Driving down the road from Follonica to Punta Ala is like being in some old movie. To the left is the crystal blue sea, while to your right are endless miles of stark green pine forests.
It's at the end of this picturesque, winding road that you'll find Punta Ala - a port town with an indescribable mountain air.
It may sound like a mess of contradictions, but Punta Ala's surroundings really are part sea, part mountain. The locals enjoy warm waters here all year round and the fishermen never get tired of catching sea bream. It's the perfect seaside setting, until you turn to look across town and see Hidalgo hill and the evergreen pines that form part of the Le Rochette nature park.
From this side of the port, the never-ending stretches of trees and small mountains are home to an array of local flora and fauna and are extremely popular with those looking to get in touch with nature.
Not to be outdone by its beautiful surroundings, Punta Ala has charm all of its own.
The Etruscans used this land to raise herd, and they also mined the minerals in the nearby hills. Punta Ala then became an important port for the Romans and continued to be so under the dominion of Pisano and Cosimo de'Medici, who thought it fit to give the town, then Punta Troia, to his wife Eleonara di Toledo as gift in the 15th century.
Punta Troia was renamed Punta Ala in the 1930s by famous Italian aviator Italo Balbo (ala meaning wing in Italian), who bought the entire area and used it as the departure point for his first solo flight across the Atlantic.
Today Punta Ala is the Orange County of the Maremma. After the 1970s, rich Italians and tourists flocked here for their own slice of seaside paradise, building big beautiful mansions on the surrounding rocky cliffs.
Exclusivity and luxury are the only adjectives that can describe Punta Ala, except here the modern designer boutiques and extremely expensive five-star restaurants sit side by side with a crumbling medieval castle and Renaissance watchtowers.
Every summer, the entire town makes its way to the marina to watch surfers, sailors and water skiers. Others try to improve their teeing average at the very famous Punta Ala Golf Course and Country Club.
Photo: Gaspar Torriero via Flickr.
Also known as the Torre di Troia Nuova, it was built between 1562 and 1563 by Cosimo I de ‘Medici and was transformed into a luxurious and elegant mansion by Italo Balbo in 1932.
It’s not exactly a cultural extravaganza, but the Grand Soleil Cup is a chance to watch fleets from all over the world race in the beautiful waters around Punta Ala.