What can I say? When you arrive at Cala Violina beach you immediately know that it is a special place. And when you leave its soft white sands you also know that memories of your visit will stay with you for a long time.
Cala Violina is a stunning white sand cove that, for me, is right out of a 007 James Bond film. It is one of Maremma's most beautiful of Tuscany beaches and, indeed, holds first place in the official listings of the very best beaches in Italy.
Situated within the Golfo di Follonica (Gulf of Follonica), the heart of the Riserva Naturale delle Bandite di Scarlino (Bandite di Scarlino Nature Reserve) and Le Costiere di Scarlino Area Naturale Protetta di Interesse Locale (the Coast of Scarlino Protected Natural Area of Local Interest), it is completely unspoilt.
And, it is a "spiaggia libera", a public beach, free of rows of bars and parasols.
My first sighting of Cala Violina was from a "gommone", rubber dinghy, and the sight took my breath away... It was early morning and the beach was completely deserted. The water of the Tyrrhenian Sea here is, believe me, crystal clear and I could see the details of the sand bed below and small fish darting about. The whole thing sparkled in the morning sun.
As we rounded the promontory of Punte Francese that separates Cala Martina from Cala Violina, the half moon of white sand that is the small cove - caletta - with the green of the wood behind, opened up before me. Wow!
I was told by my partner that when you walk upon the sand it emits musical notes like the sound of a violin, and hence wherein its name lies. I was sceptical to say the least, but life in Italy has many pleasant surprises, so ... We swam ashore and I can tell you that the sands really do emit a sound when you walk upon them! You need to listen hard, but they do.
I had the whole of the beach to myself for nearly an hour whilst my partner went sub aqua fishing.
Most of the pictures on this page were taken on a warm early January afternoon. Again, pure bliss.
In order to hear the musical notes you will need to visit the beach off season and during the week, or very early in the day, when the beach is empty.
Boats and dinghys etc may only approach the shore as far as the 200 metre limit. So if you are thinking of visiting the beach this way - I can highly recommend it - you will need to swim ashore with your belongings.
The gorgeous photograph at the top of this page is by kind permission of daberto.
Cala Violina lies within the territory of the commune of Scarlino, in Maremma Grossetana. The beach is only accessible by foot, bike or horse! There are two options.
The first and definitely the most direct access is from the only car park at the end of a private - and very pitted - dirt track access road off the SS322 between Marina di Scarlino and Pian d'Alma.
At the south-western corner of the car park you will find the start of a footpath through the woods and the continuation of a private (non-vehicular) access road to the beach.
The information notice board at this point gives the distance to the beach as 1.5km.
I have walked both the footpath and the track many times and for me the later is shorter and easier going.
We tend to take the woodland footpath on the way to the beach and the track on the way back when we are keen to be home.
In any event, they intersect at various points, so you can chop and change.
If you opt for the footpath, follow the "Sentiero Cala Violina" sign.
The evidence of cinghiale in these woods is profound: the whole of the woodland floor is dug up where they have rooted for food.
When you arrive at the top of the cove, with tantilising glimpses of the sea below, there are two signs indicating both to your left and right for Cala Violina. These are the two footpaths down to the beach.
Regular care and attention is taken by the authorities to fence off and protect other over trodden paths down to the beach and guide visitors to the just these two.
On a previous visit, my family and I had taken the 'path' to the left.
A little steep in places, with roots and holes etc along the way, my sister slipped and arrived rather quicker at the bottom than she had anticipated!
This time I chose the path to the right to find that it had been stepped and was very easy going.
I'll check on the former again on my next visit.
The second option, and substantially longer route (3.8km), is to take the private (non-vehicular) access road to the rocky cove of Cala Martina and then continue a further 1.8km to Cala Violina. See the Cala Martina page for further information about this route.
This satellite map shows in a way that photographs taken on the ground cannot, the position of the stunning cove of Cala Violina at the edge of the Bandite di Scarlino hills where they meet the Maremma Grossetana coastline and the Tyrrhenian Sea. You can also clearly see the access tracks
The Bandite di Scarlino is a protected nature reserve of some 6,000 hectares of densely wooded hills - home to many wild boar, "cinghiale" - and agricultural land.
The red icons mark
The blue icons mark:
The only car park for the cove and beach is in private ownership, with access along a very pitted one-way single track dirt road from the SS322 north of Pian D'Alma.
I suspect that like most things along the coast the condition of the access road will be improved for the beginning of summer season, but if not take care! (Note: It now has been.)
Payment is at the manned kiosk upon arrival. Expect to pay around Euros 6,00 for a car for the whole day, and Euros 3,00 for an afternoon.
Sat on the beach looking out across the Tyrrhenian Sea - Mar Tirreno - the whole of the Isola D'Elba (Island of Elba) is laid out before you. The Island of Elba is also a spectacular and very special place - the subject of a whole new website perhaps! - and holds a very special place in my heart. If you have the time whilst staying in Maremma, the short ferry trip to the island from Piombino (or the much longer one from Livorno) will not dissappoint .... but I digress!
Immediately to your left is the promontory of Punte le Canne, which divides Cala Violina from the next cove of Cala Civette. At the southern point of which sits the private " Torre Civette", tower of Civette.
The next and larger promontory is that of the "millionaire" sailing port and holiday home destination of Punta Ala. Off of which lie the small rocky islands of Scoglio dello Sparviero and Troia.
To your right is the promontory of Punte Francese, the continuation of the Golfo di Follonica, until you reach the ferry port and city of Piombino. In your view across the gulf to Piombino, lies the tiny island of Cerboli, "L'Isola di Cerboli", quarryed for rocks to build the port of Piombino and now deserted.
The cove is a protected spot from both the Gregale and Scirocco winds and swimming here is just pure bliss.
It is great for children too, as the waters close to shore are shallow and warm, and full of little fish.
Unlike Cala Martina, there are no "Ricci di Mare" - Echinoidea sea urchins - on the "sabbia" (sand) seabed, as their habitat is rocky substrata.
At the top of the cove there is shaded picnic area under the trees, with fixed wooden tables and benches.
During the summer months you will also find a refreshment van parked here selling panini and drinks etc.
There are two agriturismo's - Tuscany farmhouses - close by: one along the main coastal road, close to the car park access track. And the second off the track itself. Neither of which I know well enough to be able to recommend them.
But if a bed and breakfast with a perfumed garden and a castle view is up your street, then one of the very best in Maremma is just a short drive away near in the medieval hill town of Scarlino. The superb Giardino dei Sugheri only 15 kilometres from Cala Violina, whose owners will happily loan you bikes to explore the Maremma countryside to your hearts content.
And, also on a hill next to Scarlino, these wonderful cosy Tuscany cottages that will have you feeling at home from the moment you walk up their garden paths and through their front doors. And leave you rested at the end of your holiday in a way you probably haven't felt in years.
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