Booking.com: best prices
The Maremma is a natural region along the western coast of central Italy that includes part of southern Tuscany and also part of northern Lazio region to the south. Here we are concerned with the area that falls within the Maremma Natural Park, west of Grosseto and along the coast of south-west Tuscany.
The park offers visitors a remarkable opportunity to discover a different side of Tuscany, relatively unexplored yet with beautiful scenery, wildlife and beaches.
Exploring Maremma Natural Park
The Maremma Natural Park is a region of reclaimed marshes and low hills, that was uninhabited from the Etruscan epoch until the 18th century due to its inhospitable environment of mosquito infested swamps.
From the 18th century to the 20th century the ancient Etruscan irrigation channels were cleared and the land drained and reclaimed, and successfully converted into a very beautiful scenic region.
The Maremma Natural Park was then created in 1975 to protect the environment and to prevent development along the coast of this part of Italy. An excellent idea because undeveloped areas of Italian coast are quite rare and the scenery here is exceptional!
The park broadly consists of a band of hills sloping down to the flat area of reclaimed marshes, now typically planted with Mediterranean trees and bushes, and lovely sandy beaches and cliffs along the coast.
The Marina di Grosseto and Principina a Mare are at the northern limit of the park and Talamone the southern limit, with Albarese on the eastern border. The substantial town of Grossetto is to the east of the park and the largest town in the region.
The park extends approximately 25 kilometres from north to south.
The main interest for visitors is the chance to explore the natural environment, beaches and scenery and to walk through the pine forests, olive groves and marshes typical of the Mediterranean region. You also have a good chance of seeing foxes, wild boars, and the famous Maremma cows as well as the birds that live in the marshes, and to enjoy the quiet beaches.
Since cars can not enter the park you need to explore on foot or bike, and there are a good number of excellent and clearly marked trails that take you passed the beaches, monuments and scenery of greatest interest and cater to all levels of walking ability. It is also possible to hire bikes in Alberese and follow the cycle path through the Maremma Park.
Note that there are no facilities within the park so if you are walking or cycling you will need to bring food, water and suncream with you, and preferably mosquito repellent.
There are also various historic monuments that you will see as you explore the park, including several ancient stone watchtowers built to defend agains Turkish pirates in the 15th - 18th centuries. Most of these are in ruins but three are open to the public: Castelmarino, Collelungo and the Torre dell'Uccellina. You can also see the substantial ruins of the 12th century Benedictine Abbey of San Rabano.
The principal beach is at Marina di Albarese, and is a long sandy beach with clear waters. Note that there are limits on visitor numbers at the beach and once capacity has been reached additional cars can only enter (at Albarese) when another one leaves. The beach is long so it is easy to avoid the crowds simply by strolling south along the sands.
Maremma Park Visitor Information
The first thing visitors need to realise is that the park can be explored on foot, by bike or on horseback - but there are no public roads within the park itself so you can't enter with a car! Of course, this helps preserve the exceptional environment but means you need to allow a little more time for a visit.
The principal visitor centre for the park is at Via del Bersagliere, Albarese and another at Talamone, and these are the best place to start your visit. You need to puchase a park entrance ticket before getting on the shuttle bus that operates between the visitor centre and the park.
There are various restrictions that apply, and vary according to the time you are visiting. These are principally to control the numbers of visitors and the environment (noise, fires, pets etc) - see www.parco-maremma.it for details.
Just outside Maremma Natural Park there are also several historic hill towns and villages to explore. While Pitigliano is the best known, and an unmissable highlight, you should also visit those at Sovana and Sorano.
The natural spa pools at Saturnia are also another very popular natural highlight here in southernmost Tuscany.
Slightly further afield, Siena is to the north and one of the most remarkable medieval towns in Italy.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Tuscany guide.