the small map above to view
Coastal Maremma - the former marshlands
Maremma amara - "bitter Maremma" - this is how a traditional Tuscan song describes the coastal area of the province of Grosseto that makes up the southernmost part of the Maremma. For centuries it was plagued by malaria and had a standard of living that was close to bare survival. In The Divine Comedy (Canto 13 of the Inferno), Dante wrote: "Non han si aspri sterpi né si folti quelle fiere selvagge che in odio hanno tra Cecina e Corneto i luoghi colti" (the wild beasts that find no home in the cultivated fields between Cecina and Corneto find refuge in the thick, harsh bush of the Maremma).
Coastal Maremma is one of the least populated areas of Italy, with large stretches of land left undisturbed for the flora and fauna, which seem, even beyond its boundaries, to be a natural extension of the
even though the area has undergone massive reclamation, transforming what was once putrid and unhealthy
marshland into habitable terrain. Although the reclamation work was started by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany in the
continued by Mussolini who moved in settlers from the Veneto, and was only finally completed in the post-war period.
The remaining marshes are now protected wetlands where numerous species of
Parco Naturale della Maremma
The most famous part of the Maremma is the Parco Naturale della Maremma, otherwise known as the Parco dell'Uccellina after the name of the hills that comprise a large part of the park area. The entrances to the park are at Talamone and Alberese. The park is not open every day and it there is a limit on the number of visitors allowed in each day. For this reason, in addition to the heat in summer, it's a good idea to arrive early.
The park stretches inland from the banks of the mouth of the river Ombrone, where on rare occasions one might come across the traditional Maremman herdsmen called butteri, descendents of the settlers from the Veneto. Apart from long-horned cattle and horses, as you move inland you start to come across wild boar, roe deer, fallow deer, badgers and foxes, and it's also common to see ducks and coots, plus predators such as buzzards, kestrels and peregrines, or, during the night, tawny and barn owls. The area is a permanent habitat for some birds, but is also a stopping-off point for many birds on their long seasonal migrations. The park flora is also very interesting, with palmets, scrub plants that grow in sand, lentisk, and daphne, besides pines, which grow spontaneously but have also been transplanted there in order to protect the environment from land slippage or a tendency to become marshy.
The Maremma is not lacking in interesting architecture which can be seen at Fonteblanda, Talamone and Alberese, the high point of which is the beautiful abbey church of San Rabano, built by the Benedictines and subsequently taken over by the Cistercians.
- Upper Maremma - does not allude to altitude, even though much of it is very
high, but to the northerly location of this area. Villages such as Scarlino, Gavorrano, Ravi and Buriano look out over the
coast of the Alta Maremma, which has been inhabited since the days of the
The latter founded one of their most beautiful cities here,
Vetulonia, which, together with
Roselle, reveals some of the most visible traces of their presence in this region. In its time, Vetulonia was extremely prosperous because it was able to exploit the nearby mines at
Massa Marittima, and it also had a thriving maritime trade.
Area del Tufo
Another part of the Alta Maremma is the inland area of characteristic tuffa rock,
famous for its Etruscan past. The villages here are basically a series of open-air museums and seem to grow out of the rock. Manciano, Vulci, Sovana and Saturnia are all worth visiting.
Among these villages clinging to spurs of tuffa, is Vitozza, with extraordinary caves hidden in the bush.
Metalliferous Hills (Colline Metallifere)
The centre of this area of the Alta Maremma is Massa Marittima.
Costa d'Argento and the Bassa ("lower" or southern) Maremma
A visit to Maremma should also include the Argentario, a kind of island clinging
to the land, where the beauty of the promontory combines with that of the
lagoon, making it one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in Tuscany and the
Near Orbetello, and very close to the boundary with Latium, is the small hill village of Capalbio, which, surrounded by arbutus bush, evokes the atmosphere of rich courts and a quiet life. In Roman times, the area was a favourite spot for emperors, who came to spend their summers here away from the heat of Rome.
A bibliography of Grosseto
Grosseto and the Maremma © ammonet InfoTech 2003 - 2017