We all know what Tuscany looks like when we shut out eyes but are we limited to only seeing the touristic northern half of the region?
The likes Florence, Lucca, San Gimignano are beautiful, but is there more to this wonderful area of Italy than this? Well the answer is certain yes and if you keep driving on the E80 along the coast then you’ll find some of the most unspoilt and stunning parts of this well-trodden region.
Explore Massa Marittima
Massa Marittima is a gorgeous little town in the middle of no where is a real treat. Found inland between from Piombino and Grosseto, it is a welcoming ancient little medieval town. As you arrive you will be spoilt with the lush green hills that become wilder as you drive south through Tuscany. You’ll still see the hills and the Cyprus trees dotted all over, but the view is more unkempt and not too unlike southern England. The town is very proud of its cathedral, which dates back to the 13th Century, and it boasts the sarcophagus (funeral receptacle) of St Cerbone. Don’t miss the amazing local red wine (Monteregio) or a slice of locally caught wild boar.
Visit Castiglione della Pescaia
Forget the trees, sheep and hills of a second and get tuned in to the seaside towns that Tuscany has to offer. You’d be hard pressed to find a more tranquil and beautiful one than Castiglione della Pescaia. Having grown up around a medieval fortress it might not have been surprised to find it’s largely unknown to those not from the area or in the know, but it’s an amazing little place full of fishing boats and quaint little restaurants. If you drive into the town from the north west you’ll be hard pressed not to spot the ancient fortress remains at Vetulonia, which was a large part of the Etruscan empire. Thanks to the island of Elba a few miles off the coast, the beaches all around the town are warm and sheltered places for a sunbathe.
Relax at the hot springs of Saturnia
One of Western Europe’s hidden gems is the hot springs at Saturnia deep in the southern part of the province of Grosseto. 23 miles inland, the springs shoot out 800 litres of 37 degree sulfurous water every second, which flow out of the rocks and down the beautifully carved stones into pools. Legend has it that the god Saturn got tired with the wars of humans and so sent a thunderbolt to earth which then gave birth to the hot springs from the ground, giving it the name Saturnia. Nowadays you’ll find plenty of locals adorning the rocks and pools throughout the summer, treating themselves to a natural Jacuzzi and making their skin seem ever more youthful. Some of the pools you have to pay for as they’ve been bought up by spa companies, but most of them are free and open to all, or those who can put up with the smell of eggs.