Hiking and riding in southern Tuscany

The region of Maremma offers a vision of Italy at its most ‘Arcadian’

The little hill town of Pereta in Tuscany, Italy
The little hill town of Pereta
(Image credit: Zoltan Tarlacz/Shutterstock)

A region of low hills, ancient forests and untamed beaches, Maremma, in southern Tuscany, offers a vision of Italy at its most “Arcadian”, said Laura Rysman in The New York Times. It was once notorious for its malarial marshes, but they were drained in the 16th century on the orders of Fernando I de’ Medici. Today it is known for its butteri, cowboys who ride indigenous horses – the “wide-torsoed” Maremmano breed. Theirs is a venerable equestrian tradition, stretching back, some say, to the Etruscans. At Tenuta di Alberese, a farm in the Parco della Maremma, experienced riders can accompany them as they herd “lyre-horned” Maremmana cattle. But there’s easier riding on offer in the region too, and plenty more to do, from hiking to canoeing and birdwatching.

At La Pescaia – a 16th century villa turned “idyllic” country inn – guests can take riding lessons and go on day-long horseback excursions. For longer itineraries, you might try La Corte di Ardengo, a ranch set among wildflower meadows. Wading across rivers and wending your way through copses of gnarled cork trees, you can ride for hours here without seeing another human being. The Maremma Safari Club offers similar multi-day trips for hikers, some ending in the town of Monticello Amiata, where there’s a good farm-stay, Le Pianore, with cabins built entirely of straw and clay.

In the little hill town of Pereta, stay at Locanda Sospesa, a guesthouse with a lovely garden and glorious views. Nearby are the hot springs of Saturnia, where you can swim in a “bath-warm” geothermal river. But be sure to also spend some time by the sea. On the peninsula of Monte Argentario there are two “high-end” hotels, Il Pellicano and La Roqqa, but still lovelier are the Maremma’s wilder coastal stretches, such as the beach of Marina di Alberese, where “luminous” sands are “bracketed by juniper bushes” and watched over by a lonely medieval tower.

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