We had our first real summer’ s day over the weekend in Manciano and, of course, I’m jumping out of my skin to get outside.
Unfortunately, I have to work. So I plan to do the next best thing, which is write a post to help all my intrepid travellers make the most of the gorgeous weather in my stead… living vicariously just took on a whole new meaning.
This is the second what-to-do-in-summer-when-you’re-not-sightseeing post I’ve written. If you want to see the first, have a look here.
The rules remain the same. No sightseeing city stuff and no Saturnia hot springs. I think this might be the only time in the year when you wouldn’t want to be bathing in gloriously warm water, so it’s no real loss.
And beside, I have three activities that are so exciting and so enjoyable, you’ll be saying, ‘hot springs who?’ in no time.
1. Rocking and rolling in Gavorrano
Every summer, the city of Gavorrano in the Metalliferous Hills puts on a series of twilight concerts in its spectacular Teatro delle Rocce.
These concerts are held throughout June, July, August and September at Gavarrano’s Parco Minerario. Teatro delle Rocce literally means Rock Theatre and it’s an incredible sight.
Modeled after the amphitheatres of Ancient Rome, it can seat hundreds of people and has been carved from the same huge slabs of rocks that used to be mined in Gavorrano and its surroundings.
The concerts range from dance to opera, poetry to straight up theatre. There are events for children and adults, and even if you don’t understand Italian, the atmosphere is unforgettable.
For more information and a copy of this year’s concerts, visit the tourist information centre in Gavorrano. You can’t miss it, it’s in the centre of town!
2. Cooking up a storm in Grosseto
It’s about time I gave a nod to the Maremma’s capital – the always timeless and effortlessly elegant Grosseto.
Every Tuesday, Grosseto hosts a huge farmer’s market in the park just outside its city walls.
While the market is on all year round, it’s particularly enticing in the summer months when the stalls are overflowing with fresh herbs, ripe berries and deliciously plump tomatoes to chase away the last of the winter blues.
If you’re looking to taste a little bit of the Tuscan sunshine then this market for you. Some of the vendors have been coming here for years. They’re extremely friendly and know their produce.
You can pick up gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables for a steal, not to mention some great locally made cheeses, proscuitto and bread… I sense a picnic in the making!
But if you’re serious about your food then why not sign up for a cooking course? Run by locals with some serious food know how, Grosseto’s many cooking courses are extremely popular in summer.
If you ask me, the season is when the local cuisine shines its brightest with incredible dishes like panzanella and torta delle fragole
Most of the courses will take you on a shopping trip before settling you into a gorgeous provincial kitchen to learn how to make anything from fresh egg pasta to beautifully light fish dishes.
Some of the best cooking schools in and around the capital are:
- Sensini Lounge Time: These guys are the best. Their chefs are local culinary stars and their courses are seriously chic, teaching everything from pasta making to cake decorating. Visit www.loungetime.sensinistyle.com.
- B&B Via Ricasoli: Learn how to make ricotta and spinach stuffed ravioli, acquacotta and cantucci from one of Grosseto’s best chefs. Or go on whole day guided tour of the capital’s markets, so you can select the best fresh produce yourself and learn exactly what makes Tuscan cooking so irresistible. Visit http://www.bebviaricasoli.it/in-cucina.html
- Antica Casale Scansano: Homemade pasta, zuppa contadine (peasant’s soup) and Tuscan sweets, this cooking school is about teaching you the traditional Maremman classics, just like mamma used to make. Visit www.anticocasalediscansano.it/ristorante-toscana/corsi-di-cucina.
- Argentario Golf Resort and Spa: Delivered in English, these classes are about taking Maremma classics and making them even more delicious with biological ingredients. If you want to know how to cook mind blowing Tuscan vegetarian dishes then this is the course for you. Visit www.argentariogolfresortspa.it/maremma-toscana/vino-e-cucina-in-maremma
3. Experience a little slice of Disneyland in Capalbio’s Lago di Burano
The Maremma has three WWF-listed nature parks. Lago di Burano happens to be the most enchanting.
Nicknamed Walt Disney’s lake for its idyllic surroundings and doe-eyed fauna, the nature park is absolutely beautiful all year round, but even more enchanting in the summertime when the rangers run regular evening tours.
From now until the end of August, you can see one of nature’s most beautiful legacies in the amber twilight. Trekking or heavy boots are a must though as the guided tour is on foot for almost 2km through pretty boggy terrain.
While that doesn’t sound particularly relaxing, it’s worth it just to get up close to the majestic flamingos and other birds that come to rest in the parklands.
Sometimes the most memorable holiday experiences are the ones you don’t expect, and there’s nothing quite like seeing a flock of vivid pink flamingos completely at home against the verdant green of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.
The guided tours are held on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6pm. Bookings are essential, so call 0564.898829 or pop into the tourist information centre in Capalbio for directions.