Almost all of the beaches in the Maremma are free and great for children. Those on the Argentario Coast are especially ideal for families as the coastline is protected from harsh sea winds and the water is calm and warm.
And while some of the Maremma's better known beaches can get a bit crowded in the summer, the ones I've listed here are the local hot spots most tourists don't know anything about, so you can enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.
L'Acqua Dolce in Porto Ercole
This is my number one favourite beach in the Maremma. I love it. The view from the top of the promontory is to die for. This beach is one of the locals' best kept secrets, so I feel a little guilty sharing it with you, but I don't think anyone should miss out on this gorgeous beach with its rock pools and calm waters. Use of the beach is free, but you can rent umbrellas and deck chairs if you want.
To access the beach you have to follow the sign for Hotel Pellicano as you drive out of Porto Ercole in the direction of Forte Stella. When you get to the hotel, you turn left onto a small footpath. The walk down to the beach is pretty long, about 100 metres, and quite tiring, but it's worth the effort. Secluded and often deserted, this beach is perfect for couples.
Feniglia Beach in Orbetello
Capalbio is unique because it's the only section of the Maremma with a coastline that runs unbroken for 12km connecting it with Orbetello and all the way to Lazio. That's a lot of untouched and unspoiled beaches, but only half of them are free.
Feniglia is the best and is often named Tuscany's best beach. You can drive almost all the way to the sand, which makes unpacking and dragging all the kids' beach toys a breeze. The beach itself is also a lot more kid friendly than L'Acqua Dolce. The sand is finer and gentler on little soles and the water is transparent and limpid. Every day, life guards mark off the safest and calmest section of the sea, where you can swim without worrying about the current.
To find Feniglia, you have to follow the signs to Monte Argentario and then follow the signs in the direction of Cala Galera and Porto Ercole. It's pretty easy to find. The beach also has a snack bar, in case you get peckish.
Photo: Ruben Perez via Flickr.
Cala Violina between Follonica and Punta Ala
Cala Violina is the sort of beach you dream about. Perfect for couples and families, it's just outside of Follonica. The beach gets its name from the transparent and granular quartz grains that make up its sand. The sand sounds a bit like the humming of violin strings when you walk on it.
The water here is crystal clear and the beach is surrounded by dense and lush Mediterranean vegetation. There are no bathing facilities, but in the summer, there's a kiosk with refreshments and sandwiches. In the pine forest, there are wooden tables and benches perfect for a picnic in the shade. If you're adventurous, you can follow the path behind the beach for several miles along the coast. It isn't easy, but the view is absolutely beautiful.
To get here all you have to do is follow the SP 158 and the easy-to-spot signs. When you get close to the beach, the SP 158 turns off onto a dirt road. Follow it for 1km and you'll find a parking lot. Once parked, you have to walk 1.5 km through gorgeous pine forest to reach the beach.
In summer, there's also a bus that goes from the Castiglione della Pescaia and Follonica Station and stops about 2.5 km from Cala Violina. Just ask the bus driver to tell you when to get off.
Photo: Andrea-Sartorati via Flickr.