Festivals make the Maremma. The inescapable frivolity of these events take over the region’s towns and cities and reanimate them with food traditions, folk music and stories of ancient witches and medieval noblemen.
September is the last of the Maremma’s mega festival months. From here, the region winds down in preparation for winter, when the events are more intimate, usually food-orientated gatherings, held indoors.
So make the most of the waning summer sun and catch these festivals:
12 and 19 September
Gli spettacoli dei Butteri, Roselle, near Grosseto
This show is a true treat of Maremman traditions. Expect horse tricks from the legendary butteri (Italian cowboys). You might even see a vacca Maremmana (a Maremman cow with huge horns) or two.
For more information or to book tickets, visit the tourist information centre in Grosseto. It's on Corso Roma, the main strip.
Sagra del Coniglio, Giglio Castello
Beautiful Giglio Island
celebrates its favourite meat –rabbit – with a parade, then keeps visitors entertained with games, competitions, dancing and even a performance by the Circo Nero Circus on Friday the 14th
And because racing rabbits just wouldn’t have been as exciting, the festivals include a Palio degli asini. It's just like the extremely famous Palio in Siena, except this race is donkey against donkey to see who brings victory to their section of town.
Don’t miss the firework finale on the last night either as they light up the sky above the lovely streets of Giglio’s oldest quarter!
Until 27 September
"Cinema sotto le stelle", Sorano
While you’re probably not going to watch the English movies dubbed in Italian, this mini-film festival is playing two classic Italian films:
- 20 September: 20th La Grande Abbuffata
- 27 September: Il Vento fa il suo giro
Tickets are free and your theatre is the magnificent outdoor setting of medieval Sorano
, which sounds pretty good to me!
For more info, visit the tourist information centre in Sorano. It's in Fortezza Orsini.
Argentario Polo Club International Tournament
Watch some of the world’s best polo players compete for a trophy and a bunch of money. This event is naturally for sports fans only, unless you have a hankering to visit the amazing Argentario Coastline
while you're there!
For information, call the Argentario APT on +39 0564 814208
Festa dell’Uva e delle Cantine Aperte, Giglio Castello
Another wine themed festival. Catch the best Giglio Island’s vineyards have to offer in the famous century-old cellars of Giglio Castello.
You might be surprised to hear that Giglio actually has some of Maremma’s most celebrated vineyards. The island’s signature wine is the Ansonica
– a light white wine that grows best with plenty of sun and salt-scented air.
Sorano Cerca Antica, Piazza Busatti, Sorano
Recreating the traditions of the Orsini Counts and their medieval subjects in the unchanged streets they themselves would have roamed throughout the Middle Ages. Expect music, dancing, and of course, food.
Until 30 September
Le macchine di Leonardo da Vinci, Museo del Medioevo e del Rinascimento, Fortezza Orsini, Sorano
Open Tuesday-Sunday 10.30 - 12.30 and 16.00 - 19.00.
The largest exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines in the world, this collection was created by the famous Niccolai craftsman following Leo’s own original drawings. You’ll be blown away by the 150 different models, all of which have been faithfully rendered from materials available at the time and include the machines we know and love today.
The exhibition is free for those who take the guided tour of Fortezza Orsini.
For tickets and more info, visit the tourist information centre in Fortezza Orsini in Sorano.
Sagra della Salsiccia, Pari, Civitella Paganico near Grosseto
Maremma’s oldest festival is all about the blessedly humble sausage.
I love visiting small towns like Pari, especially during festivals, because they’re perfect snapshots of the Maremma of old. Pari’s beautiful streets haven’t changed in centuries and the locals, Parigiani, are ridiculously friendly and generous.
They’re the ones who will be preparing the mountains of food for this festival, including grilled pork, goat and wild boar, fried polenta, fresh porcini mushroom soup and plenty of great wine.
On Sunday, you can taste Pari’s legendary sweets at the fiera del dolce. Keep an eye out for “ciaccino unto” , which is cooked in a wood fire oven, believe it or not.
For more information, visit the tourist information centre in Grosseto, It's on Corso Roma.
Until 14 October
Guided tours of Vetulonia, every Friday
is the Maremma’s most magnificent Etruscan city. It made its fortune making intricate gold jewellery, but was burnt to the ground by the Romans in the 3rd
century BCE after refusing to bend to their rule.
The guided tour of the unearthed city is unbelievable, and that’s even before you see the burial chambers, which are one-of-a-kind in the Maremma.
Visit the tourist information centre in Castiglione della Pescaia to book. It's in Piazza Garibaldi in the city centre.