Our Little Trip to Maremma (Porto Santo Stefano, Countryside of Scansano, Pitigliano)

I didn’t start LIttle Trips to be a personal travel journal style blog but I still want a way to share about some of the places we’ve been on our own vacations. My hope is my “Our Little Trip to....” posts will help you get a feel for our trip and perhaps give you a starting point for your own. I’m not an expert in these cities, so please consult other blogs, travel sites, and books to help you plan too! 

I really did take this photo of Pitigliano! My girls were sitting behind me on a bench, somewhat oblivious to how amazing this city is. 

I really did take this photo of Pitigliano! My girls were sitting behind me on a bench, somewhat oblivious to how amazing this city is. 

The Maremma region is the southernmost part of Tuscany, between Florence and Rome along the western coast (read more about it here ).  Living near Pisa, I’ve heard of Maremma but typically on my dairy products or other food items that have this name written on them. When looking for a place to go on the weekend with friends who live in Naples, Italy, the Maremma area was a good (almost) halfway spot. We went to two sections: the Argentario Coast and the Fiora Valley.

Who: Me, my husband, my kids (5 and almost 3), our friends (2 adults, 4 year old and 2 year old)

When: Mid July, 2008 for 2 nights and 3 days. The weather was hot in the daytime, perfect to enjoy the pool and the beach, but was very comfortable in the evenings after 7 or 8pm.

How: We drove our car from Pisa about 2.5 hours to the area. The distances traveled around Maremma (from the beach to the countryside and around the countryside) are short but roads are small and winding, requiring slow speeds. This means a 12 mile distance can take almost an hour to drive, but the views were non-stop beautiful. Be prepared if you have people prone to car-sickness with you.

Where we stayed: Agriturismo La Gioia near Scansano.

Side note- an agriturismo is a hotel or B&B in the countryside that is also a working farm. The range from quite rustic with not a ton of amenities to downright fancy. Some offer home cooked meals (some with food grown on their farm and surrounding farms, known as a 0km meal). We truly believe these are the best way to stay in Tuscany to enjoy the views, farms, and slow life Italy is known for.

We had two family rooms (a double bed and two twin beds in each room) with private bathrooms and direct access to the outdoors. This meant we could put the kids to bed and sit outside nearby with our friends, sipping limoncello, under the stars in the Tuscany countryside. It was basically perfect.

Where we went/what we did:

We met our friends, who were driving up from Naples, on the strip of sand between Albinia and Porto Santo Stefano, just below the WWF Oasi Naturale di Ortebello (specifically we paid for chairs and umbrellas at Bagno Nettuno because neither of us wanted to haul a bunch of beach equipment with us on the trip). We decided to do beach day on Friday to avoid the weekend crowds and it was very relaxing. Before going to the beach we decided to get lunch in Porto Santo Stefano. It was a gorgeous little town and we loved the views along the coastal road, then set up at Bagno Nettuno for an afternoon at the beach. It’s my favorite so far of Tuscany’s beaches: dunes and a natural backdrop, shallow water, sandy bottom, and amazing views.

Saturday we had a pool day at the agriturismo and then ventured to Roccapesta winery for a tour and tasting in the afternoon (call ahead to reserve a time, but we called around 1:00 and got a spot at 4:00). One of the winemakers, Genevra, gave our tour and she spoke wonderful English. We had a tour to ourselves so the 4 children weren’t a problem and loved making the large barrel rooms echo with their squeals of joy! Check out Roccapesta and their Morellino di Scansano wine here http://www.roccapesta.com/it/en/

Sunday we drove about an hour through the endlessly lovely hills of the region to Pitigliano. We went through a small woods, eastbound on SR74 and at the edge of the trees the town just appeared- cut out of the tufa cliffs (a type of lava rock). We parked at a little lookout at the end of the switchback and chatted a bit with a wine seller at an enoteca located in a cave which sold wine from the Tommasi family estates (Poggio al Tufo is located in the immediate area). We parked in Pitigliano and had a blast enjoying the city. It has the charm and appeal of some of the more well known Tuscan hill towns like San Gimignano and Volterra but without any crowds. Its high tourist season and we felt like we had the town to ourselves. There was not a tour bus in sight. There were many artisan shops and high quality souvenir shops and plenty of options for food. We dunked our hands in cool fountain waters at the end of the old town to cool off a bit before starting our way back to our parking area. A shaded area with benches across from our parking spot allowed us to relax and take in the view of this amazing place. Pitigliano is not to be missed.

Where we ate: we had dinner Friday and Saturday night poolside at our agriturismo. The food was high quality and delicious, and extremely affordable for the amount and quality of food we received. The kids had space to play in the grass or playground (if you had older children that don’t need as much supervision) while the adults finished eating.

Lunch in Porto Santo Stefano at Trattoria Lo Sfizio. There’s one table inside next to a large window with a great view but it was taken so we ate outside on sidewalk level. We didn’t have a view but it was relaxing and the grilled fish and crepe scampi were amazing.

Pitigliano: Pizza plus other amazing things) at La Rocca. Very kid friendly- we ate outside under a huge shady tree and they had high chairs. Gelato and drinks at bar Foschetti Claudia (easy, lots of shady seating, and inexpensive. Bathroom was in the basement).

Helpful Links:

Use my referral link at Booking.com to get a discount https://www.booking.com/s/34_6/e4d106ea (and give a discount to us too). This is how I found and booked Agriturismo La Gioia. https://www.agriturismolagioia.com/home-1

Winery:  http://www.roccapesta.com/it/en/

Maremma Info: https://maremma-tuscany.com/

Lessons learned and helpful tips:

A car is necessary for this area and worth it. It wasn’t crowded and easy to find parking and places to eat, even with a large group, because it’s not easily accessible by train (and we never saw a single tour bus!).

If you want to go to the small beaches in Porto Santo Stefano, bring water shoes, as the beaches looked lovely but were made up of little rocks/pebbles and not sand. We specifically wanted a sand beach so that’s why we chose the area near Bagno Nettuno.

Leave your days open to just explore. We didn’t bother trying to get the kids to nap at the agriturismo, but instead took a drive and let them nap in the car (on the way to the winery and the drive home from Pitigliano). We could have seen more towns or done more things but instead decided to enjoy the countryside and a day at the pool. I think it’s because of this slow and relaxed pace that we had 4 kids 5 and under with no major meltdowns or behavior issues during the weekend trip.

We parked in Pitigliano on the blue paid parking on Via San Michele (search for Il Grottino Restaurant and it’s right by there). A bit further up the road the parking turned to white spaces which meant it was free, but we didn’t mind paying a few euro to park. There’s a lovely view from here and shady benches to enjoy.