Hi Elise, I have been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to housesit for 2 months just outside Massa Marittima. I am flying from Australia with my (almost) 8 year old daughter and hoping to arrive in time to join in the New Year’s festivities. I’m hoping you can give me some recommendations of things to do with my little one, but particularly of ways that we may meet and befriend other families with children of similar ages and I’m also hoping to enrol my daughter in the local school if this is possible. Thanks for your help, and for your blog. Jo
9. October 2015
Hi Jo, what a fantastic opportunity! Massa Marittima is a beautiful city and is gorgeous around New Year’s. Just remember to pack warm as it can get very cold there! I’m not sure if you can enrol your daughter in the local school for such a short period of time. While you don’t have to be an Italian citizen to enrol in the local schools, you do, I think, need to have residency in the town or at least a visa. However, the Australian consulate in Rome might know more about that! As for ways to make friends, the best advice I can give is to get out and about. Massa Marittima has so many extracurricular activities that you can sign your daughter up for. There’s a swimming pool, dance classes, gymnastics. Plenty of options! It’s not something you have to plan ahead, so don’t worry. When you arrive in Massa Marittima, ask at the town council for a list of extracurricular activities and choose from what’s available. They’ll be able to help you sign up and maybe even answer your questions about the local school. All the best, Elisa
Dear Elise, My family and I are planning to visit Italy for the first time at the end of August. I live in Canada and the initial intend of our trip is to attend my best friend’s wedding in Macerata on Sep. 4th. But before going there we decided to stay for four nights in Southern Tuscany. I absolutely fall in love with the region and your blog. We reserved an agriturismi (through your suggestions in your blog) called “Agriturismo La Rocca dei Briganti.” We are travelling in a company of 8: my brother, his wife and their two little kids (one is 2 and the other one is 7), me and my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s brother and his wife. We are looking to make this 4 nights a memorable trip. But since this area is not a touristic destination (thanks god :), it is a little difficult to find many appropriate informations online with regard to this place. So we are a little worried that this place might be only suitable for locals who know how to integrate and enjoy the place and those who know it well. Thus, at this point I need to gather a list of activities, which is proper for our trip. I have few questions and I thought you might be the best person to help me. I am looking forward to hearing from you and thanks for your wonderful blog again. If it wasn’t because of your blog, we would not find this little gem at the heart of Italy. Here are my questions: 1) Everyone in our group is interested to spend at least a day or two around the seaside and beaches of southern Tuscany. We will come there by car, so driving won’t be a problem. But as far as I searched it seems that most of the beaches are too far from our farm (at least those that we were interested in like “Marina di Alberese Beach”). What are some of the closest beaches to our farm? Is it easy to get there by car and are they open to public? 2) Do you have any suggestions for nightlife strolling around our farm? Where do you think is lively at night close by our farm? Some of our friends think that we are going to be absolutely bored during these four nights at our farm and we cannot do much. Do you agree with them or do you think we can plan for our night time, as well as our day time, during our trip? My boyfriend is musician, and he will very much appreciate traditional music of different regions. Do you know of any place/local bar/cafe that plays the Klezmer music at night? 3) Do you know of any place close to our farm that we can play tennis? 4) Do you think it is possible to go for a day ride around the Maremma coasts and do you know of any specific route? Do you think this is a doable plan? 5) Is there any towns, natural reserve regions, hills, parks and historical places, resturants (on budget type though) that you think we “must” absolutely see during our trip? 6) And finally, do you think it is possible (and worth it) to go to Florence for a day and come back to our farm at night? I would really appreciate you answering my questions and any other suggestions would be very much appreciated. I would be grateful to you for ever if you help us to find our way around this region and help us to plan our trip. Thanks so much for your time and considerations, Warmly, Saha
26. August 2015
Happy to help.
You’re staying in my hometown, so the closest beaches are about 40 minutes away in Albinia. My go-to beach is Giannella. It’s not spectacular, but it’s nice and easy to access and free. A lot of locals tend to go further down to Feniglia and they really like it, but that’s on the other side of the coastline and a further 20 minutes away. You can park in the designated public parking spaces. I think the daily fee is €3 or something like that and then follow the path to the beach. The coast is quite long and you can walk down and pick a spot you like.
There will definitely not be any nightlife strolling near your farm. You’re quite a bit outside of your closest town, Manciano, so if you want to go anywhere at night, you will need to drive. There are two wine festivals on around the time you’re visiting, one is in Pitigliano and one is in Manciano. You can check out my events calendar for more details. There are a few nice bars in Manciano. Bar Centrale is the most popular, although there is a very good wine bar on the main strip called I think 444. But it’s the number 1 restaurant in Manciano on tripadvisor if you want to check it out. I might have the name wrong. For Klezmer music you will need to head to Pitigliano. I know they have concerts sometimes during special events. You can drop an email to their tourist information centre or drop in when you’re in town, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Manciano has a tennis court that you can play on. The reception at your agriturismo should be able to help you book it.
You can definitely drive around the coast. We’re not that far from the sea and some gorgeous seaside towns. You can take the Strada Panoramica from Porto Ercole to Porto Santo Stefano. It isn’t the smoothest ride – a lot of it is unpaved – but it’s the only coastal road we have. It starts just outside of Porto Ercole. You can follow the signs or ask at the local tourist office.
Definitely Pitigliano, the Saturnia hot springs if you don’t have a problem with the faint smell of sulphur, Sovana and Sorano are gorgeous, the Parco della Maremma is our best nature park and Da Paolino is the best budget-friendly restaurant in Manciano, although I prefer il Miravalle – it’s not as pretty, but is more authentic. The best pizza in the Maremma as far as I’m concerned is at Pizzeria Osee – also in Manciano.
Yes, you can most definitely do a day trip to Florence. My husband and I have done it many times. You’ll need to leave early and the trip takes about 2 and a half hours, but I would recommend it, especially if you’ve never been to Florence.
All the best and hope that helps x
Thanks for the advice! We are currently looking into staying in Manciano! I am attempting to outline our travel route and have gotten as far as a train from Sienna to Grossetto, but having difficulty in finding the bus routes from Grossetto to Manciano. I read your page about public transport, but wondering if you have any advice in this regards. When I searched the tiemme site, it said that no routes were available…
26. August 2015
Hi Elisa, I have a trip booked for Jan. 2016 to Florence while there I ‘m very interested in visiting the Saturnia hot springs. I’m not able to find a train schedule and are you able to give me an idea of travel time.
26. August 2015
Hi! It’s a very long trip, so you might want to consider staying a night in Manciano. I’m not sure you can do the entire trip back and forth from Florence on public transport in one day. You need to catch the train from Florence to Grosseto. Then hop on a bus (either the 41/P or 8/G) to Manciano and then catch another bus to Saturnia. You can plan your trip on the Tiemme website, which is unfortunately in Italian, but Google translate can help. Here’s the link: http://www.tiemmespa.it/index.php/Viaggia-con-noi/Orari-e-linee/Grosseto/Extraurbano
You’re looking at at least 3 hours of travel if all the various transports line up.
I just purchased your book and look forward to learning more about the area. The love of my life and I are considering visiting from the 25th of October. I am a retired winegrower and would love to know more about the wines of the area. We love to stay in romantic cottages. Do you suggest looking near the ocean or more inland at that time. Any assistance would be great. We are staying the week before in an airbnb in Rome. Many thanks , Forrest
10. August 2015
I was just about to answer your Ask Me question! Thanks for buying the guidebook. I shipped it out to you this morning, so it should arrive soon. Antinori is definitely a large vineyard, but we have plenty of our own local ones that are just as good. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Morellino di Scansano. It’s our local DOCG wine. We think of it as the rebel version of Chianti. It packs a punch and isn’t as delicate or as fancy as other DOCG red wines you might know about. Morellino is the local name for Sangiovese.
As wine lovers, you can’t miss out on Scansano and Magliano in Toscana. They are the heartlands of the Morellino di Scansano. As for vineyard, Terenzi is the biggest one here. They do fantastic wine tours, but when you mentioned horses and wine, you made me think of a vineyard/agriturismo/equestrian school that’s near my hometown, Manciano, which you might love. The vineyard is called Vini Montauto (http://www.montauto.org). They organise tours and tastings and make a great red wine with Sangiovese grapes.
His wife has an equestrian school/agriturismo that is across the road from the vineyard, which is convenient. It’s called Pietriccio Rosso (http://www.pietricciorosso.com). The website might not be in English, but they speak good English. They have Arabian horses as well as the local Maremman workhorses, which are beautiful animals.
Another great equestrian school near me is called il capannone (http://www.agriturismoilcapannone.it/). I mentioned it because it’s near a lovely town called Montemerano, also near me, which I know has some gorgeous Air BnB properties that I think you would love. Montemerano is one of Italy’s official most beautiful villages and has a lovely atmosphere, considering that you’re visiting in October.
You can of course stay near the sea, but along with being quiet chilly, you also risk missing out on a lot simply because most of the locals will have packed up shop for the season. The Maremma’s seasides are vibrant from June-Sept, but can be quiet depressing outside of tourism season. In that respect inland is better and you might be able to catch the tail end of some of the wine harvest festivals if you stay around Scansano and Magliano in Toscana. You’ll also be very close to our famous hot springs!
A final note, if you’re interested in organic wines, we have an organic vineyard called Fattoria La Maliosa, which is the same area. They make entirely bio and organic red and white wines and organise wine tours, I think.
Let me know if you have any other questions.