There are many reasons, including the seven below, why Maremma in the south-west of Tuscany should be included on any itinerary of that stunning region of Italy, including its accessibility from both Florence and Rome.
- Physical landscape
Maremma has a wild and diverse natural landscape that includes undulating hills covered in forests of pine, chestnut, beech and oak as well as pristine secluded beaches along its 250 kilometres of spectacular coastline. There are karst lakes with geothermal spouts, salt marshes and estuaries, some preserved as nature parks with a large variety of bird species, and then there are the Metalliferous Hills that ring the Gulf of Fullonica.
- Villages and towns
Its tranquil hilltop villages, such as Pitigliano, with their towers, churches, stone houses, winding streets and artistic legacy, evoke the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Along the coastal areas of the turquoise waters of the Tyrrennian Sea are delightful fishing villages like Castiglione della Pescaia and Talamone where time appears to have stood still. Also check Farmhouses in Maremma (Agriturismi in Maremma)
- Old traditions
Life in Maremma is simple but rich. It moves to the old rhythms and many of the ancient ways still flourish. One such tradition is that of the butteri, the herdsmen of Maremma. The butteri once managed the area’s distinctive long-horned cattle, and one might be lucky to catch a glimpse of them during festivals and on special occasions.
- Slow Food
There is an inseparable connection between past traditions, ancient recipes and their slow food specialties like acquacotta, a delicious vegetable soup, and papadelle al sugo di cinghiale, a local pasta and wild boar sauce. The area is also known for its organic beef, caprini goats’ cheeses, extra virgin olive oil and honey. The wines of the area have tended to be ignored but local vignerons are now producing some of the most interesting at far below usual Tuscan prices. One to try is Morellino di Scansano.
Throughout the year are many historical and cultural festivals. The Balestro del Girifalco is a medieval pageant complete with costumes, banner throwing and a target shooting competition between 24 crossbowmen held on the 4th Sunday of May and the 2nd Sunday of August in Massa Marittima.
- Archaeological sites
Maremma is noted for its ancient sites that date from the time of the Etruscans (7th-4th centuries BCE) who gave their name to Tuscany and mined extensively for copper and other minerals. They were known in the pre-Roman era for their towns, expertise in metal products and advanced industrial development.
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The Maremma offers beautiful beaches as well as plenty of opportunities for the nature enthusiast specially in the 17 000-hectare Parco Dell’Uccellini wher the visitor might happen upon wild boar, deer, buzzards, peregrines and seasonal birds. The Mountain Commission of the area has created a 400-kilometre network of tracks through the Alta Maremma and these allow for trekking on foot, mountain bike and horseback.
The food and wine of the Maremma is unique as well. Wild boar, pheasant and other types of wild game as well as fresh seafood are area specialties served in every home and restaurant depending on the season. Mushrooms and chestnuts are abundant as well – in the Fall there are festivals devoted to each. Wines have been made here since Etruscan times. One red in particular from the village of Scansano, Morellino di Scansano is gaining in popularity. It is made primarily from the Sangiovese grape and is a cousin to the more well known Brunello and Super Tuscans from nearby in Tuscany. If you enjoy good food prepared in it’s most simple and traditional way with ingredients fresh from the land, this is reason enough to fall in love with Maremma.
The Maremma is a relatively undiscovered part of Tuscany that has much to offer from its wild landscape, architectural and historical gems, farm-fresh cuisine and good wine.