I’m always getting emails from people who want to see all the Maremma, but don’t have the time. What are the unmissable sights? they ask me. Well, all of it, but if I had to choose, the Fiora Valley.
Okay, so maybe I’m biased because it’s my home. I live in Manciano, the ‘business’ hub of the Fiora Valley and I’m surrounded by some seriously spectacular towns. Here are ones you can’t miss:
One of Italy’s official ‘most beautiful towns’, Montemerano isn’t much to look out from the outside, but don’t let that fool you. Its medieval heart is a menagerie of lovingly preserved palazzos and flower-filled piazzas. I think people are blown away by just how quaint Montemerano is. You don’t expect to find such a serene and humbly beautiful town in Italy anymore. You’ll feel like you’re the only tourist to have discovered it.
top sight: The wall-to-wall frescoes of the Chiesa di San Giorgio
best eats: Passaparola with its homemade pasta and wild boar mains
My personal favourite and purportedly the oldest city in Italy. I’m not going to mention the hot springs because if you haven’t heard of them already then you’ve been living under a rock. I love Saturnia because it embraces its Roman and Etruscan roots. I’ve never seen another Tuscan town that so fully breathes its antiquity. You can’t walk far in Saturnia without stumbling across relics that are millennia old.
top sight: the Roman burial tombstones in the main piazza
best eats: I Due Cippi, pricy, but perfectly placed to people watch
Since so few people live in Sovana, it has the look of a movie set without a flower bud out of place. In the past, Sovana held serious artistic clout and was a haven for poets, musicians and artists. The town remains that way today with plenty of artisans producing gorgeous ceramics and dyed silks.
top sight: il Duomo with its columns carved with Biblical scenes
best eats: Osteria dell’Oro pushing the boundaries with its olive oil ice cream
The golden child of the Maremma. You can’t write anything about Southern Tuscany without mentioning her and her majestic tufo buildings. The town is carved out of its rocky cliff so you don’t know where the manmade ends and nature begins. Pitigliano is more beautiful on the outside than within, so make sure you get plenty of pictures, but the town has some amazing shops.
top sight: The Jewish ghetto
best eats: Il Tufo Allegro – an old hand that makes Maremman classics