Maremma

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Thermal waters and adventure in Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany, Italy

A famous aquatic piazza and an itinerary that leads to ancient mills nestled in the Val d’Orcia hills: discovering the Bagno Vignoni thermal springs  Bagno Vignoni is a symbol of the Val d’Orcia, an almost obligatory destination for spa and nature…

A famous aquatic piazza and an itinerary that leads to ancient mills nestled in the Val d’Orcia hills: discovering the Bagno Vignoni thermal springs 

Bagno Vignoni is a symbol of the Val d’Orcia, an almost obligatory destination for spa and nature tourism along the ancient Via Francigena. 

Life in the tiny village centres round the charming Piazza delle Sorgenti, made up entirely by a large bath of sulphurous water, which over the years has become a symbol of this area and on many occasions has also been used as a film set. The characteristic roads surrounding the square provide quaint corners and incredible views that are a dream for all photographers – though the bath is obviously the undisputed protagonist.

I cipressi della Val d'Orcia

I cipressi della Val d’Orcia

Il minuscolo borgo prende vita intorno alla suggestiva Piazza delle Sorgenti  occupata interamente dalla piscina termale di BagnoVignoni, una grande vasca di acqua sulfurea, che negli anni è diventata un simbolo di questa zona e in diverse occasioni set cinematografico. Le caratteristiche stradine che circondano la piazza le regalano scorci e angolazioni da fotografare, di cui ovviamente la vasca è assoluta protagonista.

Nel cuore di Bagno Vignoni.

Nel cuore di Bagno Vignoni.

Not far from the centre of the village, you can venture out along a short path following the water courses that spring from the bath and flow towards ancient reservoirs. The streams that flow along the walls and rocky lands create grooves and small waterfalls, naturally outlining a path that leads towards the Parco naturale dei Mulini 

 The four medieval-era mills have two unique characteristics: not only, in fact, were they dug out of the rock rather than constructed, but importantly they were the only ones able to work during the summer, when dry rivers impeded the functioning of the other man-made ones. The mills of Bagno Vignoni boasted a strategic position allowing them a constant thermal current, which did not wane during the summer. The only problem that the workers had to deal with was the temperature of the spring – around 50°C.  

Il Parco dei Mulini.

Il Parco dei Mulini.

The flatter and easier return path leads visitors back to the piazza, where you are free to relax and enjoy a bath in one of the full-service thermal structures of Bagno Vignoni. As well as the Parco dei Mulini there are also some free baths, just bear in mind that these waters are not as hot as those in the resorts, as the source is further away. In both cases, it is exciting to think that you are bathing in the same waters that the likes of Lorenzo De’ Medici used to bathe in centuries ago.  

Relax nelle piscine termali dell’hotel.

Relax nelle piscine termali dell’hotel.

Perpetually enveloped by the light mist that rises from the piazza of hot water, Bagno Vignoni is a magical place in a UNESCO World Heritage land; a one-of-a-kind village which, together with Bagni San Filippo can be defined as a thermal jewel of the Val d’Orcia’s hot springs. 

You can complete your tour with a visit to Vignoni Alto: the village is just a few minutes by car from the thermal area and can also be reached by foot along the Via Francigena. The castle and tower dominate the valley and give visitors an incomparable view over the countryside, a breath-taking panorama framed by the beautiful, iconic medieval gate. 

L’ingresso al Parco dei Mulini di bagno Vignoni è gratuito.

Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany, Italy, how to reach

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Sorano and the San Rocco archaeological area

Known as the Matera of Tuscany, the tufa city of Sorano is a treasure chest of history and nature. Rising on a cliff of tufa rock overlooking the narrow valleys below, the…

Known as the Matera of Tuscany, the tufa city of Sorano is a treasure chest of history and nature.

Rising on a cliff of tufa rock overlooking the narrow valleys below, the village of Sorano (Tuscany, Italy) was founded in medieval times as a fief of the noble Aldobrandeschi family, but the territory tells a story that dates back to much further. It was inhabited as long ago as Etruscan times as shown by the many settlements, excavated roads and necropolises found in the area.  

Sorano is located in the so-called Area del Tufo, this splendid part to the south east of the Grosseto Maremma area bordered to the north by Mount Amiata and to the south by the Lazio region, characterised by the presence of tufa rock which is very easy to work and light. Together with Sovana and Pitigliano they make up the three famous Città del Tufo (Tufa Cities). 

Il borgo di Sorano

Il borgo di Sorano

The hilltop village winds along picturesque alleys, homes and handicraft shops, overlooked by the stately Masso Leopoldino; you can enjoy a beautiful view over the village and the surrounding nature from the terrace of this ancient fortified structure which, together with the 14th century Fortezza Orsini, represented Sorano’s main defence system.  

An extraordinary example of military architecture, you cannot miss the chance to visit the Fortezza Orsini, home to the interesting Museum of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and a series of underground ramparts discovering the labyrinth that runs below the village.  

Il Ponte della Fortezza Orsini

Il Ponte della Fortezza Orsini

The area outside of Sorano is full of sites of important archaeological, historical and natural value; the Città del Tufo Archaeological Park has opened them to the public and stretches out to the adjacent areas of Sovana and San Quirico, where you can find the “lost city” of Vitozza.  

Just a few minutes by car from Sovano’s historical city centre, you can find the rocky settlement of San Rocco, which is open to the public for free.  Named after a small chapel dedicated to the saint, the area also features a natural terrace with a spectacular view over the village of Sorano. Immersed in the greenery, it is the departure point for trekking itineraries: from here you can go off to discover flourishing nature, primitive caves, tombs half-hidden in the plants and the impressive excavated roads  part of the ancient Etruscan communication network dug into the tufa and characterised by the steep walls on the side of the road that can reach up to 20 metres in height.  

The route following the San Rocco excavated road starts just behind the San Rocco church, descends to the River Lente valley and in around twenty minutes leads to the ancient entrance to Sorano – the Porta dei Merli, at the very foot of the Masso Leopoldino. 

Via cava di San Rocco

Via cava di San Rocco

With walks among the most fascinating parts of history and excellent places to eat in the historical centre, Sorano also offers moments of pure relaxation. Just four kilometres south of the village you can find hot springs that have been used since ancient times: the Terme di Sorano can be enjoyed in a very pleasant spa and are part of a wider thermal waters context made famous by the nearby hot springs of Saturnia

What to see in Sorano, Tuscany (Italy):

  • The medieval city centre and its fascinating alleys. 
  • The Masso Leopoldino. 
  • The Fortezza Orsini. 
  • The Museum of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 
  • The view and rocky settlement of San Rocco. 
  • The San Rocco excavated road and the Lente valley. 
  • The Terme di Sorano hot springs. 

Parco Archeologico Città del Tufo

Sorano

How to reach:

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Things to do and see in Saturnia and Montemerano

More than just thermal baths; a weekend of history, good food and, above all, relaxation in Maremma, Tuscany. The name Saturnia immediately inspires thoughts of pleasant days of peace and…

More than just thermal baths; a weekend of history, good food and, above all, relaxation in Maremma, Tuscany.

The name Saturnia immediately inspires thoughts of pleasant days of peace and good food, immersed in the hot waters of the springs. But as well as the soothing heat of the baths, the area also offers another type of wellbeing to be experienced in Italy.

Nearby are villages of certain charm, custodians of a long-ago history that has remained surprisingly intact. The villages of Saturnia and Montemerano, in the municipality of Manciano, are just a short car journey from the Saturnia Thermal Baths and are definitely worth a visit to experience another kind of pleasure through their history and genuine flavours.

Le cascate del Mulino

Le cascate del Mulino

The village of Saturnia was first mentioned in a document dating back to around 1200 AD and referring to the castle, the church of Santa Maria Maddalena and the already very popular hot springs. It was first the property of the Aldobrandeschi family, passing subsequently to that of the Orsini family; the same fate as that of the nearby villages known as the Città del Tufo (Tufa Cities): Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana. Similarly, the first settlements date back to the Etruscan era, as shown by the archaeological findings discovered in the area, some of which are kept in the Museum of Archaeology of Saturnia – Manciano – The Albegna hills. Testaments of the village’s history also include the fortified structure of the Rocca Aldobrandesca and Porta Romana: the oldest part of the town walls dating back to Roman times where the ancient Via Clodia passes.

Art and history are fused in Saturnia: as well as being full of bars and restaurants, the heart of the centre, represented by Piazza Vittorio Veneto, is also home to the Pietro Aldi Cultural Centre, a collection of works by the well-known Manciano-born painter as well as a children’s library.

Il polo culturale Pietro Aldi

Il polo culturale Pietro Aldi

Montemerano has an even more characteristic air; listed as one of the Borghi più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Villages in Italy), its historical centre has been kept exactly as it was in medieval times.

A scene of narrow alleyways, ancient buildings and stone houses which catapult visitors to a whole new era as they simply wander the streets. And as you wander the village, make sure you take in the splendid view from the Piazza del Castello over the Church of San Giorgio and the History of Art Library where around ten thousand books wait to be read; all this without, of course, forgetting a break for fine wine and food in one of the elegant restaurants that line the squares and alleys of the village.

La piazza del castello di Montemerano

La piazza del castello di Montemerano

And at the end of our experiences with history and good food, the Saturnia Hot Springs have just what you need to rest and relax. You can choose to pervade the senses in the beneficial sulphurous waters in the splendid spa or in the open springs of the Cascate del Mulino, immersing yourself not only in the baths but also in the nature of the Maremma. Waterfalls and pools formed naturally by the incessant flow of the thermal waters create a truly unique landscape for leisure and relaxation that are equally unique.

Il caratteristico centro storico di Montemerano

Il caratteristico centro storico di Montemerano

Things to do and see in Saturnia and Montemerano:

  • The town centre and Piazza Vittorio Veneto in Saturnia,
  • The Museum of Archaeology of Saturnia – Manciano – The Albegna Hills,
  • The Pietro Aldi Cultural Centre,
  • The Rocca Aldobrandesca,
  • Porta Romana and Via Clodia.
  • The medieval village, alleyways and Piazza del Castello in Montemerano,
  • The Church of San Giorgio
  • The History of Art Library.
  • Saturnia Thermal Baths,
  • The free hot springs of Cascate del Mulino.

Info:

SPA Terme di Saturnia

Terme libere Cascate del Mulino

Montemerano

How to get here:

 

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Pitigliano: Tuscany’s Little Jerusalem

Discovering Pitigliano: the most famous Città del Tufo is best discovered with a glass of white wine, a Jewish sweetmeat and a dip in the thermal baths. Nestling on a…

Discovering Pitigliano: the most famous Città del Tufo is best discovered with a glass of white wine, a Jewish sweetmeat and a dip in the thermal baths.

Nestling on a spur of tufa rock, Pitigliano is one of Tuscany’s most enchanting villages whose medieval atmosphere still pervades the streets and alleyways. The area was home to ancient civilisations such as the Etruscans, as testified by the many archaeological findings in the area.

On the border with Lazio, Pitigliano is located in the splendid wilderness of Grosseto’s Maremma area; more precisely in the Area del Tufo, so-called because this pyroclastic rock is very commonly found and vastly used as a building material. Together with Sorano [link Sorano] and Sovana [link Sovana] it makes up the famous Città del Tufo.

Il borgo di Pitigliano

Il borgo di Pitigliano

Listed as one of the Borghi più Belli d’Italia (Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages) and Bandiera Arancione, Pitigliano, Grosseto, historically was owned by the Aldobrandeschi family, passing subsequently to the Conti Orsini: powerful families whose medieval and Renaissance-time legacy can be easily seen and appreciated during a pleasant walk along the streets and alleyways of the village.

Its history can be felt in the imposing walls that surround the historical centre and the gates, built on commission by the Aldobrandeschi family while the Orsini legacy can be seen in the Fontana delle Sette Cannelle fountain, the Medici aqueduct and Palazzo Orsini, home to the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art and the Town Archaeological Museum.

There are many buildings of religious or artistic interest, such as the Duomo di Pitigliano, the Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Paolo, the Church of San Rocco – the oldest in the village – and the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie which, standing just outside the village, offers a beautiful view of Pitigliano.

Fontana delle Sette Cannelle

Fontana delle Sette Cannelle

Having crossed one of the ancient thresholds to the village, you are pervaded by a unique atmosphere enhanced by the elegant restaurants with traditional, genuine foods alternating with boutiques and shops selling handicrafts and typical products; of the latter it is worth mentioning the much-appreciated Pitigliano white wine, the Migliaccio and the Jewish sweetmeat Sfratto dei Goym.

The Jewish culture is an integral part of Pitigliano’s heritage: a characteristic that, together with its medieval aspect, has earnt the village its nickname of “Little Jerusalem”. The Jewish community settled here in the 16th century under the protection of the Orsini family and today its cultural and social influence can be seen in the ghetto which is home to the Pitigliano Synagogue, the Passover matzoh bakery, ritual baths, kosher butcher, cellar (where wine is produced following kosher rules) and, just outside the village, the cemetery.

Negozietti dai sapori tradizionali.

Negozietti dai sapori tradizionali.

Just outside the historical centre you can also find the open-air Alberto Manzi Archaeological Museum, a didactic route set up to valorise the historical, archaeological and environmental heritage of Pitigliano: in two separate areas you can visit the ancient Etruscan city, necropolis and carved channels.

Il ghetto ebraico.

Il ghetto ebraico.

Having immersed yourself in the history and sampled some of the most typical flavours, it is time for another type of well-being. This area is already famous for the Terme di Saturnia , but it is also home to the beneficial springs of the Terme di Pitigliano: the perfect way to end the perfect day discovering Pitigliano in Tuscany, and completely relax the senses.

What to see in Pitigliano, Tuscany:

  • The medieval historical centre with its alleyways, shops and restaurants.
  • Palazzo Orsini, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art and the Town Archaeological Museum.
  • The Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Paolo.
  • The Jewish ghetto and cemetery.
  • The open-air Alberto Manzi Archaeological Museum.
  • Pitigliano Springs.

Pitigliano

La piccola Gerusalemme

Terme di Pitigliano

Where is Pitigliano, Italy? How to get there

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Val d’Orcia and Bagni San Filippo

Azure baths and sulphurous waterfalls immersed in luxuriantly green woodland. Moments of peace and relaxation in the hot springs of Bagni San Filippo.  Bagni San Filippo is a very exclusive thermal area, a true jewel in…

Azure baths and sulphurous waterfalls immersed in luxuriantly green woodland. Moments of peace and relaxation in the hot springs of Bagni San Filippo. 

Bagni San Filippo is a very exclusive thermal area, a true jewel in the Val d’Orcia Natural Park. Over the years, flowing sulphurous waters have created a unique scene: waterfalls and baths can be glimpsed through the blossoming vegetation, embraced by limestone formations so white that they give the appearance of a boiling hot snowfield. 

La famosa balena bianca

La famosa balena bianca

This place, known as Fosso Bianco, is vast but easy to reach: park in the village along the road of the same name, and follow the well-signposted path through the woods that quickly leads to the first baths.

The here water is not very deep, nor too hot; the best baths are found a little further on where the water is hotter: this is where the Balena Bianca (White Whale) – an imposing limestone formation in the shape of a whale – watches over and protects the baths, keeping vigil over the bathers. Small waterfalls cascade from her ridges directly into the natural baths, creating a truly magical atmosphere. 

The area and hot springs of Fosso Bianco are free entry; a thermal spa hotel in the village offers a number of water-based services. 

Un luogo adatto a tutta la famiglia

Un luogo adatto a tutta la famiglia

In Bagni San Filippo you can also find the Grotta di San Filippo, a small chapel completely dug out from the rock where the saint is said to have hidden after refusing the prestigious offer of the Papacy. Some documents dating back to the late 1400s tell how Philip, having hidden, hit a rock with his stick: sulphurous water started bubbling up, forming the first hot springs in Bagni. A mark of recognition from the saint to the local community that had welcomed and aided him.  

La grotta di San Filippo

La grotta di San Filippo

Beyond the legend, Bagni San Filippo in the Val d’Orcia is a place for resting and rediscovering harmony. Together with Bagno Vignoni it is one of Tuscany’s many thermal treasures that lay hidden on the slopes of an ancient volcano, Mount Amiata. In just a few kilometres the landscape changes and embarking on a journey in the fresh, blooming woods, you find yourself wandering in another time and another Tuscany. 

Useful websites:

No special equipment is necessary, but suitable footwear (sports shoes or trekking shoes) is recommended for the path that is broken up in places. 

Useful websites: www.bagnisanfilippoterme.it/ 

Come arrivare:

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Giglio Island: the island of two souls

Trekking itineraries to discover one of the most beautiful pearls of the Tuscan Archipelago: Giglio Stone Island between uncontaminated nature and incomparable panoramas.  In front of the Argentario promontory, Giglio Island rises from the Tyrrhenian waters with great…

Trekking itineraries to discover one of the most beautiful pearls of the Tuscan Archipelago: Giglio Stone Island between uncontaminated nature and incomparable panoramas. 

Giglio porto

Giglio porto

In front of the Argentario promontory, Giglio Island rises from the Tyrrhenian waters with great splendour despite its modest size.  

Setting sail from Porto Santo Stefano as the ferry approaches the coast, the sea changes from the deep blue of the depths to the crystalline azure of the inlets inviting you in for a swim before you even get there. We can then see the enormous slabs of smooth, sinewy granite stone wedged into the waters and the maritime dimension of the picturesque port, made up of Mediterranean-coloured old houses; upwards, the ancient castle dominates the island from one of its highest hillocks and is worth a walk along its labyrinthine alleyways.

Built around the 11th century and subsequently refortified, it has defended itself for a thousand years against pirate attacks – even by the terrible Barbarossa 

Tramonto all'isola del Giglio

Tramonto all’isola del Giglio

Giglio Island, Tuscany, was and is still home to fishermen and farmers, to sea and mountain life: the Poggio della Pagana is the highest at 496 metres above sea level; the villages Giglio Porto and Giglio Castello reflect the two souls of the population and along the western coast we find the village Campese, established mainly as a tourist destination and home to one of Giglio Island’s beaches. Between the coast and the hinterland you can enjoy some unique landscapes, the fruit of long harmonious cooperation between mankind and nature. A large part of the island makes up the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago to protect the flora and fauna of land and sea.  

Isola del Giglio, il faro Vaccarecce

Isola del Giglio, il faro Vaccarecce

This island in Tuscany is home to an explosion of life, pastel colours and fragrances – especially in the spring – with the typical essences of the Mediterranean scrubland and also thanks to the many beech woods, a rarity in the other islands in the archipelago. These habitats are home to rather uncommon animal species that require protection, such as the Manx Shearwater and pilgrim falcon (amongst the birds) and the mouflon (amongst the mammals). These places are best discovered at your own pace, wandering the network of paths that cross the island.  

Trekking routes discovering Giglio stone island: 

  • Climb to Giglio Castello 
  • Starting from the port, we take the asphalted road up to the castle; at the crossroads with the main road, we go straight one and soon after the bend we find a junction to the left leading us onto the ancient mule track that connected the two inhabited centres. The whole path is on a rather steep climb, but in the shade of a small beech wood it winds almost entirely along the same cobbles that paved it originally: climbing further, the beechwood opens up to some magnificent views over the Arenella bay and the Caletta. In approximately 45 minutes you reach the city walls of the castle. 
  • Capel Rosso Lighthouse
  • From the main square of the Castello of Giglio Island, we travel south; very soon, to the left we see an asphalted street going up under the shade of a pine wood. The road then becomes a path which, still southwards, leads to the Capel Rosso Lighthouse in an approximately two and a half hours’ walk. The itinerary is well-signposted and offers some beautiful views, continuing through the rich Mediterranean vegetation halfway up the hill. Upon arrival at Capel Rosso point we will be standing on the southernmost point of the island, together with the beautiful lighthouse from which we can admire the spectacular sea-eroded cliffs to either side. 
  • Punta del Faraglione 
  • To the farthest point to the left (looking out to sea) of the Campese beach you will find the path that leads to the head of Punta del Faraglione; through a sweet beech wood and breath-taking panoramic views over the cliffs and the Campese bay, the path ends in front of a limestone pinnacle that seems to be the twin of the sea stack that rises from the sea. A very easy, panoramic excursion lasting approximately 20 minutes on the way out and the same for the return journey – with just one more complicated stretch – set up with rope handrails to help you keep your balance. Perfect at sundown for some unforgettable views.  
Cala Schizzatoio

Cala Schizzatoio

Return itinerary Giglio Porto – Giglio Castello 

Length of route: approx. 4.0 km 

Climb: 350 m 

Difficulty level: average (for the climb) 

Means: by foot 

Departure point: Google Maps

Return itinerary head of Faraglione 

Length of route: approx. 2.0 km 

Climb: 80 m 

Difficulty level: easy 

Means: by foot 

Departure point: Google Maps

Return itinerary Capel Rosso Lighthouse 

Length of route: approx. 13.0 km 

Climb: 550 m 

Difficulty level: challenging 

Means: by foot 

Departure point: Google Maps

Equipaggiamento consigliato: calzature da trekking, borraccia da almeno 1.5 lt, zaino

Useful sites: 

http://www.islepark.it/

https://www.giglioinfo.it/

http://isoladelgiglio.it/it/

How to get here from PuntAla Camp&Resort

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Feniglia beach: uncontaminated beauty

A stretch of sand connecting Argentario to the terra firma: a natural reserve where you can watch the sunset over Orbetello Laguna and Porto Ercole beaches.  Feniglia beach is a well-known stretch of Tyrrhenian coast in Italy. This ayre of around 7km in…

A stretch of sand connecting Argentario to the terra firma: a natural reserve where you can watch the sunset over Orbetello Laguna and Porto Ercole beaches. 

Feniglia beach is a well-known stretch of Tyrrhenian coast in Italy.

This ayre of around 7km in length links the Ansedonia hill with Mount Argentario and – despite its size – has the soul of a terrestrial paradise. 

La Feniglia

La Feniglia

The fine white sand is the perfect companion to the clear, crystalline waters, but the true uniqueness of this marine area lies in the scarcity of beach resorts and bars and restaurants: the beach is almost completely free access, and some points are so untamed they remain deserted even during the height of summer. The road there is, however, accessible and well signposted, and the shallow water makes this beach perfect for children.  

Beyond, you can find the sublime Feniglia Duna Natural Reserve. This protected area was instituted in 1971: a habitat of biodiversity it is home to deer and other horned animals, but also foxes and badgers. The reserve is made up of three different landscapes: the sand dunes of the ayres, the pinewood and the Orbetello Laguna, which at twilight presents a unique panorama over the beaches, the perfect backdrop to film-worthy romantic films.  

Il Mulino spagnolo di Orbetello

Il Mulino spagnolo di Orbetello

Things to do in Orbetellothe nearest inhabited town: there are plenty of tourist attractions here where you can enjoy relaxing evening walks in the historical town centre, ending up in one of the many bars and fish restaurants, or embark along one of the many trekking itineraries exploring the surrounding area; culture enthusiasts simply cannot miss a visit to the Cathedral or a concert in the striking Laguna Theatre 

Just as full of beauty and elegance is the nearby town of Porto Ercolea tiny but terribly enchanting village where its lucky summer residents can hide away in the silent bays far from the chaos of the town.  

Porto Ercole

Porto Ercole

La Feniglia beach, useful links: 

Orbetello turismo

Laguna di Orbetello WWF

Riserva delle Feniglia

How to get:

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Montemassi, the Castle that dominates the Maremma

A thousand-year old castle, stories of battles and war commanders, villages nestled in the rock and Tuscan wines: an itinerary in the Colline Metallifere.  For almost one thousand years the Castello di Montemassi has watched over its…

A thousand-year old castle, stories of battles and war commanders, villages nestled in the rock and Tuscan wines: an itinerary in the Colline Metallifere. 

For almost one thousand years the Castello di Montemassi has watched over its lands: that part of the Maremma that surrounds it stretching out to the foot of the Colline Metallifere. 

A visit to the building doesn’t just mean walking around the ruins; above all, it will take you to the very top of the tower where you can admire an incredible 360° view over the hills below: a valley that surrounds the fort in every direction.  

Montemassi

Montemassi

Easily reached from the coast and Grosseto, the first document mentioning the castle dates back to 1076, but its fame is inextricably linked to a work of art narrating subsequent events: the renowned Guidoriccio da Fogliano attributed to the master Simone Martini. 

Today held in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, this large fresco portrays Guidoriccio da Fogliano at the siege of Montemassi – he can be seen in the centre. To the left of the commander you can see Montemassi in the distance, its tower still intact and almost alive, surrounded by the walls and ready to repel the enemy; to the right is the Siennese camp, the very front of the offensive with its tents and its vines.

Yes, vines, as absurd as it sounds: in fact, a probable translation error in the war chronicles led the artist to paint vines instead of vinae which were wartime weapons. After all, vines in Tuscany are never out of place – even in works of art 

Gli stretti vicoli nascondono piccole sorprese

Gli stretti vicoli nascondono piccole sorprese

Walking along the castle’s stone ramparts to the very top of the tower you can immerse yourself in the landscape of the painting and even hear the echoes of the many battles fought here. Your walk may continue along the streets of the village, stopping to eat in a restaurant perhaps. But the surrounding nature brings with it a pervading idea of peace, inviting visitors to enjoy the view and a relaxing holiday. A few minutes north of the Castello di Montemassi you reach Roccatederighi, 

Grosseto. This village nestles in the volcanic rock of the Colline Metalliferein which man has expertly carved out homes, alleys and stairways into the surrounding stone over the years. At sunset, the village is tinted pink and orange, making it and the nearby woodland even more enchanting. 

If, on the other hand, you are following your palate looking for Tuscan food and wines (such as the Sassabruna Rocca di Montemassi), head south from the Castle to the Rocca di Montemassi wine-making company and estate, found in a part of the Maremma cultivated for wine production as far back as Etruscan times.  

La torre del castello

La torre del castello

The Castello di Montemassi is open all year round and can also be visited at night. 

 Al Castello, restaurant in the village of Montemassi. 

Tenuta Rocca di Montemassi

How to get here 

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The town centre and history of Grosseto, Italy

From its ancient bastions to exciting night-life, this hub of the Tuscan Maremma offers a jam-packed day out from shopping and culture to beaches and evening entertainment. Nestling within its…

From its ancient bastions to exciting night-life, this hub of the Tuscan Maremma offers a jam-packed day out from shopping and culture to beaches and evening entertainment.

Nestling within its ancient medieval walls, Grosseto in Italy is the largest and most important city in the Maremma – a bastion of cultural interest and shopping. Located just a few kilometres from Castiglione della Pescaia and the coast, you can easily take in the best of the historical city centre in a day.

Il corso di Grosseto

Il corso di Grosseto

Starting at Porta Nuova we follow Corso Carducci: the main road of the centre, the city’s shopping high street lined with shops and legendary businesses all the way to Piazza Dante, better known by its rather evocative name of Piazza delle Catene (Square of Chains).

One side of the square is elegantly bordered by porticos that guide the gaze towards Palazzo Aldobrandeschi, headquarters of the Province, and the nave of the Duomo di San Lorenzo. The latter is the city’s most important monument: with its white and pink marble façade it stands out gracefully against the background. In the centre of the square, the statue of Grand Duke Leopoldo II di Lorena commemorates the reclamation of the area and the eradication of malaria in 1846.

Il Cassero Senese

Il Cassero Senese

Apart from Corso Carducci, all other roads leading away from the square lead to the Grosseto’s night-life hub: numerous restaurants and pizzerias line Via Ricasoli and Via San Martino, while cafes, pubs and lounge bars can be found in Piazza Mensini and Piazza del Sale. From Piazza del Sale you can climb up the ancient walls and wander along the perimeter and the bastions or descending, walk along an underground passage that opens out onto the famous gardens of Via Ximenes, tragically linked to the bombings of Easter Monday 1943 during World War Two.

You cannot miss a visit to Cassero Senese. This imposing fortification along the walls -located in the Bastione Fortezza – is home to exhibitions, artistic expositions and festivals.

Weather permitting, you can embark on a number of outdoor experiences in the area surrounding Grosseto: the Roselle archaeological area takes you on a journey to the most ancient history of the area while the Parco Naturale della Maremma stretches out for hectares along the coast and is equally ideal whether you desire relaxation or crave adventure.

Alternatively, the Maremà and Aurelia Antica shopping centres just outside Grosseto, Italy offer shade and something to do on rainy days.

What to do in Grosseto: culture, entertainment and events

  • Museum of Archaeology and Art of the Maremma – Piazza Beccarini, 3
  • Maremma Natural History Museum – Strada Corsini, 5
  • Church of S. Francesco + Garden of Archaeology– Piazza San Francesco, 2
  • Teatro degli Industri – Via G. Mazzini, 89
  • Teatro Moderno – Via Tripoli, 33
  • FAQ – live club, live music
  • Local market – every Thursday in the streets of the city centre
  • Fiera del Madonnino – fair in late April, Loc. Madonnino (Braccagni)

How to get to Grosseto:

 

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San Galgano and Montesiepi: the real sword in the stone

San Galgano: following in the footsteps of the knight who thrust his sword into the stone. A brief excursion into the history and legends of Tuscany A simple yet enchanting…

San Galgano: following in the footsteps of the knight who thrust his sword into the stone. A brief excursion into the history and legends of Tuscany

A simple yet enchanting and mysterious itinerary starts with a brief walk from the Abbazia di San Galgano to the Eremo di Montesiepi, where you can find a real 900-year old sword in the stone.

il sentiero per arrivare all'Abbazia

Il sentiero per arrivare all’Abbazia

This is a truly special area, certainly worth a half-day trip. Leaving your car in the free car park nearby, the looped walk starts from the Abbey and follows a country road and a cypress-lined avenue up to a unique building.

The (long de consecrated) church acts as a bridge between land and sky: now with neither roof nor floor it seems to have risen forever like this in this particular place, silently telling its story and emanating an aura of magic that is difficult to ignore.

Even children are transported by the enchantment of this Abbey, playing hide-and-seek amongst the ancient columns.

Osservare il cielo attraverso il rosone.

Osservare il cielo attraverso il rosone.

The tranquil surrounding countryside invites you to wander around the building, taking time to look around; you cannot miss the building that is slightly higher up and not far from where you stand. A sign marks a pathway that leads to the Eremo di Montesiepi. A brief trek of no more than 15 minutes, and what you’ll find at the end is more than worth it.

L’Eremo di Montesiepi e la Rotonda

L’Eremo di Montesiepi e la Rotonda

The Chapel (or Rotunda) is free to enter and conserves a unique, historically-worthy attraction – and truly the stuff of legends: now under glass to preserve it from atmospheric agents, this sword trapped in the stone seems to be awaiting the return of King Arthur.

A Made in Tuscany Excalibur; there are even those who believe that this sword – authentic and dating back to the first half of the 12th century – was the very one to inspire the Arthurian legend.

But who did it belong to? Galgano Guidotti, born in the nearby village of Chiusdino, was a dissolute knight who, after a vision of Saint Michael, abandoned all his worldly goods and thrust his sword into the land, with the intention of never using it again. The sword in the stone was never touched again and today the chapel stands on the very site of his home

L’autentica spada nella roccia

L’autentica spada nella roccia

To complete the itinerary, you can get in your car – closing the loop – and in a few minutes you are in Chiusdino, where you can see the relics of the saint, including a rock showing the marks made by Galgano’s horse when it fell to its knees in front of the vision of Saint Michael.

A fact that not many are aware of: just a few minutes by car from the Abbey and Chiusdino you can find the Mulino delle Pile water mill, or rather the original Mulino Bianco! Today used as a farm holiday home, you can stop for a quick selfie in front of the most famous water mill in Italy, and maybe even the world.

Abbazia di San Galgano:

open every day, times change depending on season

  • from NOVEMBER to MARCH: 9am – 5:30pm
  • APRIL, MAY and OCTOBER: 9am – 6pm
  • JUNE and SEPTEMBER: 9am – 7pm
  • JULY and AUGUST: 9am – 8pm

Tickets cost €4.00 full price and €3.00 reduced (under-18s, over-65s, students, groups of more than 20 people or families with at least four members). For info: +39 0577 756738

Eremo di Montesiepi:

open every day from 9am to sunset; for info +39 0577 756700

How to get here from PuntAla Camp & Resort

some photos

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