Maremma, what to see: 10 villages not to be missed

What to see in Maremma: an itinerary through 10 must-see villages.

Maremma: a land waiting to be discovered. Straddling Tuscany and Latium, the Maremma is a land that is impossible not to fall in love with, among Italian-style wild west views, fashionable villages and beaches and many, many treasures guarded among towns and villages rich in ancient history. Tarquinia, Rosignano Marittimo, Piombino, the promontory of Punta Ala, the mouth of the Ombrone and the Monti dell’Uccellina, the lagoon of Orbetello and Lake Burano, the Monti della Tolfa and the Chiarone... there are truly numerous corners of the Maremma that are worth visiting and that, each in its own way, bear upon themselves the traces of a nature that has always been here as harsh as it is endowed with a disruptive force and that, even if it is no longer as ’bitter’ as it once was, still retains all its unchanging charm. An undomesticated beauty that can be found in every glimpse, in every panorama of the Maremma, but still always capable of enrapturing the heart in just a few moments, whether you want to go and rediscover the roots of this ancient land, or simply relax on its beautiful coast overlooking the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. Here are 10 villages not to be missed in Maremma.

1. Orbetello

Surrounded by the waters of its lagoon, Orbetello is a jewel waiting to be discovered. This rich and lush land has been an important crossroads of people and goods since Etruscan times. Over the centuries many have been the lords who have taken turns on this strip of Maremma, and for each of them Orbetello has always been a strategic center to be cared for and reinforced. The work destined to change the history and fortunes of Orbetello forever, however, dates back to 1842 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II inaugurated the dam, the narrow embankment that connects the town to the slopes of Argentario, dividing the lagoon in two. It is on this road on the water that one still arrives from Argentario to Orbetello before leaving the car and devoting oneself to a visit among its small and great masterpieces. The circular mill, the small church of Santa Maria alle Grazie, the cathedral or the spectacular lagoon promenade: Orbetello is full of monuments and evocative views that should be appreciated unhurriedly, letting yourself be enraptured by the unique atmosphere of the lagoon.

Orbetello. Foto Wikimedia/Trolvag
Orbetello. Photo Wikimedia/Trolvag

2. Porto Ercole

Sea, nature and ancient architecture. Porto Ercole is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Maremma, but this ancient fishing village on the Argentario promontory also offers visitors much more. The ancient center lies protected by walls and winds at the foot of the imposing Rocca Spagnola in a maze of alleys, small squares and steep stairways that overlook the sea and where cars cannot get. The more modern part of Porto Ercole, on the other hand, develops along the splendid natural bay and on its seafront it is possible to find a moment of relaxation immersed in one of the most evocative views where you can recharge your batteries and then, perhaps, go up the coast to discover the 16th-century fortifications such as the Rocca, Forte Filippo and Forte Stella.

Porto Ercole
Porto Ercole. Photo Municipality of Monte Argentario

3. Porto Santo Stefano

Porto Santo Stefano is the main town of Argentario and one of the most popular vacation spots for tourists and travelers. The town of Porto Santo Stefano is developed along its two harbors, the first one, the commercial one is the largest and ferries to the islands of Giglio and Giannutri also depart from there. The small port of Pilarella, on the other hand, is surely the most characteristic one and can be reached by walking along the iconic promenade designed by one of the masters of Italian style, Giorgetto Giugiaro. This is definitely also the most glamorous area of the town, full of clubs and restaurants overlooking the sea where you can relax and admire the beauty of this seaside village.

Porto Santo Stefano
Porto Santo Stefano

4. Massa Marittima

Perched 400 meters above sea level on the western slope of the Metalliferous Hills Massa Marittima is just under 20 kilometers from the sea and springs up as if by magic from the woods covered with Mediterranean scrub. It is precisely its more elevated position, and thus far from the malaria-infested marshes of the coast, that made Massa Marittima for centuries one of the most flourishing centers in these parts. The first traces of settlements are traced back even to prehistoric times, while it is known that the Etruscans already exploited its mineral wealth. The signs of this long history can still be touched today by walking through the streets of its town center, which slopes gently down from the hill toward the coast divided between the Old Town, the New Town and Borgo.

Massa Marittima
Massa Marittima. Photo Wikimedia/Trolvag

5. Capalbio

The WWF oasis of Lake Burano, the Tarot Garden, the beach of Capalbio, the tomb of the brigand Tiburzi, the Aldobrandesca fortress: there are many places not to be missed during a visit to Capalbio. This small town in Maremma, however, is famous not only for its past, but for the discreet beauty of its coastline. Always a sought-after destination for the Roman jet set, Capalbio can now truly satisfy every taste: both of those who are looking for a chic vacation among millionaire villas and exclusive clubs, and of those who instead want to enjoy the sea in close contact with a still unspoiled nature, lying on a beach that is still proudly free and wild.

Capalbio. Foto di Luca Aless
Capalbio. Photo by Luca Aless

6. Montescudaio

Lying placidly on a hill just over 200 meters above sea level, Montescudaio is an ideal place to relax and fully enjoy the best Maremma has to offer. Montescudaio is, first and foremost, the perfect starting point for so many excursions within the beautiful Tuscan countryside, but it is only by putting one foot after the other and wandering through its ancient streets that one can appreciate its full beauty. Here it seems as if time has stopped in the Middle Ages, an ancient era whose legacy can still be strongly perceived by getting lost in the narrow streets or venturing onto the castle walls from which the eye can sweep as far as the sea.

Montescudaio. Foto di Finestre sull'Arte
Montescudaio. Photo by Windows on Art

7. Bolgheri

The cypresses, the wine, Giosuè Carducci. Enough to describe in three words the village of Bolgheri one of the best known symbols of this corner of Tuscany. In this enchanted place made famous by the verses of the first Italian to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, there are really so many things to see, starting with its famous Viale dei Cipressi, a true icon of all of Tuscany. Not to be missed, however, is a walk through the historic center, a real jewel in which to let your imagination run wild among the medieval streets, artisan workshops and wine cellars. Of particular interest are then the church of Santi Giacomo e Cristoforo, Piazza Alberto and again the path to the discovery of Carducci’s life and, last but not least, the famous castle of the Counts della Gherardesca.

Castello di Bolgheri. Foto di Manuela Rosi
Bolgheri Castle. Photo by Manuela Rosi

8. Populonia

The Val di Cornia was one of the most important centers of Etruscan civilization and even today the vestiges of this important past are everywhere. So many are the unmissable beauties of these places with museums and archaeological parks immersed in a bursting nature and always with the wonderful blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea as a backdrop. Visiting Populonia is a truly unique experience; this ancient city, Etruscan first and Roman later, stretched between the slopes of the Piombino promontory and the Gulf of Baratti and was known since ancient times for its intense metallurgical activity. Today you can visit the archaeological park in the lower part of which you can admire, among other things, the two Etruscan necropolises, while in the higher part you can walk in the ancient acropolis with the temples, buildings, mosaics and streets of the Roman phase.


9. Campiglia Marittima

Between the plain and the hills lies the municipality of Campiglia Marittima with its two urban centers: Campiglia and Venturina. The latter is famous for its spas and large green areas, but it is Campiglia that preserves the most important traces of these lands’ past. The roots of the first nucleus of this village are documented as far back as the year 1000, and there are many legacies from these bygone times that can still be admired up close. A visit to Campiglia cannot fail to observe first of all the splendid Rocca dating back to the 12th century and then again the parish church of San Giovanni, the church of San Lorenzo with its works of art and then the Praetorian Palace.

Campiglia Marittima. Foto di Francesco Bini
Campiglia Marittima. Photo by Francesco Bini

10. Rosignano Marittimo

Rosignano Marittimo with its seven hamlets is the ideal place for a vacation that combines together art, culture and entertainment among crystal clear waters, wild beaches and lush nature. The main town, Rosignano Marittimo, is a charming medieval center that from the top of a hill dominates the entire Tyrrhenian coast. Its oldest nucleus, the Castle, dates back to around the 10th century, and the entire village developed around it. A few kilometers from Rosignano is the tourist resort par excellence of these lands: Castiglioncello, which with its distinct elegance has always attracted artists, actors and jet setters. No less fascinating is then the hamlet of Vada whose history winds uninterruptedly back to Etruscan times.

Rosignano Marittimo. Foto di Francesco Bini
Rosignano Marittimo. Photo by Francesco Bini

Maremma, what to see: 10 villages not to be missed
Maremma, what to see: 10 villages not to be missed