Grosseto and the coast
In Grosseto and the surrounding villages, agricultural lands give way to fashionable streets. This is the cosmopolitan Maremma, of which Grosseto is the capital: where the beaches attract wealthy people and the nightlife flourishes after sunset. But in this region there is much more to see than just postcard landscapes. Its beaches, marshes and natural parks are so idyllic that they have inspired dozens of artists, such as the writer Italo Calvino and the actress Sophia Loren.
Grosseto and the surrounding villages are the symbol of the 21st century Maremma: a touch of modernity in country life. The taste for cultural activities makes the museums, theaters and art galleries in the area some of the best in the province.
If the call of wild nature is too strong to resist, a day trip to the wetlands of the Maremma Park or the Diaccia Botrona National Park is the perfect conditioner.
IN THE FOREGROUND: The butteri
The Butteri are the Tuscan version of cowboys. For generations they have raised Maremma cows in the most hostile environment. Living in the wild makes livestock of a much better quality than breeding, but it is hard and lonely work for these herdsmen looking after them. You can have a rare view of the work of the cowboys at the Alberese Regional Company or in the Maremma Park. Easy to spot thanks to their large wide-brimmed hats and velvet jackets, they brandish a mazzarella, a curved rod used to guide their animals. Local legend tells of a meeting between the cowboys and Buffalo Bill in 1890. The American cowboy is said to have challenged the locals to a show of skill, and when he lost, he escaped without paying the pledge.
IN THE FOREGROUND: Acquacotta
The most famous soup of the Maremma has humble roots. Lunch in the fields was a bucket of water where any vegetables that were close at hand were boiled. As the province became more prosperous, a poached egg was added to the dish, along with a slice of bread and a piece of pecorino cheese. Acquacotta is the symbol of Maremma cuisine: in Grosseto, it is still traditionally served with beets and tomatoes, while on Monte Amiata the porcini mushrooms give it a touch of earthy flavor.
NOT TO BE MISSED:
• A walk at sunset among the flamingos and other birds of the Diaccia Botrona, one hour.
• A journey through the life and death of the Etruscan megalopolis Vetulonia at the “Isidoro Falchi” Civic Museum, 2 hours.
• A visit to the church of San Leopoldo in Follonica, with its inimitable wrought iron facade, 20 minutes.
• The discovery of the wild Maremma Park with a guided tour, from one hour to a full day.
• Stock up on local cheeses and cured meats at the weekly market of Grosseto in Piazza del Mercato, on Thursday mornings.
If you have a weekend to spend in Grosseto, start early in the capital with a typical breakfast with croissant and cappuccino. Then explore the Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma or the Natural History Museum, or both. During lunch in Corso Carducci, choose whether to spend the afternoon at the Maremma Park with a guided tour, relax on the Alberese beach or go straight to Castiglione della Pescaia and Diaccia Botrona. Spend the night in Castiglione della Pescaia to enjoy the lively nightlife on the sea. The next day, visit Vetulonia for a full immersion in what was once one of the richest and most spectacular cities in Etruria, or stay on the coast and go to the luxurious Punta Ala and Follonica for a day of shopping and to admire the local crafts; conclude the best
day with a walk along the promenade of viale Italia, ice cream or roasted chestnuts in hand depending on the season.