Tuscany is a combination of different types of beauty, the natural and the artistic. Its variety never ceases to amaze, right the way from its mountain ridges down to the coast, where the teeming waters gleam on the picturesque seaside towns and hills that thrive off the marine goodness. From north to south, the Tuscan coast runs through the most diverse areas, each with its own hallmarks; but beauty, hospitality, quality of life and quality of the sea are common themes. That's why Tuscany has almost 20 Blue Flag beaches. All this the "Tuscan Coast and Islands" project aims to valorize, emphasizing the bond between the sea and the interior, places that nurture histories and traditions that just want to be loved and shared.
In order to reinforce such diversity of coast and coastal towns, the Tuscan Coast has put itself forward as a pilot region that will try out, at a national level, a model of sustainable tourism; it is hoped that other regions will follow suit. Sustainability has an incalculable value, not least because of how it makes a place more attractive to guests and more inhabitable for residents: it has a positive knock-on for the whole area, and helps create an image of trailblazing tourism. This involves reducing emissions through new transport services (including, for example, micromobility, slow mobility and electrical mobility); drastically reducing waste; streamlining routes for waste disposal services, to maximize and best manage the waste collected. Underpinning it all is a fundamental respect for biodiversity, the protection of which is paramount.
The first essential measure for the safeguarding of the environment is a ban on selling and using single-use plastic on the beaches, in parks and in protected areas of Tuscany. The same law - the first in Italy of its kind - also prohibits the use of plastic at events organized or funded, even if only in part, by the region and by local businesses. The result is record-breaking: 900 beach resorts on the Tuscan coast are now plastic-free.
The initiative will also involve Tuscan schools hosting workshops to educate pupils about environmental sustainability and teach them how to recycle and use non-polluting materials. An environmental kit will be distributed among educational institutions with a handbook of general tips. The Tuscan region and businesses in Tuscany will be involved in a competition set up to nurture projects that explore how plastic can be better disposed of and recycled.
As another aspect of the "plastic-free Tuscany" campaign, a touring exhibition with photos and multimedia artwork has been designed to foster interaction and engagement among tourists. Shots by photographer Laura Lezza have immortalized the sea monsters of the modern age: hulks of coagulated plastic floating in the ocean, catching and killing plants and animals.
Regarding transport, an agreement with the national railway company and the Tuscany Tourist Board entitles us to discounts in certain hotels and other accommodation, up until 31 October, provided that we get there by train. It is hoped that this offer will encourage us to choose trains, one of the more sustainable forms of transport, to take us to the incredible destination that is the Tuscan coast and the Tuscan archipelago.
Finally, numerous events will be organized around the theme of sustainability, in order to promote and preserve the Tuscan coast and islands. These events will help participants discover different places: Un'Altra Estate, for instance, a travelling fair that passes through many medieval towns - symbols of the coast and islands - highlights another crucial aspect of the region: the unique cuisine and craft traditions to be found here.