The Maremma is the area of Western Tuscany you’ve probably never heard about, much less visited. The region borders the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas. It comprises parts of southwestern Tuscany and northern Lazio. (The fortress in this shot of the town of Talamone was featured in the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.)
The region was traditionally populated by the Butteri, cattle breeders who until recently used horses with a distinctive style of saddle. Once unhealthy because of its many marshes, Maremma was drained and repopulated with people from other Italian regions, notably the Veneto. Once considered wild and filled with bandits, the Maremma today is stylish, historical and consists of widely different and wildly beautiful terrain, including the Parco Naturale della Maremma, Italy’s answer to Yosemite.
The terrain is incredibly varied, running from hills to plains to beaches. Below is one of the Parco dell’Uccellina beaches within the larger Parco Naturale della Maremma, near Grosseto. It’s isolated and unspoiled, yet accessible. You’ll find Italians on holiday but few, if any, Americans.
There is also much agricultural activity in the Maremma. We passed by this idyllic farm on our way inland, but never learned where we were, I’m afraid to say. (If you know where this is, please contact me.)
Thanks to geologic activity, there are many popular spas (e.g., Saturnia) in the Maremma. Historically, the area has very ancient Etruscan roots. One of the original Etruscan towns that’s still vibrant and vital is Pitigliano. Because of its historically important and still thriving Jewish population, Pitigliano is also known as Little Jerusalem.
Favorite Eats and Drinks:
Seafood, pasta, olive oil, and risotto. In fact, arborio rice, the primary variety used to make risotto, is now being grown in the Maremma. (It’s traditionally been grown near Varese in northern Italy.)
We had the opportunity to visit Riso Maremma, a very high quality rice grower near Grosetto. The owner and his family made us a fantastic dinner of Florentine beef and risotto, and let Noah help out at the production facility.
There are also many local wines that are starting to gain an international reputation, such as Morellino di Scansano.
Our favorite restaurant is Da Remo, in the tiny, tiny hamlet of Rispescia. It has no website. You’ll note that virtually all of the Trip Advisor reviews are in Italian, so Americans are not to be found. The seafood was right-off-the-boat fresh. Let them chose for you and watch them de-bone and filet your bronzino (sea bass) at the table. Shrimp. Octopus. Squid. Fantastico!
Favorite Hotel: Fattoria Il Duchesco is actually an agriturismo owned by our friends Fabio and Christina. They also own the farm shown in the photo at the top of this page. (You can see Noah and Paige, with the owners’ son Diego, waiting for a carriage ride on their farm.) The fattoria was the first certified organic farm in Europe, and also runs on wind power. A chemist by trade, Christina also produces her own line of wine-based beauty products.
Look For: Undiscovered beaches, towns, restaurants.
Watch Out For: Too much relaxation and neighborliness. 🙂
Travel Tips: It’s a compact city, so a car is probably not necessary. Bring an umbrella and hat. Take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and walk 5 minutes into town. Have coffee. Pie. Gelato.
Noah’s Tips for Kids:
- Swim at the beach in the park!
- Eat gelato in the park!
- Eat fried shrimp and calamari at a beach restaurant in Grosetto.
- Have a porchetta sandwich on Market Day in Grosetto. Then play at the park in the middle of town.
Travel Tips: You can easily get to Grosetto by train from Rome or Florence. You can catch a bus from Lucca or Pisa. Once there, you’ll need to rent a car to truly get around and see everything from mountains to marinas.
Masthead Photo: That’s Noah on the left of Paige and his friend Diego on the right. They’re going for a carriage ride on the farm owned by Diego’s parents, Fabio and Christina. The farm, which is in Alberese, was the first farm certified as organic (biologico) in Europe!
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