I was writing a guest post the other day about expat life, and it got me thinking. I should blog more about what it's like to call the Maremma home.
I always tell people that it's so important to appreciate the Maremma as a local would. This region has so much to offer, natural beauty, incredible history, gorgeous cities, but it's most endearing feature has and always will be its residents.
They're the ones who maintain the centuries' old traditions that manifest in every aspect of daily life, from the bedtime stories they tell their children to the dishes they serve on their dinner tables.
They're the ones who tirelessly organise festival after festival, year after year, not only for themselves, but for their children and for visitors to experience the spirit and culture of their home.
And they're the ones who always do their best to extend a warm welcome to those tourists who are lucky enough to vacation in the Maremma.
I was watching Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods
yesterday and from the way he spoke, 'tourist' sounded like a dirty word. It's almost as if tourist has come represent something negative, annoying, someone who travels to a destination, but doesn't want to experience it properly, something no self-respecting city wants.
Granted, most tourists don't eat tongues or testicles, but you have to give people props for having the courage to leave their homes and actually travel somewhere else in the world. Obviously, they've demonstrated some sort of worldliness or interest in other cultures, otherwise they wouldn't have left their sofas.
But that's beside the point. For me, one of the best things about the Maremma is that you can be a tourist and still feel like you're experiencing the Maremman way of life.
I think it's because the Maremma is yet to really know what it's like to be bombarded by tourists, so it's residents are still hospitable and welcoming, genuinely happy to show you about their homes and eager for you to have a great holiday.
This is Italy of the 1960s and the silver screen, no exaggeration needed. You'll be hard pressed to find a place where the food is more authentic, the sights are more breathtaking and the attractions aren't ruined by long lines or hecklers dressed up in Roman soldier costumes.
To explore the Maremma is to explore country Tuscany at its most authentic. But whatever you do and wherever you visit, be sure to chat to the locals.
My home, Manciano
You don't need to speak perfect Italian. Most Maremmani are proficient in English and more than happy to share their insider's knowledge of this gorgeous region with you.
But just so you know, I don't expect the Maremma to be like this forever. Like all good things, it will eventually become as popular and as crowded as the Amalfi Coast or Sicily.
So in my most cliche salesperson's voice, 'Catch it now or miss out later!'
Okay, so that was a little corny, but you get what I mean. Visit the Maremma while it's still off most tourists' radars and you'll have an unforgettable experience.