Maremma is the name given to the coastal landscape of southern Tuscany in Italy. It stretches from the town of Piombino in the north to Monte Argentario in the south. Likewise, the Parco Regionale della Maremma is often simply called Maremma for short. This nature park includes a coastal section with beautiful hilly landscape, the Monti dell’Uccellina.
In these hills you can meet wild animals and make exceptionally beautiful hikes. Far away from roads and villages. The Maremma is a particularly lovely part of Tuscany, to which I am always drawn.
Table of contents
What is the Maremma?
The Maremma is a historical marshland in the province of Grosseto. Near the mouth of the river Ombrone between the city of Grosseto and the village of Principina a Mare lies its center. Sometimes the term is used a little more broadly to refer to all of southern Tuscany and even parts of northern Lazio.
Today, the swamp landscape no longer exists. Only small parts of the swamp are left. Instead, the Maremma is characterized by large pine forests, pastures, scrub and holm oaks. There are also vast dune landscapes near the sea. The heart of the Maremma is a national park. The park is called Parco Regionale della Maremma. Below you can learn why hiking in this park is more than worthwhile and how you can enter it.
Past and present
The Maremma was not always the friendly piece of land it is today. Malaria used to threaten people here. Even if you naively wouldn’t expect it in Italy. Impenetrable swampland made life in Tuscany difficult to impossible. Even before the Romans ruled the area of today’s Maremma, the Etruscans tried to drain the swampy area to make it usable. The Etruscans were an ancient people who inhabited the entire Maremma area.
They partially succeeded in taming the landscape. But during the Roman period, nature reclaimed the Maremma. Permanent drainage and victory over malaria was achieved only about a hundred years ago. Namely, then the canal to drain the water of the marshes was successfully constructed. I hope someday nature will take back the wilderness.
By the way, while walking in the Parco Regionale della Maremma, you pass a canal on the edge of the hills. I don’t know if it’s one of the old canals, but it looks like one. There are many large fish swimming in the water and countless turtles sunbathing on the sandbanks on the banks of the canal.
Along the Maremma coast, in various places, there are the ruins of medieval watchtowers from the Pisan and Florentine periods. During the walks through the Parco Regionale della Maremma you can pass by some of these ruins. Since they once served to protect the coast of Italy from Saracen attacks, the sites still offer a wonderful view of the impressive coastal landscape.
Parco Regionale della Maremma
The best thing about Maremma is the Parco Regionale della Maremma Nature Park. This nature reserve exists since the seventies of the 20th century. Walking through the park, you can see a lot of animals. In addition, the landscape here is so incredibly beautiful that you don’t want to leave.
Access to the National Park
Essentially, the Maremma Natural Park is accessible from two places. In the south, access is possible to three trails at Talamone. In the north, access to six trails is possible from Alberese. The main access point, with a visitor center and a small store, is Alberese. After buying the tickets for the Parco Regionale della Maremma, you take the bus to the park. There, the individual hikes start from the Pratini parking lot.
The buses go to the park every hour in the morning and out of the park every hour in the afternoon. Currently, the last possible return trip is at 19:00. It is recommended not to miss the bus. Otherwise, the walking day will be prolonged by at least one hour. Very often you can see some people running through the park to still reach the bus.
I describe the individual hiking trails below. When you buy the tickets, which by the way cost about 10 €, you also get a good hiking map for the park with some additional information.
In any case, it is highly recommended to take plenty of water and something to eat into the park. Because, as it is common in nature, there are no shopping facilities. And in the Maremma hills it can get very hot. And woe betide anyone who gets the idea of hunting a wild boar.
Bicycles can also be rented at the visitor center in Alberese to explore the park. However, I would say that especially the most beautiful places are not so easy to reach by bike.
It is best to visit the Maremma out of season. In spring and autumn you are sometimes almost alone in the bus and in the park.
Ruins, animals and plants
In the Maremma there are many traces of past cultures. The walks through the Parco Regionale della Maremma take visitors past ancient watchtowers and an old ruined monastery. There are also caves to discover that were inhabited as far back as the Stone Age. Everything together creates a mysterious and adventurous atmosphere. This makes walking through the park even more exciting.
There are also heaps of animals and plants to see. Beautiful pine forests, hillside scrub and endless maquis make the trails special and fill the warm air with their pleasant smells.
In all my visits to the Maremma I also encounter animals. I especially like the turtles that hang out in the canals. These turtles usually sunbathe on the banks. They are very interested in the people who walk through the park. For example, when you sit down on the bridge over the drainage canal, they come swimming up from all sides and look up curiously. As is so often the case, animals approach humans in a curious and friendly manner. Until they realize that he ultimately imprisons, mauls, murders or oppresses and eats them.
While walking near the beach and in the pine forests, visitors also like to meet foxes. The foxes in the Maremma do not seem to be particularly afraid of people. In any case, it is not uncommon for them to be very unimpressed by them and to walk by at a distance of one meter. Otherwise, there are, among others, wild boars, snakes, wild cats and now even eagles again.
Hiking in the Maremma
All trails in the Maremma are very well signposted. From Alberese you can start directly with the hikes A5 and A6, but I do not know them. According to the information, these are nature trails. The walking time is given as about one and a half hours for just under four miles.
If you take the bus to the starting point Pratini, you can start from there four different walks. These walks are called A1, A2, A3 and A4. Some of them follow the same paths and trails. I consider them the most beautiful hikes in the Maremma. In detail, the hikes run like this:
- A1 – San Rabano: This hike leads for about six miles and in four hours up and down through the hills of the Maremma. The highlight is the ruined monastery of San Rabano from the 11th century. You also pass a tower from the 14th century.
- A2 – Le Torri: On about four miles you pass two towers from the 12th and 16th century in about two and a half hours. From the towers you have a beautiful view over the Maremma countryside. In addition, the path passes by a beautiful beach.
- A3 – Le Grotte: For almost six miles and in about three hours you walk a long stretch along the drainage canal through pine forests. You can see turtles and the caves in the steep cliffs. You will also pass by the beautiful beach.
- A4 – Cala di Forno: The path to Cala di Forno goes for about 8 miles through the maquis, olive groves and forests. You will often have beautiful views over the Mediterranean Sea and the Maremma landscape. At the end of the hike you reach a beautiful beach. Unfortunately, you have to go back the same way.
Overall, I found it most beautiful to combine the paths A1, A2 and A3. Although you walk a little longer and must calculate accordingly time. However, you get to see turtles, old watchtowers, the beautiful beach and the old monastery ruins. For experienced hikers, this is also no problem to create the hike so well in one day.
From Marina di Alberese you can walk the trail A7 in the Ombrone estuary. The walking time, as for A5/A6, is about one and a half hours for a distance of just under four miles.
From Talamone, in the south of the Maremma, start the trails T1, T2 and T3, which take between two, five or eight hours to walk through the Maremma. If you don’t take too many breaks, the individual hikes can also be completed more quickly.
On the hiking maps, which you get when you buy the tickets, you can also find altitude profiles of the individual hikes.
The beaches of the Maremma
In the Parco Regionale della Maremma there are two really beautiful beaches. The huge wild beach at the foot of the old watchtower ruins Torre di Collelungo can be reached quite easily from the starting points of the walks from the access in Alberese. A beach doesn’t get much more beautiful than this. It is set against the backdrop of the hills with the watchtowers.
In the background above the water float the islands Isola del Giglio and Isola di Montecristo. Isola di Montecristo, by the way, has an interesting history, which you can read more about on the page about Château d’If. There are bold pieces of driftwood on the sand. The tracks in the sand are mainly of animals. You are not allowed to enter the dune area behind the beach, where nature is supposed to have its peace.
Another beautiful beach in the Maremma Natural Park is in Cala di Forno a little further south. There are some tables ready where you can sit down and enjoy the food you brought with you. With a little luck you will also meet the nice cat that lives there.
Even outside the national park, the Maremma has many beautiful sandy beaches, most of which are not much too crowded. Endless pine forests that smell so really good are also a good place to take long walks in the shade.
Around the Maremma Park
The largest city in the Maremma is Grosseto. Grosseto has a little more than 80,000 inhabitants. Beautifully situated, directly on the sea is the town of Castiglione della Pescaia, which can be reached after a few miles drive from Grosseto. Near Grosseto, unfortunately, there is also a military airport. Sometimes jet planes fly low over the Maremma landscape. Presumably they fly completely superfluous maneuvers or whatever and unfortunately disturb the tranquility of the Maremma permanently.
In the area there are several beautiful towns and mountain villages, as in many places in Italy. Massa Marittima and Siena can be visited, or Scarlino and Montemassi. Driving through the Tuscan hills is an experience in itself.
Everywhere in the Maremma there are traces of the ancient Etruscans. Ruins of tombs and cities revive the past. Of particular interest here are the excavations at Populonia just north of Piombino. A visit to these sites is worthwhile not only for their historical significance, but also for the spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea with the Tuscan Archipelago.
From Populonia you can also make beautiful walks through the steep woods of the relatively untouched piece of nature between Piombino and Populonia. However, the viewpoints announced on the hiking maps are not to be found in the woods. Instead, after about an hour’s hike, you reach a lonely little beach at the foot of the cliffs.
The network of hiking trails can also be accessed from Piombino. Especially on weekends, unfortunately, there are a lot of walkers here. All in all, however, a nice alternative to hiking in the Maremma.
In the Gulf of Baratti you can then also drink a coffee and eat a vegan ice cream. I particularly liked the bar La Pergola here.
If you want to move a bit further north, a trip to the mountain town of Castagnetto Carducci is nice.
Living and accommodation in the Maremma
In the Maremma and the area of the National Park there are many accommodations. Fortunately, you will find few large hotels, but instead mainly apartments and agriturismi. These are simple and usually very nice apartments in farmhouses or old manor houses.
About an hour by car from the Parco Regionale della Maremma is the vacation home La Muccheria. This place is my clear recommendation for exploring Tuscany. Even though it is a bit of a drive to the more southern part of Maremma. La Muccheria is located about two miles above San Vincenzo. Almost directly behind the house begins a small hiking area. In it you can visit, for example, the ruins of the old mining town of Rocca San Silvestro.
You can find La Muccheria at the following link at Booking.com: La Muccheria at Booking.com (Ad)
Along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea there are also many campsites. Nice are for example the campsite Sans Souci in Castiglione della Pescaia or the campsite Casa di Caccia in Marina di Bibbona. Castiglione della Pescaia is not far from Grosseto and is therefore an ideal starting point for trips to the Maremma. From Marina di Bibbona it is about an hour by car to the Parco Regionale della Maremma. The place is quiet and pleasant in the low season.
You can find Camping Sans Souci at the following link at Booking.com: Sans Souci at Booking.com (Ad)
You can find Camping Casa di Caccia at the following link at Booking.com: Casa di Caccia at Booking.com (Ad)
More about Tuscany and all the other regions of Italy you can find on the page about the 20 Italian regions.