale Combattenti (National Combatants Foundation). 

The joint action of the Opera and the Genio Civile in reclaiming the territory allowed for a strong demographic increase and, with the immigration of families from Veneto and Friuli, today's town was formed. A little more than a kilometer from the built-up area, the Strada di Valle Giardino comes off to your left, lined with large maritime pines that will shelter you, depending on the season, from the wind or the summer heat. Ride until you come to a railroad underpass. This is the Tyrrhenian railway line that you will leave on the right, turning left onto the Strada del Barbicato. Slightly elevated above the Alberese plain, clear is the perception of the large agricultural spaces, which the patient work of workers have made fertile and productive for a wide variety of fruit, vegetable and cereal crops. A short stretch on the Provincial Road in the direction of Alberese anticipates the entry onto Strada della Dogana. The place-name takes us back to the centuries of transhumance when, in September each year, thousands of cattle arrived in these places, coming from the pastures of the Apennines, led by shepherds from Romagna and the Casentino. The Maremma was still bitter and some of those men perhaps, in May of the following year, did not take the road back home. The wheels of our bicycle run fast on the via della Dogana, which after about 3 kilometers are back onto the provincial road. We will travel along it for a short distance carefully because there may be traffic, finding the old Aurelia again near Spergolaia. Before long we will be again in sight of the bridge and the bicycle path that will take us back to the city. 

Leaving Alberese behind us, with its stories of cowboys and migrants, we will feel confident that we have experienced a cross-section of Maremma life, the authentic kind, which will remain in our hearts.


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