Costa degli Etruschi

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The Etruscan Coast is a real paradise in Tuscany, where it is impossible not to feel good, let alone not appreciate all it offers... the name itself gives you some idea of what to expect! Let’s take a closer look: it is a 'Coast' facing a sea that rivals the Caribbean, with stretches of pure white sand and golden beaches, either free or equipped, hidden bays and great rocks for snorkelling, cool and shaded pinewoods. As for 'Etruscan': those who discovered this wonderful coastline were indeed the people of this ancient civilization. As a testimony of their presence, this area contains the only coastal necropolis and a series of archaeological sites that are worth a visit, such as the ‘Populonia-Baratti’. And if this were not enough to entice you, here are some other gems: charming villages like Bolgheri and V, protected areas to go trekking such as the Parks of Val di Cornia, lively seaside resorts like San Vincenzo and Castiglioncello beach. And now for the best of them all: a rich gastronomy that ranges from fish, meat and poultry, accompanied by superb wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. You must be pretty persuaded by now!

Now that I have persuaded you to set off, let me better explain where you are headed to! It is not that hard to spot it: the Tuscany Etruscan coast is the part of the shoreline that stretches from Livorno to Piombino hence encompassing, from north to south, places like Quercianella, Castiglioncello, Vada, Cecina, Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci, San Vicenzo, and Baratti Populonia. Inland, right next to the coast, there are also the municipalities of Collesalvetti, Suvereto, Sassetta and Campiglia Marittima. How do you reach the Etruscan coast beaches? Whether you come from north or south you will arrive along the SS1, the ‘Aurelia’, and take the exit most convenient to reach your destination. On the motorway coming from the north, you can get from Livorno to Rosignano Marittimo, from Rome to Civitavecchia Nord. If, among all the other things, you want to combine your beach holiday with a visit to one or more cities of art, distances, taking Bibbona as a point of reference, range from 125 km to Florence, 130 km to Pistoia, 93 km to Siena and only 70 km to Pisa. V is naturally the closest destination, at 21 km from Quercianella and 48 km from Bibbona. You can also arrive by train with the regional trains of the Livorno-Rome line. Do not forget that Piombino, Italy is where ferries to Corsica, Isola D’Elba and other islands of the Tuscan Archipelago set off.

And once we have reached the Etruscan Coast in Tuscany, what is there to see? Let's start from the sea... and what a see it is indeed! Costa degli Etruschi includes all sorts of beaches. The space between Livorno to Piombino is a succession of beaches, bays and coves, there's no way you cannot find one that suits your needs. The area between Livorno and Quercianella - the 'Romito' coast - features numerous smaller bays with sand mixed with gravel and above all cliffs. Same thing for Castiglioncello: there are virtually no beaches – however you may find many small coves surrounded by rocky hurdles. The perfect settings for privacy lovers and keen snorkelers, slightly less ideal if you have small children more into the bucket-and-spade sort of beaches. Between Quercianella’s beaches and Castiglioncello, ‘Baia del Fortullino' is nearly entirely a pebbly beach, equipped with beds, toilets, bars and has a convenient parking.

After Castiglioncello the coast turns into sandy beaches and continues for kilometres, only interrupted by changes in the colour of the sand. Rosignano for example has the whitest of sands, famously denominated ‘spiagge bianche’ (literally, Tuscany ‘white beaches’). It is a stretch of about 4 km under the Municipality of Rosignano Marittimo and spreads from Rosignano to Vada. Its main feature is the pearlescent sand – which natural phenomenon created it? Unfortunately it has nothing to do with nature: it is the effect of calcium carbonate waste produced by the Solvay Group company. However, I can assure you that when you arrive you will not believe your eyes! Take a ‘selfie’ to make all your friends envy you: they will think you are at the Caribbean… the white sand and the crystal blue sea are common to both beaches. Vada is renowned among divers for the ‘Secche’ where, at a depth of 20-30 metres, you can explore the ‘Genepesca’ shipwreck.

After the white beaches of Vada, starting more or less from 'Mazzanta', the beaches gain back their 'classic' colour and extend uninterruptedly for miles and miles. Up to Cecina beach you can find both free and equipped beaches, a real paradise for surfers and kite-surfers all year long. From Marina di Cecina ‘Cecina a mare’ onwards, the coast is also bordered by a pleasant pine forest which in the summer turns into a real oasis, especially for children. Cecina beaches start straight after the pine forest and are almost entirely occupied by beach resorts. In the Marina di Bibbona area beaches, flanked by typically Mediterranean sand dunes, are instead free for long stretches. Heading south, there are the beaches of Castagneto, Donoratico and San Vincenzo, a golden line bordered by rows of pine trees, without end in sight. The shallow waters make it the perfect place for children who can safely play along the shoreline or even further. San Vincenzo port in Tuscany is ideal if you have a four-legged friend: the 'Dog Beach' in San Vincenzo beach is the place for you!

Our journey along the Etruscan coastline ends with the Gulf of Baratti and Populonia: truly stunning. The green meadow gives way to a pine forest and soon after turns into a sandy beach... Baratti beaches are amazing! In short, you can choose between a bathe and the other whether to lay in the sun, under the pine forest or on the lawn. You are spoilt for choice. One last tip: if you are at the beach and the day is not one of the hottest, perhaps the water is even a little chilly, go to the ‘Calidario 'in Venturina. It is a spa with water that flows naturally at 36 °C, making a bathe in this pool particularly relaxing! Try it all year round, since you can dive in directly from the heated locker rooms.

Since we are in Populonia you absolutely cannot miss a visit to the 'Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia', open all year round and that can be visited freely or with the precious explanations of a guide. What to see? The Necropoli di San Cerbone and the Necropolis of the Caves, the Acropolis and the Via dell’Acropoli that leads you to the top of the hill for a truly magnificent view. If you are particularly interested in the topic, you will find many museums in the area where you can look at archaeological finds and objects relating to ancient times: the 'Archaeological Museum of the territory of Populonia', the 'Archaeological Museum of Rosignano', the 'Archaeological Museum of Cecina'. In Campiglia Marittima, behind the Populonia promontory, there is also the Archaeological Park of San Silvestro. In an area of 400 hectares, you can explore the secrets of the mining village founded a thousand years ago: paths, museums, mine galleries to visit on board a small train.

Even on the Etruscan Coast, as in all seaside resorts, each beach has its own village, either large or small, either modern or ancient. Castiglioncello, for example, is called 'the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea', and in fact it is an elite tourist resort internationally renowned for its delightful coves, for the opportunity to go snorkelling, for the excellent sailing clubs and diving centre. It was the Italian cinema comedy star Alberto Sordi’s retreat and was frequented by famous personalities such as Mastroianni and Gassman. A pleasant walk unwinds through the pine forest and reaches the marina Marina Cala de Medici tourist destination; the square adjacent to Palazzo Pasquini is instead the social centre, where many artistic and cultural events are held.

Rosignano, famous for its Rosignano white beaches, is a village that still retains all of its ancient charm. Visit Castello Pasquini which dates back to 1889 and is an exemple of the late-Gothic architectural style, typical of Tuscany and the Medici watchtower. Palazzo Bombardieri, located in the Fortress of Rosignagno Marittimo, now houses the Archaeological Museum.
The town centre of Vada (Tuscany) is dominated by Piazza Garibaldi which dates back to the Lorraine period, and the original watchtower built in 1279 stands out across the skyline. It is a fairly lively town yet still maintains a soothing tranquillity. Same for Cecina, another family-friendly resort that nevertheless has its clubs and evening entertainment events. The oldest part is home to the Cathedral of Saints Joseph and Leopold dating back to the mid-19th century and is connected by a 3 km long avenue to Cecina Mare. Try the Cecina Italy Water Village, perhaps better if during summertime - lots slides of all types, a wave pool and a lively animation that will brighten your day.

Bibbona is a typical old medieval town in the heart of the Tuscan countryside and still preserves the structure of the ancient fortress it once was: hence walk along the narrow streets and stop for a while in the beautiful squares. Take a trip to the Romanesque San Ilario Church, dating back to the eleventh century, the Renaissance church Santa Maria della Pietà and the City Hall.

Castagneto Carducci is another village whose nucleus is the Gherardesca Castle, built around the year 1000: until the beginning of the 1900s it was called Castagneto Marittimo, but in honour of the Italian poet Giosuè Carducci, its name was changed to ‘Marittimo in Carducci’. Proceeding towards Marina di Castagneto you will pass Donoratico, a tiny quarter full of shops that sells traditional local products. Marina di Castagneto, represented by the Renaissance Military Fortress, is a lively sea resort with a wide range of accommodation services: hotels, camping Italy sites and apartments. The splendid pine forest facing the sea also includes a fun park, ‘Cavallino Matto’. For the most adventurous types, try the last trend in adrenaline-charged rides, the first ‘stand up coaster’ in Italy. I will just give you a few numbers, since I am already shaking at the thought: this particular fair ride reaCorvalliches a maximum height of 32 metres, way above the top of the pine trees… though I am sure you will not exactly be in the mood to enjoy the view! The trail is 800 metres long and is completed at a speed of 100 kilometres per hour, and you will be standing up the whole way… of course, you will be safely harnessed, nevertheless you are still standing on your own two feet! Let’s see what you make of that…

Anyway, to catch breath after this intense experience, why not relax enjoying a delicious meal: hence head to San Vincenzo, Italy, a village full of excellent restaurants, many of which are located along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, alternated with cute shops and, as can be expected, the streets are filled with people as dusk falls over the town. Once you have finished your meal, if you want to burn some calories go for a walk in the port area that has recently been renovated. Before arriving, just before the border of Costa Etruschi, you will reach Populonia, yet another walled medieval town. Populonia dates back to the 1300s and fits into the long list of towns where you can enjoy a pleasant walk along the paved streets and peek into the shop windows. Piombino, especially known for its port, will leave you surprised at the sight of its magical historic centre: its defensive tower, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the Town Hall and the adjacent Clock Tower. Piazza Bovio is a truly stunning terrace facing the sea, right in front of Elba Island. If you are seeking to experience something truly special, watch the sunset caress the sea surface! For an equally stunning moment, walk along the panoramic path that leads to the Castle and to the Medici Fortress.

I know what you are wondering now: what is the traditional food in Costa degli Etruschi? As one would expect, fish, cooked according to each chef’s preference or following a traditional recipe – as with the ‘Caciucco’, a tasty fish soup. Since we are in Maremma, in the so-called Maremma Pisana, try the ‘tortelli maremmani’ with a filling of potatoes, ‘Fiorentina di Chianina’ meat, or a good portion of wild boar meat. As for vegetarians, the choice is still yours: try the Tuscan soup made of stale bread, black cabbage, beans and vegetables… In the summer you can try it cold – a truly unique dish! Tuscan dishes are known to make you quite thirsty… accompany them with a nice glass of wine, such as Sassicaia wine… I hope this is enough to satisfy your appetite!