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Scenic and chic, Porto Ercole has become one of the premiere playgrounds of the rich and famous.

Learning the Best of Grosseto and the Maremma of Tuscany

The Province of Grosseto lies in southern Tuscany and reaches from the slopes of the Metalliferous Hills to the border with Lazio. The coastline between the Gulf of Follonica and the mouth of the Chiarone River in the northern portion of the province offers beautiful natural scenery dominated by pine forests and crystal-clear waters. It is also the home to famous resorts such as Marina di Grosseto, Principina a Mare, Castiglione della Pescaia, Punta Ala and Punta Talamone.

The first stop of any tour should be Grosseto itself, which played an important part in the history of Maremma. Its old town is hemmed in by the hexagonal 16th century wall and dominated by the impressive Medici Fortress. The provincial capital is situated about eight miles inland from the coast and is out-of-the-way when it comes to the itineraries of most tourists, but it is a town well worth the visit. The city walls of Grosseto are impressive. Running for a length of almost two miles, they have been turned into a tree-lined walkway. There are six bastions and gates, with the southernmost gate being the oldest, dating from the 14th century. The walls were rebuilt by the Medici in the 16th century and until 1757, they were surrounded by a moat and connected to a series of canals so that goods could be transported by boat.

At the heart of the city is Dante Alighieri Square, a medieval space where you’ll find the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, remodeled in the 19th century in neo Romanesque-Gothic style. The Palazzo Aldobrandeschi is also located here. Built in 1903, its style evokes Sienese medieval architecture. The square is a pleasant place for a stroll or to enjoy an aperitivo. There are many shops under the loggia and along one of the liveliest streets is Corso Carducci that leads up to the square dominated by the cathedral.

Within the heart of the Metalliferous Hills in the northern portion of the province is Massa Marittima, a town that has managed to retain all of its medieval splendor. A stroll through its center brings visitors to the Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral, the Palazzo Pretorio and the Sienese Candeliere Tower that is accessed by a unique bridge with flying buttresses. Traditional villages are still abundant in the area, such as Scansano, homeland of the Morellino wine; Civitella Marittima, with its narrow streets and small Renaissance buildings and the romantic medieval village of Capalbio, while further south along the coast is Castiglione della Pescaia, a fascinating resort on the sea.

Within the province lies the wonderful and historic area known as Maremma. In the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri identified its borders from “Cecina to Corneto” (Tarquinia in Lazio). Maremma is unique due to the variety of its territory, from blue sea with long beaches, marshes and flat lands, to green hills and natural thermal baths. It is a timeless region with ancient roots. Here the Etruscans and then the Romans flourished for centuries leaving behind important traces in the Etruscan cities of Populonia and Roselle, with many archeological finds around the region.

Later, the Aldobrandeschi clan arrived and ruled in Maremma during the dark era of the Middle Ages leaving behind high towers, castles and walled towns such as Santa Fiora and Sovana. The Medici and Lorena families also lived here. The Medici actually began the land reclamation of the marshes in Maremma that continued for centuries, completed only following the Second World War. The Maremma is also the land of the buttero (the Tuscan version of a cowboy) and of rural traditions handed down over the centuries. A visit to Maremma is not just about history and beautiful landscapes, it is also an area rich in traditional foods and flavors to be tasted and savored while drinking an exceptional glass of wine.

The magnificence of the area also extends to the Monterondo Marittimo area and the Biancane Natural Park. This area waits patiently to be discovered by visitors who marvel at the natural springs, extraordinary landscapes and world-class spas and resorts. Some of the spas include Terme di Saturnia, whose therapeutic properties have been enjoyed since Roman times and the Terme di Bagnolo.

In the southern part of the province, the golden beaches of Giannella and Feniglia, stunning 16th century fortifications and unique panoramas, define the Promontory of Monte Argentario. This alluring tourist destination offers a seaside vacation with dramatic cliffs, countless coves and underwater delights for scuba divers. In two little natural inlets, located on opposite sides of the peninsula, lies Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole. At the same time, both sophisticated and charming, Porto Santo Stefano is a typical port community, with its seafront, Old Port, New Port and majestic fortress. Porto Ercole is also striking with its colored houses scattered around the bay and mighty walls dominated by the fortress at the peak. It has become one of the favorites haunts for the rich and famous.

In the southeastern corner of the province, the so-called “Tufo area” is characterized by fascinating natural erosion that has led to the creation of stunning villages and very important Etruscan necropolises. Make sure to leave time to visit at least one of the Città del Tufo, three beautiful villages that lie on rocky outcrops, surrounded by striking valleys below. The ancient towns of Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana were originally settled during the Bronze Age. Each is rich in Etruscan, Medieval and Renaissance remains.

Just as obligatory is an excursion to the Island of Giglio. On the island you will find the fortified village of Giglio Castello, located on the peak of the mountain. Not only is it a perfect backdrop for one-of-a-kind views, it is famous for its beautiful sunsets.

The cuisine of the Grosseto Maremma features traditional soups such as mushroom and pheasant broth, but above all, Acquacotta, a soup with lightly fried onion, celery, tomato and peperoncino. A typical second course dish from Maremma is scottiglia di cinghiale, a wild boar stew. The specialty of the Island of Giglio is wild rabbit chasseur, cooked with tomato, spices and a touch of crushed red pepper. As expected, all manner of seafood is popular along the coast. Of white and red wines, the Vino Colli di Maremma, Morellino di Scansano, Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario, Ansonaco di Isola del Giglio and Bianco di Pitigliano are just a few of the noteworthy names. The best way to find the foods, wines and sites that best suit your tastes is to visit the province of Grosseto yourself…you will not be disappointed!