The beaches of the Maremma
The uncontaminated nature characterizing La Maremma will stay with you side by side up to the sea.
The unregimented beaches or hidden coves, but also the entry points easily accessible by car, are always surrounded by green Mediterranean scrub or by the huge pine-trees offering fragrance and shade.
The coast-line gives to lovers of the sea a vast choice of opportunities: from beaches equipped with every comfort to rocky coves reachable only on foot or, why not, by hiring a comfortable rubber motor dinghy.
Here is a list of several of them:
Along the Scarlino coastline, with Cala Violina
The pathway to Scarlino’s coves (8km passable only on foot, on horseback or by bike) starts out from Portiglioni, after the Marina di Scarlino tourist port.
Here the green of the Mediterranean thicket and the iridescent blue of the sea will keep you company: from here, on a clear day, your gaze will roam as far as the Island of Elba and sometimes behind it to the mountains of Corsica.
The first access to the sea, after a roughly 2 km pathway, is to Cala Le Donne (with pebbles and no facilities). Continuing along the coast you will come to the monument in honour of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who embarked here on a fishing boat to escape the papal guards: opposite the monument a narrow lane leads down to Cala Martina, this too with pebbles and without services, but whose sea-beds offer deep and exciting enjoyment to keen snorkelers.
Another 2 km walk will take you to the more famous Cala Violina, which owes its name to its “singing” sand, a feature possessed by very few beaches worldwide. (Babadejuka, Eigg Islands, Fort Dauphin, Gold Coast): with Mediterranean scrub reaching down to the beach and its crystalline waters Cala Violina it celebrated as one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy.
During high season this reputation causes such an influx of visitors that it is impossible to enjoy its beauty and, even less, to hear the sound of violins whispered by the grains of sand when disturbed by passers-by.
If you are here in the most overcrowded periods I suggest you reach it very early in the morning or, if otherwise, late in the afternoon.
The last 2 kms along the coastline will take you to Cala Civette which, like Cala Violina boasts white sand and transparent sea-beds. The, mouth of the river Alma separates the last of Scarlino’s southern beaches from the Punta Ala seashore.
A more convenient access from Portiglioni is from the toll-pay parking area on the State Road 158 “delle Collacchie”. From this point a roughly 20 minute walk through green Mediterranean vegetation will lead you first of all to Cala Violina.
- Access from Portiglioni does not offer many nearby parking possibilities;
- all the beaches are free;
- during the summer there is a temporary refreshment facility at Cala Violina.
To the North, in the Gulf of Follonica
Beyond the town of Follonica is the Parco Costiero della Sterpaia, a long seashore both with free beaches and well-equipped beaches, parking areas (toll-pay) and refreshment stalls.
There are several access points : Torre Mozza, Carbonifera, Mortelliccio and Perelli.
Facing you is the Island of Elba and at your back, the pine-forest in case you need a little shade.
Beyond the Gulf, towards the Costa degli Etruschi (Coast of the Etruscans)
Populonia, a very ancient Etruscan city overlooks the Gulf of Baratti with sandy beaches and pine copses. Here the sea-bed is a treasure-trove of flora and fauna. Dive down and unexpected colours will appear, like the red of the Etruscan iron artefacts.
From the road climbing towards Populonia, from the “Reciso” the 301 pathway (3.5 kms) begins, arriving at the Buca delle Fate (Fairy Hollow), a paradise for lovers of the unbridled sea.
The path first crosses the Mediterranean scrub, then a holm-oak wood (where you will come across a few Etruscan tombs) and at last opens up through aromatic bushes onto the strangely shaped reefs sculpted by the sea. Once past the pebbles you will be able find a rock to make yourself at home.
- There is a parking area both for the Baratti beach and for Buca delle Fate.
- You are inside the Baratti and Populonia Archeological Park and behind the beach there is an important Etruscan tomb site.
- While you are there, take a walk as far as Populonia
Punta Ala beach
From the mouth of the river Alma up to the town centre of Punta Ala, there is a long sandy shore with stretches of free beach and others with bathing establishments. Like most of the beaches in the area it is separated from the road by an extensive pine forest.
The Sparviero islet is easily accessible by boat.
Le Rocchette and the Roccamare pine forest
Before the Castiglione della Pescaia pine forest, there is a road leading to the Rocchette beach and, on the overlooking promontory, a fort dating back to the Xll century.
The rocky reef is a paradise for keen snorkelers, with its inlets and coves only accessible by sea; on the wide beach with its crystal-clear waters there are bathing concessions and entries to the nearby camping areas. A few kms stroll towards Castiglione will take you to a less crowded area, at Roccamare.
- In Scarlino, Follonica, Punta Ala you can hire a rubber motor dinghy, also without a license, for the morning, afternoon or the whole day.
- In very-high-season periods, in some areas parking is difficult: consider the option of cycling to the beach. In the renting centres you will also find bikes with assisted pedalling.
- For Kite surfing enthusiasts I recommend the Puntone di Scarlino and Fiumara beaches (to the south towards Grosseto)
Argentario and its shores
There is no Maremma without the promontory of Monte Argentario: a sublime mountain overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, with plenty of inlets and hidden coves. Argentario would almost have the shape of an island, had it not been for two narrow stretches of land that connect it to the mainland. These two zones are amongst the most popular and renown beaches of this area, and they are called Giannella and Dune della Feniglia. Even man played a role in unifying Argentario to the upcountry, building an artificial road that cuts the lagoon of Orbetello into two.
Amongst the most famous beaches along the coast of Argentario the following are recommended:
The beach of Acqua Dolce is a sandy and pebbled half-crescent stretching along the eastern side of Monte Argentario. What makes this inlet special are the colour nuances of the seawater, that go from cobalt blue to emerald green. This beach is the ideal place for those who love diving off a cliff and swimming in deep waters. The best time of the day to visit it is early in the morning, as during the day it tends to be crowded.
Le Cannelle takes its name off the medieval tower that dominates this beach. This inlet is part of the protected area of the park of Maremma. Public, uncontaminated and covered in pebbles, going to le Cannelle equals plunging into sheer, unspoilt nature, a dreamlike place where one can sunbathe on the rocks and enjoy long swims in open water.
Cala del Gesso is one of the hidden marvels of Argentario, as well as one of the hardest to reach in the area. The beach is at the bottom of a trail which descends to sea level (130m below), approximately 800m long. The luckier ones will be able to reach it by sea, diving and swimming into the cobalt-blue waters that wash its shore.
Cala Grande is a beach located on the western slope of Monte Argentario and it is accessible both on foot and by sea. The path to reach this true oasis of Maremma is rather insidious, it takes approximately 25 minute to reach the beach going through shrubland, but the fatigue gets immediately rewarded by the sheer beauty of this place.