The Maremma is outstanding for its many protected natural areas that offer the chance to appreciate its wide variety of animals, insects and birds, trees, shrubs and flowers and to enjoy its special light and scenic beauty.The Nature Reserves aren't separate from the rest of the territory, but are symbolic of an integral whole. The Maremma affirms a way of life in harmony with nature and the rhythm of the seasons.
The Parco Naturale della Maremma encompasses the Monti dell'Uccellina, running parallel to the coastline from Principina a Mare to Talamone and was one of the first protected areas instituted in Italy. The Natural Park of Maremma winds along an interesting mosaic of ecosystems for 25 km: from Principina a Mare, the river Ombrone and the mountains of the Uccellina, covered with maquis, in the north to a marsh area and sandy or rocky coast in the south to Talamone. The Natural Park of Maremma thrive an amazing amount of wild animals and plants interesting, reeling from a typical habitat of the Mediterranean coast: wooded hills, olive groves, pastures, pine forests, dunes, estuaries and mudflats and represents an ideal natural habitat for horse and bovines. In the environments of the pastures moreover they live stably hares, foxes, porcupines, wild boars.
Many itineraries are proposed, you can plan on your own or can be toured with a guide after booking. In addition the park offers tours by horse, chariot, canoe and bicycle.
The town of Orbetello lies on a narrow tongue of land jutting out into the eastern and western lagoons and has been joined to the Monte Argentario promontory since 1841 by an artificial dyke. The two lagoons are closed by two strips of land, the tombolos of the Feniglia and the Giannella, offering several miles of beaches. Thanks to its unusual setting, the town appears from above like a ship anchored in the still waters of the lagoon, with the artificial dyke forming a gangplank linking it to the Argentario peninsula. The origins of the town and of its name, Orbetello, are unclear: Orvelus, Urva Tellus or Urbis Tellus - the circular town, the town of herbs or the town of towns? Perhaps if it had not been plundered in 1455 and the town’s archives destroyed we would know more.
From 1557 to 1801 was the capital of the Stato dei Presidi, until was annexed to Grand Duchy of Tuscany from Napoleon. At the beginning of the last century the town’s economy was still largely based on farming and fishing in the lagoon. The development of industry brought several factories, the mines, the hydro port and the fish processing plant. These industries transformed Orbetello into a busy and prosperous town that was dubbed “Little Venice” or “Little Paris”. It’s name is also linked to an important chapter in the history of Italian aviation. Four transatlantic hydroplane flights took off from the lagoon: from the first Atlantic crossing in 1928 to the last and most famous - Orbetello - Chicago - New York - Rome - in 1933.
Ansedonia and the ancient Roman town “Cosa”
At the mainland end of the Feniglia tombolo Ansedonia rises above the sandy shore, a green contrast to the darker Mediterranean maquis of the Feniglia.
On top of the hill are the evocative ruins of Archaeological Area of Cosa, Roman colony founded in 273 BC, perhaps on land confiscated from the Etruscans. Its strategic position allowed to control the sea and land flow. Cosa seems to have prospered until it was sacked in the 60s BC, perhaps by pirates. Today is an important archaeological site in Maremma. The coastline is steep and rocky: “la Tagliata” is a canal cut in the rock in Roman times, still visible; and “lo Spacco della Regina” is a natural cleft in the rock on which the sunlight produces fantastic light and shade effects.
Walking in Tuscany | Lago di Burano and Tombola di Feniglia | Walking in Tuscany, itineraries between sea and mountains
Monte Argentario was probably an island that gradually became joined to the main coast as the accumulated detritus deposited by rivers and the sea formed the two tombolos of the Feniglia and the Giannella. Archaeological finds from the Grotta degli Stretti and Cala dei Santi show that the area was settled by humans in very early times. At least 10 caves are known to have been lived in, one of which, the Grand Duke’s Cave (la Grotta del Granduca, named after Leopold of Lorraine who sponsored its excavation), is almost a mile in length and even has a small lake about 50 yards from the entrance. The peninsula was considered a safe haven by seamen on account of its geographical position in the centre of the Tyrrhenian Sea: it was also strategically placed and became the site of numerous look-out towers to give warning of impending danger from the sea. The threat of invasion was indeed constant and during one memorable incursion in 1544 the pirate Khair ad Din, known as Redbeard, plundered the village of Porto Ercole.
The earliest defence works date from the Bronze Age, but it was only in the XV century A.D. that the Senese Republic started to build a proper defence system encompassing the whole promontory. However, it was the Spanish who, in only a few years, transformed Monte Argentario with a powerful complex of military forts, far greater in number and effectiveness than any others in Tuscany. Thus was the Stato dei Presidi (literally, the Garrison State) founded; it included Orbetello, Porto Ercole, Porto Santo Stefano and Talamone. To these in 1602 was added the stronghold of Porto Longone on the island of Elba. The mountainous peninsula rises to a height of 635 m, and has a rocky coastline. The vegetation is mostly thick Mediterranean maquis alternating with olive groves, vineyards and fruit orchards: it is famous for the dwarf palm, which here grows wild. The rare Ansonico and Riminese varieties of grape are grown in terraced vineyards on the hillsides. Today tourism has replaced fishing as the principal economic activity of the area.
The picturesque town of Porto Ercole with its thriving tourist harbour lies on the eastern coast of Monte Argentario and is dominated by the massive Spanish forts. The nearby marina of Cala Galera attracts large numbers of yachts and pleasure boats with its excellent facilities. The origins and early history of Porto Ercole are hazy, but the name Ercole was probably used by the Etruscans. The recent discovery near Cala Galera of an Etruscan necropolis situated in the thirteenth sector of the Etruscan zodiac, corresponding to the constellation of Hercules, would appear to confirm this.
In the early Middle Ages it belonged to Three Fountains Abbey, together with the rest of the promontory. In the thirteenth century it became the property first of the Aldobrandeschi and then of the Orsini families, before falling to the Senese Republic in 1415. Under the Stato dei Presidi, in 1557, it formed the mainstay of the peninsula’s defence system with its imposing military forts. In 1610 the painter Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio, died alone as a fugitive on a nearby beach, probably of malaria.
Porto Santo Stefano
Situated on the north coast of Monte Argentario, Porto Santo Stefano is the largest town on the peninsula and its administrative centre, as well as a renowned tourist resort. The old and new harbours together are a hub for both business and tourist activities, including a fishing fleet, sailing and ferries linking the port with the islands of Giglio and Giannutri. There are also several small boatyards and shipwrights. The town first developed around the fort after the foundation of the Stato dei Presidi, especially under the governorship of Gilles Nunez Orejon. From the XVIII century onwards families of fishermen from Liguria and Naples started to settle in the town and their descendants still account for a sizeable portion of the population.
The Garden of the Tarots | Capalbio
The Tarot Garden (Il Giardino dei Tarocchi) is an exploration of the human condition whose medium is mosaic on a monumental scale. These almost impossibly brightly coloured combinations of buildings and sculpture reflect the metaphysical qualities represented by the 22 main tarot cards (the major arcane). They’re not concerned with the fortune-telling uses of the cards, rather the elements of life’s experience, personality and self-knowledge they refer to.
Niki de Saint Phalle worked on the garden from 1979 and it was officially opened to the public in May 1998. The Garden of the Tarots seems a museum in the open air completely integrated in the hills of Maremma. Owing to the fragility of sculptures, the magic atmosphere of the garden, the tours are permitted from April to October, in the afternoon. According to Niki de Saint Phalle‘s wish, the itineraries are not pre-established for giving visitors a freedom of action.
The Etruscan city of Vulci (VelX- in Etruscan) lies on the border between Lazio and Tuscany, about fifty miles north-west of Rome. It stood close to the sea on the right bank of the river Fiora, on a plateau of volcanic origin, in an area which is today uninhabited. The National Museum is housed in the Castle of La Badia, where finds from the excavations in the city and necropolis are on display.
Vulci was an important town of the ancient Etruscans, the ruins of which are about 10 miles (16 km) from the sea between the villages of Canino and Montalto di Castro, inViterbo province, Italy. The site, excavated in 1956, has extensive cemeteries and a large network of streets and walls. Vulci grew out of a number of Villanovan villages in the 8th century bc and flourished chiefly in the 6th–4th century bc, largely as a result of trade, the extraction of minerals from nearby Monte Amiata, and the manufacture of bronze jugs and tripods, etc.
Walking in Tuscany | The Naturalistic Archeological Park of Vulci
The Maremma seashore, overlooking the Tirrenian Sea, features some of the most beautiful sand beaches of Tuscany. Some of the most beautiful beaches in Tuscany (Marina di Alberese, Principa a Mare, Cala Violina, Castiglione della Pescaia), are within easy reach of Podere Santa Pia. The Maremma extends into the northern part of Lazio in the province of Viterbo. The sub-region is called the Maremma Laziale, and it has a couple of beaches worth checking out.
Torba extends east of the promontory of Ansedonia. The beach is characterized by sand ranging in color from dark gray to black. Proceeding toward the Lake of Burano and the mouth of Chiarone, the shoreline tends to soften the color and come forward tone between dark gray and gold. The entire stretch of the coastal zone is presented with wild dune vegetation, and Mediterranean retrodunal (macchia).
Chiarone Scalo beach can be reached going from the promontory of the Argentario toward Capalbio Scalo. It has an almost black sand and clear, transparent water. Thick wild scrub and broad dunes encircled the beach.
Capalbio Beaches are Chiarone, Macchiatonda and Capalbio Scalo. The beaches have an almost black sand and clear, transparent water. Thick wild scrub and broad dunes encircled the beach.
The Marina di Montalto near the medieval town of Montalto di Castro is a modern tourist resort with hotels, campgrounds, and plenty of beach chairs to rent for the day. Further south, Tarquinia, which is known for its Archeological Museum of local Etruscan finds, also has a seaside area with similar facilities to Marina di Montalto.
The most beautiful beaches of Tuscany | From Principina a Mare to Ansedonia