snapshots of my travels
I have found that people have a few misconceptions about Tuscany, and I am here to sort out the confusion! Believe it or not, there is more to do than drink wine on set of "Under the Tuscan Sun." Tuscany is actually a region of Italy - not a city - which consists mainly of small towns, villages, and farms, with the exception of Florence. The region makes up a decent amount of Italy's coastline. Sure, Tuscany does have vineyards - lots and lots of vineyards and red wine and white wine and - where was I going with this?
Oh, yes! It also has some of the finest beaches in all of Italy!
Toscana is located in central Italy, just north of Lazio (Rome is in this area). There is a nature park called Maremma. The locals here are notoriously considered "buttero," which can be compared to country folk and cowboys in the United States. Traditions are passed down generation to generation, via word of mouth. These people truly live off the land and make every effort to preserve its beauty.
The town of Grosseto is actually located inside of this nature park, surrounded by millions of sunflowers (girasole) and a hexagonal shaped wall built in the 16th century. Today, this wall is simply used as a public park and walking track.
Grosseto doesn’t have much. There is one main cathedral (the Grosseto Cathedral) and a few restaurants. It's not a popular tourist destination, though it is very deserving of a visit, especially if you want to experience a quiet and authentic Italian town. Grosseto does, though, have quick and easy access to many magnificent beaches! For just two euros, you can catch a bus (bus station located in the parking lot of the train station) which takes you 14 kilometers straight to the coast. Here, you can spend your day lounging around on a characteristically Italian beach.
The 14 kilometer drive was over a flat plane, not the typically rolling Tuscan hills. Instead of seeing the occasional Cyprus tree or even the approaching sea, my view was destructed by thick forests of pine trees. As we arrived at the bus stop, the crystal clear waters finally became visible, almost like a little oasis.
It seemed as if every single Italian had taken the day off work just to lounge around and tan their sun kissed skin. I made a beeline straight for an open area of scorching hot sand and splayed out my towel on the beach known as Castiglione della Pescaia. Note: the yellow umbrellas and lounge chairs are only available to the people who rent them out for the entire summer.
If adventure is more up your alley, the Maremma coastline also offers excellent places to cliff jump, scuba dive, and sail. It is possible to hike to the top of Rocca Aragonese, pictured above. This medieval lookout was once used as a safe place to spot people with the plague. It's location makes an excellent spot for sunsets!
As I mentioned earlier, the people here live off of the land. Therefore, traditional cuisine is very simple. The most well known dish is schiaccia alla pala (dialect for oven baked bread with oil). Nevertheless, I found the food to be rich in flavor. Castiglione della Pescaia had no shortage of restaurants, lounges, and bars. In fact, I treated myself to some rose wine and macedonia (fresh fruit salad) at a nearby .