Welcome back!

Benvenuto! Welcome back! I've been writing furiously, trying to finish some more content on the Maremma for other equally obsessed fans of this gorgeous corner of Southern Tuscany, and I have to say, I couldn't have come back at a better time. The Maremma in winter is, admittedly cold for a Southern sun kind of gal like me, but it's also when all the tourists head home and the authenticity of the Southern Tuscan countryside restores itself once more. And, not that I'm advocating any need to travel outside of this region, but the rest of Tuscany is also very nice this time of year! Florence can be excruciatingly hot in summer and Siena in June is like being stuck in traffic. But in winter, the whole region slows down and the locals rug up to reclaim their cities. Not to mention, some of the winter festivals in Florence are magnificent! Especially the annual Chocolate Festival - I was wandering from stall to stall for hours trying to decide which delicious morsel I wanted to try the most. But back to the Maremma. There is something so iconic, so nourishing about the region when summer ends. The countryside quiets down. The trees never lose their leaves, but they do take on a hit of red and gold. The fields of sunflowers and wheat are quickly stripped back, ready for the next harvest. And everywhere you go smells like chestnuts and open fires. The Maremman cuisine was made for winter, and suddenly the painstakingly slow-roasted game and unctuous ragu sauces make sense. Truffles and porcini mushrooms become the accompaniment for every meal, unless, of course, there's polenta to be had! I love the sense of home comforts and family of the Maremma in winter. The Maremmani are a generous bunch at the best of times, but they're driven by the cold to be even more hospitable. Luckily, it's not so cold that you can't do any sightseeing. There are two touristy things I love to do in the Maremma in winter. The first is visit the Cascate del Mulino. In winter, these hot springs just outside of Saturnia are heaven! Sure, it's a shock getting your gear off, but once you hop into the warm water (37°C all year 'round), it's pure bliss. I could spend hours watching the steam rise into the cool air. It's effectively evocative, especially at night. The second thing I love to do is get my fill of Monte Amiata. During the rest of the year, Monte Amiata is a little overlooked. This section of the Maremma is for nature walking, mountain climbing and winter activities. When you're not skiing down Amiata Mountain, you should be visiting all the tiny characteristic towns that sit at its feet. These towns come alive during winter. Their primary beauty lies in the naturalistic paradise they have at their doorsteps. Most of the area is part of a protected park and home to wildlife like the Apennine wolf and hedgehog. But these towns also throw mean winter festivals. They treat chestnuts and mushrooms like gods, and still celebrate centuries' old traditions with plenty of great local food, wine and music thrown in for good measure. If you're in the Maremma this month don't miss the Sagra della Castagna at Scarlino, the Focarezza di Santa Caterina in Roccalbegna and the Festa del Fungo Amiatino at Santa Fiora.

Elisa Scarton Detti

Elisa is an Australian journalist who came to Tuscany for a year, fell in love (how cliché?) and decided to stick around. Not one to keep amazing holiday destinations to herself, she now writes a blog and travel guide about the infinitely beautiful Tuscany.

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