The marvels of the Giardino dei Tarocchi: somewhere between dream and reality

A park of brightly-coloured exoteric statues immersed in the enchantment of the lower Grosseto Maremma area just 10 minutes from the seas of Capalbio.  Anyone who has visited and fallen in love with Gaudì’s Parque Guell in Barcelona or the more…

A park of brightly-coloured exoteric statues immersed in the enchantment of the lower Grosseto Maremma area just 10 minutes from the seas of Capalbio. 

Anyone who has visited and fallen in love with Gaudì’s Parque Guell in Barcelona or the more local Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo will be pleased to hear that there is another park, in Tuscany: lost in the infinite horizon of the lower Tuscan Maremma area, the Giardino dei Tarocchi glows with its statues, mirrors and mosaics.  

Conceived from Niki de Saint Phalle’s seemingly impossible dreamthe Garden is a hugely successful tourist destination suitable for adults and children alike. But beware: it is only open half days from April to October.  

Alcune delle sculture al suo interno

Alcune delle sculture al suo interno

There are twenty-two large statues hiding in the park’s dense vegetation, all inspired by the figures of the Major Arcana of tarot cards. Some, such as the High Priestess and the Magician, rise unshyly from the main square; you can catch glimpses of others as you wander further into the two striking hectares of land that act as a backdrop to the scene. Others are set up as dwellings for the builders involved in the project  including Niki herself, obviously.

They are made of steel and cement and covered in glassmirrors and coloured ceramicsEach visit is pervaded by a sense of absolute enchantment, mystery and esotericism.  

Le sculture

Le sculture

Niki dedicated all her energy to the Garden. Building started in 1977, and continued for more than seventeen years. Many worked together to make its construction possible, including employees, a team of famous artists and enthusiastic citizens.  

La forza

La forza

In 1997, Niki de Saint Phalle established the Il Giardino dei Tarocchi Foundation with the aim of preserving and maintaining her own work. On 15th May 1998, the Giardino dei Tarocchi was opened to the public; however, as you wander the park you will notice that some works have not been terminated and, in fact, one statue remains incomplete: work stopped upon the artist’s death in 2002. One of her most curious wishes was to completely prohibit guided tours of the park, leaving the garden open to the free interpretation of its visitors.  

Undoubtedly the best way to reflect on the sculptures and their mysteries is while sipping a glass of good Tuscan wine on a terrace in Capalbio while admiring the sunset, the colourful houses and the horizon, taking a piece of the magic of the garden and making it one’s own. 

Una vista panoramica dal paese di Capalbio

Una vista panoramica dal paese di Capalbio

Opening times 

From 1st April to 15th October, Mon-Sun from 2:30pm to 7:30pm 

Entrance fee 

Full ticket € 12.00  Reduced € 7.00 

Free entrance to children under seven and people with disabilities 

Interactive map

How to reach

some photos

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Baratti: Buca delle Fate, Trekking and bathing in the legend

Along the trekking trails that lead to one of the most beautiful bays in Tuscany, surrounded by Mediterranean scrub, crags and bewitching songs. As intimate as it is enchanting, the…

Along the trekking trails that lead to one of the most beautiful bays in Tuscany, surrounded by Mediterranean scrub, crags and bewitching songs.

As intimate as it is enchanting, the Buca delle Fate is a tiny inlet in the Maremma coast. The bay is a break in the splendid Etruscan Coast: its rocky walls overlook the sea, wedged between its crystalline waters, created by the salt and the wind and softened by the seductive song of the Sirens.

This tiny lost paradise, soaked in charm and history, can be found near the ancient village of Populonia in Piombino, a little less than an hour’s drive from Punta Ala.

Sul sentiero verso Buca delle Fate.

Sul sentiero verso Buca delle Fate.

Legend has it that these places were inhabited by strange creatures and sirens who, with their charm and melodious song, bewitched the fishermen who cut through the waters of the bay, to capture them and prevent their return to the mainland. Similar legends and other fantastic stories gave this enchanting land an equally enchanting name – Buca delle Fate (Fairy’s Grotto).

An inlet so fascinating as to appear difficult to reach. Nothing could be further from the truth, or so pleasing. Immersed in a beautiful holly oak wood and typical Mediterranean scrubland, which in the spring blossoms perfumes and colour, you can reach the Buca delle Fate with an easy 20 minute trek by foot.

Cala San Quirico

Cala San Quirico

Trekking to the Buca delle Fate

Following the road that leads to Populonia Alta and just under a kilometre from here, to your left you will find a dirt track car park where you can leave your car, in “Il Reciso”.

At the beginning to the dirt track next to the car park a signpost directs you to the various paths, including the one to the Buca delle Fate. Coasting the carpark, turn right at the first two junctions. You should follow track 301 CAI which leads unambiguously to the beautiful bay which is especially magical at sunset.

First, however, we cross a piece of history emblazoned with the Etruscan touch: along the way you will find the underground tombs of a necropolis built over the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 2nd centuries BC. Continuing, the wood opens up onto shrub land and immediately onto breath-taking views over the sea and the coast.

And here you are treated to the spectacle of the Buca delle Fate, where you can relax and enjoy sublime landscapes, accompanied by the whisper of the sea or even, perhaps, the sirens themselves.

In prima fila per il tramonto su Buca delle Fate.

In prima fila per il tramonto su Buca delle Fate.

The return journey may take up to around ten minutes more than the way out due to the easy climb. Alternatively, you can take a loop to return to the car park, extending the trek and also increasing the climb but only by a little; by doing so you will also pass the splendid adjacent bay of Cala San Quirico.

From the Buca delle Fate, you take track 302 that descends along the coastline and coincides for a stretch with the Via dei Cavalleggeri.

In just a few minutes you are at Cala San Quirico, where perhaps you can even enjoy a relaxing swim. To return, take the path at the beginning of the bay that winds through the vegetation: the path climbs, leading us back to our departure point. A typical local dinner is the perfect way to end the day before returning to sleep under the stars.

Download here the itinerary to Buca delle Fate

Return Itinerary Buca delle Fate

  • Distance: 2.0 km
  • Altitude: 108 metres above sea level
  • Difficulty level: easy

Loop Itinerary Buca delle Fate – Cala San Quirico

  • Distance: 2.4 km
  • Altitude: 115 metres
  • Difficulty level: easy

Recommended equipment: trekking or sports shoes, min. 1.5 lt. water bottle, min. 20 lt. rucksack, bathing costume.

il Reciso car park, trekking departure point

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Populonia and the Baratti Gulf: azure waters and red sands

Splendid horizons and traces of history for a weekend spent outdoors on the Etruscan coast. A magical village overlooking the sea and back to the remotest of pasts. This is…

Splendid horizons and traces of history for a weekend spent outdoors on the Etruscan coast.

A magical village overlooking the sea and back to the remotest of pasts. This is Populonia, an influential city of ancient Etruria, a decisive focal point of Italian civilisation.

Beyond the impenetrable fifteenth-century city walls blows a salty wind from faraway: Populonia is the only Etruscan city on the coast, as unique as the atmosphere that you can relive wandering its alleyways and admiring the horizon from its ancient walls.

Panorami che sconfinano oltre l’orizzonte del mare.

Panorami che sconfinano oltre l’orizzonte del mare.

On the northern point of the Piombino promontory, Populonia dominates the Baratti Gulf and its splendid beach, the perfect place for a dip in the summer but also luxuriant with vegetation that is home to wild fauna.

Not only this, but it is also a migration resting place of a very rare and protected species. Walking around the pines and beech woods you can catch a glimpse of bizarre-looking, long-beaked birds with iridescent plumage. It is the northern bald ibis that flies over the area and sometimes stops here, so it is not unusual to see it on the lovely fields next to the beach.

I colori del golfo di Baratti all’imbrunire.

I colori del golfo di Baratti all’imbrunire.

Nature and ancient history meld together in Populonia and the surrounding area and you can have a fully immersive experience in both here. The beach is just a walk away from the archaeological areas.

The acropolis can be found in Populonia Alta – reachable by both car and foot – while the necropolises are scattered in different sites of the promontory and the gulf. These traces of Etruscan civilization are part of the Parco Archeologico di Baratti e Populonia where you can wander among the well-preserved testimonies of populated cities and ports.

Dalla torre la vista spazia sulla costa del golfo di Baratti

Dalla torre la vista spazia sulla costa del golfo di Baratti

Rambling through the cliff-edge history of Populonia you may be inspired to take a dip in the intense blue waters off this stretch of the Tuscan coast. Baratti beach is a long tongue of red sand that can be found in the gulf of the same name, against which sweet waves of clear blue gently lap.

The sea-beds are densely-populated by water flora and fauna, perfect for snorkelling and for children to swim in thanks to the gently increasing depths. The striking, characteristic colour of the sand is due to the residues of the metalwork activities of the Etruscans who, at the time, monopolized the iron trade: this area was home to many furnaces where metal was worked.

The luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation embraces the sands, and its pinewoods offer a welcome break from the sun; it borders the archaeological park and is also equipped with a catering service, stretches of beach resorts and a car park.

La spiaggia del golfo di Baratti.

La spiaggia del golfo di Baratti.

For all those looking to take a dip in crystalline waters surrounded by uncontaminated nature, discovering sheer cliffs and breath-taking views, the Buca delle Fate is the ideal destination. A short, easy trek, allowing us also to take in some examples of Etruscan underground tombs, and we arrive at the splendid, intimate bay.

From Popolonia, you can reach both Baratti and the Buca delle Fate in just a few minutes by car, for a refreshing end to one or more days in the Etruscan world.

What to see in Populonia:

  • The tower of Populonia; you can climb onto the walls and admire a bird’s-eye view over the Baratti Gulf and the Val di Cornia.
  • The Museo Etrusco and the private collection of the Gasparri family.
  • The Populonia Acropolis.
  • The San Cerbone Necropolis and the Grotte necropolis.
  • The Monastery of San Quirico; located near the Buca delle Fate immersed in the vegetation.
  • The “Davide Mancini” Experimental Archaeological Centre, home to the reconstruction of a Bronze Age hut.

Parco Archeologico di Baratti e Populonia

Where to sleep: Puntala Camp & Resort

How to reach:

SOME PHOTOS

 

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Restaurant Gli Attortellati: typical, 0 km cuisine

One of the most renowned agricultural companies in Tuscany. In the Grosseto Maremma area, traditional flavours reflecting local agricultural know-how in organic and gluten-free versions.  Cuisine: Tuscan  Typical dish: Home-made tortelli Products: organic, 0 km, meat…

One of the most renowned agricultural companies in Tuscany. In the Grosseto Maremma area, traditional flavours reflecting local agricultural know-how in organic and gluten-free versions. 

  • Cuisine: Tuscan 
  • Typical dish: Home-made tortelli
  • Products: organic, 0 km, meat and cold cuts, vegetarian and gluten free options
  • Prince range: €24 – €30 per person
  • Opening times: Tuesday-Friday: dinner from 7:30pm – Saturday: lunch from 1:00pm, dinner from 8:00 – Sunday: lunch from 1:00pm
  • Mood: Rural, friendly, family atmosphere

Not far from Castiglione della Pescaia is a place that is famous even beyond local borders, whose wholesomeness has contributed to exporting the excellence and abundance of the typical Maremma cuisine with its flavours and famous Tortelli. 

Immersed in nature a mere 2km from the last inhabited settlement, Gli Attortellati is a veritable jewel of rural catering. 

Leaving the Aurelia Antica Shopping Mall follow the Strada della Trappola, enjoying the view until you reach a signpost half-covered by eucalyptus that points the way to your destination. 

Eccoci arrivati all'ingresso

Eccoci arrivati all’ingresso

The restaurant seems to originate from a completely different century, but in fact was only established in 1999. And guess what? It is family-run!

It was started by Grazia and Carlo, whose traditional know-how is perfectly reflected in their strict organic regime: everything is cooked on wood fires; jams, bread, pasta and desserts are all home-made; the cold cuts are produced from home-grown pigs cross-bred with Cinta Senese. Today the farm and restaurant are run by the couple’s five children (Massimiliano, Cristina, Simone, Aurora and Nicola) who boast a professional kitchen, wine cellar cared for by the house sommelier Ais and an infinity of new ideas that are constantly being developed. 

Al lavoro con la pasta fatta in casa

Al lavoro con la pasta fatta in casa

Gli Attortellati is a “zero metres” restaurant. As soon as you step out into the carpark you can see the enormous vegetable garden that is the prime source of a daily supply of ingredients, from vegetables to aromatic herbs. Just beyond are the animal breeding areas and the orchard. All products that can then be found on the country home-laid tables. 

Another particularity is the layout of the menu: a sort of Maremma-style all you can eat made up of nine dishes: four starters, two pasta dishes, one main course with side and dessert. 

Price: € 30.00 per person, drinks excluded. 

I famosi Tortelli maremmani

I famosi Tortelli Maremmani

Gli Attortellati also has a number of much-appreciated services on offer: 

  • reduced menus; 
  • gluten free; 
  • vegetarian cuisine; 
  • children’s menu. 

Dogs are welcome if kept on a lead! If you tell us you wish to bring your dog while booking we will find you a table where your four-legged friend will have more space to roam around undisturbed. 

Contacts

Telefono: 0564-400059, 328-4572663

How to reach:

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