It’s August and that means Italy is on vacation. Every year most of the country takes the month off to go to their favourite beaches, go to new beaches in Calabria or travel overseas to sit on beaches in other countries. Or if you’re very lucky, a combination of the three.
For tourists, it can be both the best and worst time to visit the Maremma. A lot of locals will be out of town, which means only the most tourist-driven stores will be open. There will also be a lot more forestieri – the local name for out-of-towners. That said, it’s also the season for the best festivals and sagre (food festivals), allowing you to eat a different traditional dish virtually every day of the month!
So what should you do in the Maremma this August?
Swim somewhere secluded
There is no point fighting the locals and tourists at the Cascate del Mulino hot springs or the Maremma’s best and better known beaches. Most of them are bordered by camping resorts, where the guests pitch their tent at the start of the month and leave in mid-September.
If positively must head to the beach, pack comfortable shoes and hike until you escape the tourist hordes. Porto Ercole is a great spot to do this. The Strada Panoramica is an uninterrupted stretch of beach that extends for kilometres. Find a car park just outside of the town, take the steps down to the beach and walk towards Porto Santo Stefano until you find somewhere you like. You can do the same in Castiglione della Pescaia from Le Rocchette onwards.
Otherwise, take a leaf from the locals and swim in a river instead. The Fiora River near Manciano is our favourite, but there are plenty of other options.
Beat the heat
Most tourists don’t travel to the Maremma to crowd its museums or archaeological sites. You can visit some of the area’s most amazing museums virtually solo this month. Some of the bigger museums, like Massa Marittima’s archaeological museum and its counterpart in Grosseto will have extended visiting hours and are definitely worth a visit.
The Etruscan city of Roselle, just outside of Grosseto is open until midnight every Thursday in August. I’d also recommend the necropolis outside of Sovana, which is surrounded by forest and extremely cool, in all senses of the word!
Festambiente: A super fun environmental festival with live music, street food stalls and even a mini film festival. It’s held in the beautiful Parco della Maremma every night from 5:30pm. Tickets are €8 if you arrive early. It’s on from August 7 to 15.
Palio Marinaro dell’Argentario: Porto Santo Stefano’s annual boat race around the harbour. Come for the atmosphere – the music, the street vendors selling crepes, candy floss and fried fish and the carnival vibes.
Balestro del Girifalco: Massa Marittima’s twice annual medieval archery competition. Tickets are €8 and can be bought in the main piazza on the day. It’s on August 15.
Le Carriere del 19: Scarlino’s very strange mixed skill competition. Everything you love about Renaissance competitions is here from donkey races to archery to costume parades. It’s a long and much beloved tradition and is on August 19.