Sansone Elba best top must see must-see southern Tuscany beach beaches Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy

Top 5 southern Tuscany beaches

 

It’s middle August and it’s time to talk about my personal chart of best southern Tuscany beaches!

Even though I still haven’t visited all southern Tuscany beaches I wish to, I’m feeling ready to write down my own list of the beaches I’ve been so far. Take this as a work-in-progress post!

1. Cala Violina

best top must see must-see southern Tuscany beach beaches Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy
Cala Violina, near Scarlino

It’s hard to say which beach is really the best, but I put this beach on top because of its shallow crystal clear waters, its white sand and the totally natural surroundings. In fact, there’s only one way to reach Cala Violina: walking through Bandite natural reserve’s pine woods. It’s a pleasant 15-20 minute walk with few ups and downs. So, once you get to the parking (it costs 7€ for the full-day stay) wear comfortable shoes and bring some water and food with you, as you won’t any bar: a street food truck only, from June to September, which are not the months I suggest to visit this beach. I suggest to get there during the last days of May or in late September/ early October. In October you will bathe for sure because the water will be still warm. The legend of its name it’s the plus that makes this beach win over others: thanks to its half moon shape, the woods at its back and the size of the grains of the sand, walking in some points you’ll be able to hear a romantic violins-like sound!

2. Sansone beach

best top must see must-see southern Tuscany beach beaches Sansone Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy
Sansone beach in Elba island

This beach is located in Elba island. That means it takes an hour cruise on the ferry boat to reach Portoferraio from Piombino, plus a 10 minute drive (most of the time you won’t find a park in the park lot, because it’s very small, so you have to park on the side of the road) plus a 15 minute walk on a not paved winding path! But I can assure it will be worth it. Sansone is s big white pebbles beach surrounded by white cliffs. Thanks to the colour of these stones, the water colour changes from a clear turquoise to a stunning blue the more it gets deep. On the right side of the beach there is a big rock with a little cave inside, so be sure to bring your mask with you, because it’s full of sea life there! The beach is partly equipped with sun chairs and sun umbrellas for rent. There is a bar at La Sorgente beach, which is the first beach you meet before arriving at Sansone.

3. Cala di Forno 

Cala di Forno beach, at Maremma Natural Park

This is my home beach! But the harder to reach, even for me. The easier way to get there is by private bus, only available in July and August. You take this bus in Collecchio and it stops 30 meters from the beach. It costs 30 euros for a day long stay (9am-6pm). Before becoming a natural reserve dedicated to wildlife preservation, Maremma Natural Park was a private estate. A huge villa faces Cala di Forno beach and her owner is used to feed the deers coming from the woods all around. So it isn’t hard to find deers on the beach. They are quite smart and hungry, so never let your food out of your sight! Except for the villa, there is absolutely nothing there: no toilets (you can’t enter the private villa, of course) and no bars. Another way to reach the beach is by foot trough a 3 hours’ (yes! 6 hours of walking in total) easy, not paved path. You reach the itinerary starting point by bus. From mid June to mid September, you must be accompanied by a guide of the Park. The tour (minimum 6 people) must be booked in advance and takes 9 hours in total. I did it in a warm december day, without the Park guide and it took 6 hours (plus one hour spent at the beach). Dogs are not allowed all year round.

4. Cala del Gesso

Cala del Gesso Argentario best top must see must-see southern Tuscany beach beaches Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy
Cala del Gesso beach at Argentario

It’s hard to say which Argentario beach is the most beautiful, so I chose Cala del Gesso because of the 16th-century Spanish tower ruins you can admire there. It’s a little beach, not easy to reach: you have to park on the side of the road and then go down some “stairs” and a downhill path in the pine woods. So, once again, remember to wear comfortable shoes and to take food and water with you. Don’t forget your mask: Cala del Gesso it’s a great place for snorkelling!

5. Cala dello Smeraldo

Cala dello Smeraldo best top must see must-see southern Tuscany beach beaches Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy
Cala dello Smeraldo in Giglio island

Giglio island would definitely deserve a dedicated post. Few people know this little gem off the coast of Argentario, in the very southern point of the Tuscan Archipelago. You get there after an hour’s cruise from Porto Santo Stefano. Once there, since the island isn’t so big, I suggest you to rent a boat or take a taxi boat and reach the little “coves” (cale) like Cala dello Smeraldo (“Emerald Cove”) which is only an example. Thanks to its off the beaten touristic tracks position (most of the tourist go to Elba island) and the fact that there aren’t many easy places for passing by boats to anchor (Campese bay only, I think) the underwater sea life is still perfectly preserved. Sadly, the 2012 Costa Concordia cruise ship accident endangered this hidden paradise, but now the ship wreck has been totally removed.

 

Rocche southern Tuscany Maremma Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利 travelblogger travel trip

Le Rocche

This post is about four villages in southern Tuscany placed along the same super panoramic road: Montemassi, Roccatederighi, Sassofortino and Roccastrada. An easy itinerary that will let you enjoy the medieval atmosphere and stunning views.

Montemassi

Montemassi is the first you meet, if you’re coming from north. This is a tiny lovely village I’ve visited during the “alive paintings” exibition.

Montemassi Rocche southern Tuscany Maremma Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利 travelblogger travel trip
Montemassi

The partly ruined old castle located on the top of the hill gives this village an unique charm.

Rocche southern Tuscany Maremma Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利 travelblogger travel trip
Sant’Andrea Apostolo church faces the countryside around Montemassi

Roccatederighi

Just a 15 minute drive and you’ll reach Roccatederighi. Its name comes from the Tererigi family that was the owner of the village during middle ages (lucky them!). Rocca means fortress, but it’s also an ancient word referring to roccia, rock. You can easily notice that Rocche villages are all built of stone taken from the rocks their hills are made of.

Roccatederighi Rocche southern Tuscany Maremma Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利 travelblogger travel trip
San Martino church and the rocks behind it, on the very top of the hill. Climbing those rocks you can enjoy a stunning view over southern Tuscany countryside and the Tyrrenian sea.

Sassofortino

Just 4 chilometres more and you’ll reach Sassofortino. Sasso= stone. Forte= fort. Sassofortino means “little Sassoforte”. Sassoforte castle was located on the very top of the hill.  Just as my home village Montiano the castle and the village that surrounded it were destroyed during late middle ages battles (only few ruins are left) and people has moved to a nearby place. The new village was smaller that the old one, so they called it “little Sassoforte”.

Rocche southern Tuscany Maremma Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利 travelblogger travel trip
Sassofortino is the “new”  Sassoforte village

Roccastrada 

The last one is Roccastrada, 8 chilometres from Sassofortino. Rocca= rock. Strada= street. It is the biggest of the Rocche villages. It’s actually a little town, so the town hall it’s here. The clock tower stands on the roofs of the houses made of stone, sourrounded by rock spurs. There is also a 19th century theatre here, called Teatro dei Concordi.

Roccastrada Rocche southern Tuscany Maremma Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利 travelblogger travel trip
Roccastrada

This is the last stop of the Rocche itinerary. It only takes 30 minutes to go from Montemassi to Roccastrada and vice versa. This could be an half-day trip, but I’m pretty sure you will spend more time driving slowly from a village to the next one, enjoying every stop and the curvy road between each stop!

Roccastrada Rocche southern Tuscany Maremma Toscana Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利 travelblogger travel trip
Panoramic spot in Roccastrada
Castiglione della Pescaia southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利

Castiglione della Pescaia

Castiglione della Pescaia (“Castiglioni” for locals) is a pittoresque coastal village located in a very strategic position: on a hilltop, near the estuary of Bruna river, that has been transformed into an harbour. So people who lived there were safe from the diseases of the surrounding wetlands (an area has been preserved after reclamation and is now the “Diaccia Botrona” natural reserve) and could safely trade in goods.

Casa Rossa Ximenes Castiglione della Pescaia southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利
Casa Rossa Ximenes, the symbol of the massive reclamation that started in 1700s and ended after WW2, now in the middle of a natural reserve.

Its name comes from the word “castello” (castle) that is still there, on the very hill top. The castle is easy to recognize, as its walls are huge. The bell tower of San Giovanni Battista‘s Church has been built upon one of the castle’s towers.

Castiglione della Pescaia southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利

Around the castle there are several stone alleys. Here every house is well maintained and decorated, which makes this village a popular destination specially during summertime.

Castiglione della Pescaia southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利
The harbour

Crystal water beaches nearby are sandy and easy to reach, surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation and pine trees.

Castiglione della Pescaia southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利
Rocchette fort seen from Castiglione

Characteristic village + stunning beaches may sound like the perfect mix, but keep in mind that this area can get very crowded during summertime!

Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利

Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno

Another land art site that is definetely worth a visit while exploring southern Tuscany is Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno (“Return trip garden”) by the italian artist Rodolfo Lacquaniti.

Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana mmm
Fist sculptures you find entering the garden

Walking through this olive grove the return trip to your childhood is assurated, just like happens while visiting Tarot Garden but Lacquaniti’s garden is completely different: not colorfull as Niki de Saint Phalle’s one, because his sculptures are made with 100% recycled materials (iron, glass, sheet metal, wood…) deteriorated by time and weather. Each piece of the sculptures tell a story and Lacquaniti is able to tell you exacltly where he got that piece from (all within 100 kilometres). Yes, because I visited this garden with Lacquaniti in person!

Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利
Steel and wood are the main materials used in the Garden

Born in Calabria, southern Italy, he moved to Florence first, where he was an “ordinary” architect, and then to southern Tuscany in 2002, after buying this piece of land and an old farm house he renewed following his inspiration according to sustainable architecture canons.

Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利
The artist’s farm house facing the Garden

The environment theme is central in Lacquaniti’s work: his sculptures are a critique to the materialist consumerism as it interferes with the connection between men and nature.

Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利
20 metres long sheet metal whale

In his garden, the pieces of an industrial world that seem inappropriate and even obsolete in a rural context like that, are used for restoring peace between men and nature.Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利Giardino Viaggio di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti land art in southern Tuscany Italy Toskana イタリア Италия 意大利

You can visit the Garden with the artist during springtime weekends. Reaching the park is quite easy, but there are not many signs on the road. Anyway, Rodolfo is at your disposal for giving you directions at the phone! Ticket costs 15€.

Tarot GardenToscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利

Tarot garden

My garden is a metaphysical and meditative place, a place far from the crowds and the pressing of time, where it is possible to taste its many beauties and the esoteric meanings of the sculptures. A place that makes your eyes and hearts rejoice.
I believe no words can describe the Tarot Garden better than those written by its creator, the french artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
She was inspired by Gaudì’s Park Guell while visiting Barcellona, then she found the perfect place where her artistic project could be realized: the hills near Capalbio, in the very south of Tuscany.
She bought a piece of land and gave birth to a magnificent example of land art by building 22 sculptures representing the major arcana of tarot divination.
Tarot GardenToscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利
Fountain
Some sculpture is human size big, some is as big as a house: in fact, the Empress is actually a house where Niki and her husband (who was also an artistused to live during the creation of the Garden, and as all the sculptures in the Garden, it’s entirely covered with glass and ceramic mosaic pieces (even inside!).
Tarot Garden Toscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利
The Empress
I think this simbol-filled garden represents the essence of southern Tuscany: it’s a place that can bring happiness and joy with its colors and light, but at the same time it’s a quiet path that helps you exploring your inner side trought meditation.

Tarot Garden Toscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利

The Garden is open every day from april first to october 15th (2:30 pm – 7:30 pm). Entrance ticket costs 12€. During wintertime it opens the first saturday of every month (9 am – 1 pm) FREE ENTRANCE!

 

Toscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利

Montiano

I think it’s time to talk about my home village, Montiano. Just like Montepescali, Montiano is placed on the top of an hill and has a stunning 360° view. The main, one way road encircles the downtown village, so you can see what’s all around from every point. In the south side, there is a belvedere facing the other hills and the sea: Argentario mountain and Orbetello lagoon.

view from Montiano Toscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利
south view from Montiano

Formerly, Montiano was placed on a different knoll, but after senesi invaded it, people moved to the current site. There was a castle also, but sadly nothing but few ruins is left of the ancient Montiano village.

The stone walls encircle the village center, were there is a main square, Piazza Plebiscitowhere you can see the curch dedicated to St. John (San Giovanni Battista) and the clock tower. Both the bell tower of the church and the clock tower are visible kilometers away.

On the other side of downtown Montiano here is a second church, littler and recently renovated: St. Joseph. That’s my favourite one.

St. Joseph church chiesa San Giuseppe Montiano Toscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利
St. Joseph church

From Montiano it takes only 15 minutes by car to reach the sea and 20 minutes by car to reach Grosseto town. So it was less hard for me to move there from Rome because that’s the same time I needed when I had to go from a neighborhood to another neighborhood! I don’t feel isolated at all here.

Montiano Toscana southern Tuscany Toskana тоскана Italy Italia イタリア Италия 意大利

 

 

The Big Whale Bagni di San Filippo free thermal springs in southern Tuscany

Bagni di San Filippo

In southern Tuscany we know how to unwind, and we like it even more if it’s for free!

One of the things that makes me happiest during autumn or wintertime, is definetely a trip to Bagni di San Filippo, my favourite natural wellness center.

Locted halfway between Orvieto and Siena, in the stunning Val d’Orcia, this place is not hard to reach, because it’s close to the provincial road. In the village of San Filippo there’s the spa named Terme di San Fillippo, but not far from there, in the woods, there is a place called Fosso Bianco: many white rocks made of sulfur and calcium created natural pools filled with thermal warm water. You can access this area for free! The biggest of those rocks is called Balena Bianca, white whale. During wintertime, you can see the steam on its surface.

Bagni di San Filippo southern Tuscany white whale
Balena bianca

After relaxig in this stunning place, don’t forget you’re only 15 minutes from San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza: both those towns are worth a visit!

 

Montepescali village southern Tuscany

Montepescali

Montepescali village is very easy to reach, because it is located close to the State road (SS1) exit, not far from Grosseto.

Montepescali hilltop village southern Tuscany
Montepescali

It’s an hilltop village, that means that  you can admire a stunning panorama from there, especially at the lookout that faces south.

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The  village has medieval origins and it’s built almost completely in stone and bricks. Here we can find the typical elements of the medieval village, an heritage of the Roman camp: high walls all around, two doors and the cassero, a gatehouse-tower built with bricks close to one door. From castrum comes the word cassero first, and castello (castle) then.

Montepescali hilltop village southern Tuscany
Mosaic

 

San Galgano abbey Siena southern Tuscany

San Galgano abbey

This stunning abbey, halfway between Grosseto and Siena, is in Gothic style and it was the first gothic style abbey to be built in Tuscany.

Its peculiar, as you can easily see, is that the ceiling is missing. It was built between 1218 and 1288 by the Cistercian monks.

It took almost a century to be finished!

 

San Galgano abbey  Siena southern Tuscany

But how comes the ceiling is missing? In 1786 a lightning struck the bell tower which collapsed onto the roof. The abbey is now deconsacrated.

 

Entrance ticket costs 3,50€ per person and it allows you to visit the abbey, the museum and the Eremo di Montesiepi (5 minutesby foot) where you can admire the famous sword in the stone left by Galgano Guidotti.

 

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countryside in south Tuscany. Vine lines wine production süden Toskana

10 reasons why southern Tuscany is worth a dedicated visit

There’s a Paradise between Florence and Rome. In this post I tell you why.

1. Nature

Southern Tuscany is a wild region. There are so many natural parks and protected areas! That’s because less than 500.000 people live here. There are only two cities (Siena and Grosseto) and many lilttle villages. As you leave a village, there are woods and fields as far as the eye can see, so isn’t hard to see wild animals while hiking or driving.

2. Food

I know it’s almost impossible not to eat tasty food in Italy, but food in the south of Tuscany is really good! Every recipe comes from the rural tradition. This means that each ingredient is local and genuine. Handmade pasta and homemade sweets, local meat and fish. Pizza, of course. And cheeses, lot of cheeses!

Scansano village in southern Tuscany südliche Toskana süden
Scansano

3. Wine

Southern Tuscany wines are famous worldwide. Wine is produced in this area since ancient times. From Ciliegiolo vine is produced the homonymous red wine. From San Giovese vine come red wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti Classico and Morellino di Scansano. White wines are Ansonica, Vernaccia and Vermentino.

4. Beaches

There are so many beaches in Southern Tuscany, both sandy and rocky. You can choose between a beach with services (umbrellas, showers, bar) or a totally wild beach. At Maremma Natural Park I saw a fox on the beach! Sea water is tourquoise everywhere and warm until late october. Check out my personal Top 5 southern Tuscany beaches chart!

Cala di Gesso Argentario Southern Tuscany beach südliche Toskana süden strand Strände
Cala del Gesso beach

5. Relax

Relax is the regional sport in southern Tuscany 🙂 That’s why so many people move to this area when they retire. Little cities means no traffic. People are never in a hurry and always have a smile on their face. Being happy and relaxed it’s easy when you can freely acces a stunning beach or a natural pool filled with sulphureous water!

6. Sports

Sporty people would never get bored in southern Tuscany. Here you can practice almost every outdoor sport: hiking, climbing, biking, horse riding, archery, golf, sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing, and during winter time, skiing and snowboarding!

7. Villages

Little villages are the pearls of southern Tuscany. Most of the time, only few hundred people live in each village. Stone made streets and stone buildings are so charming! The central square (where you find the church and its belltower) is the place where most of things happen. Southern Tuscany is a hilly territory and villages are always on the top of the hill: that means stunning 360 degrees views! Check out my posts about Montiano,  Castiglione della Pescaia, Montepescali or le Rocche villages!

8. Archeological areas

People live in the southest part of Tuscany since ancient times. Before Romans, Etruscan lived here.  The name Tuscany comes from them. So isn’t hard to find streets, ruins of buildings, temples and aqueducts built more than 2500 years ago!

romancity ruins in southern Tuscany südlich süden Toskana
Cosa

9. Art

Many artists have been inspired by the south of Tuscany, and many of them decided to move here. Local artisans are artists too! Handcrafts they make are made with such a passion that I would define it as pieces of art. Their workshops always deserve a visit.

10. People

They may be the last of my list, but southern Tuscany people are special. They are so welcoming and would do anything to help you as you were one member of their family. But remember to never ever say or do something that could offend them! They are quite touchy… their frankness may seem a bit rude sometimes, but once you learn how to relate to them, it ain’t a problem anymore.

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