Pian d'Alma is a hamlet of predominantly farms and farm houses that is spread along the SP158 road between Follonica and Castiglione della Pescaia, and then divided into four at the crossroads for Tirli in the east and Punta Ala to the south-west.
It sits within the Riserva Naturale delle Bandite di Scarlino, a protected nature reserve of some 6,000 hectares of densely wooded hills and agricultural land. The same hills are home to many "cinghiale" - wild boar - the preparation and cooking of which is a Maremman specialty dish dominating the menus of many of the local restaurants in this area.
Photo of the church of Madonna del Rosario
Any centre of the hamlet that once existed has long since been erased by the SP158 road and the traffic that it carries along this part of the Granducato di Toscana coast. It isn't a place, therefore, to head for for an afternoon's leisurely stroll or exploration.
However, it is a good place to stop - popular amongst locals and tourists alike - for both eating out and the purchase of locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables. At last count there were six restaurants, pizzerias, etc in the hamlet. Two of my favourites are described in the Restaurants in Pian d'Alma page.
And, access to the most beautiful beach in Italy, Cala Violina, is situated just north of the hamlet (be careful not to miss the sign), making Pian d'Alma an ideal stop also for refreshments before or after a visit to this stunning white sandy cove.
One of my favourite things to do in this part of Maremma is just that: to arrive at Cala Violina in the early morning and at lunchtime walk back to the car and drive along the track and short distance into Pian d'Alma for a lazy lunch. Followed by a trip to the sailing port of Punta Ala to walk along the port wall with its open view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, or the pretty old town of Castiglione della Pescaia with its magnificent views across the river plain, sailing port, beaches and sea below.
If I cannot make Cala Violina for early morning, I lunch first and then pass the whole of the afternoon in the cove, staying to watch the sunset over the island of Elba. Either way, it is bliss.
A plate of freshly picked "pomordori" (tomatoes) and "basilico" (basil) with "pane" (bread), salami, and "prosciutto crudo" (Parma ham) with olive oil at Il Baracchino is one of my very favourite meals. Simple, but delicious. There is nothing like the taste and perfume of tomatoes in Italy; their flavour surpasses any others.
The hamlet has a medieval tower - the Torre d'Alma. It was built around the tenth century as part of the properties of the Abbey of San Bartolomeo in Sestinga, near Vetulonia.
There is another medieval tower nearby - Torre Civette - this time sat high up on top of the promontory that divides the beach of Capanna Civinini from the sandy cove of Cala Civette.
Torre Civette is set deep in the characteristic tall Maremman "macchia alta Mediterranea" of oak, Phyllirea and Juniper, it has spectacular views of the Golfo di Follonica and the whole of the beautiful island of Isola d'Elba.
Both towers are now in private ownership.
To take a closer look and/or visit the beach of Capanna Civinini, take the single track (tarmaced) road signposted "Val Molina - Torre Civette" located in the centre of Pian d'Alma at the restaurant "Ristorante Cala Violina". At its end, just before it curves over a small bridge, is the private (no access) entrance road to the tower and then, after the bridge, the perfect spot to access the beautiful long stretch of Capanna Civinini.
The footpath on the southern side of the river - Fosso Alma Nuovo - follows its course until its mouth into the sea and takes you to the northern most point of Capanna Civinini. From here and along the length of this spectacular wide and long (many kilometres) stretch of beach sweeping south to the promontory of Punta Ala, you can have a perfect view of the white Torre.
In the summer, there are a few "bagni" concessions, but Capanna Civinini is mainly a public beach. With soft golden sand, it is great for families, long beach walks, or, for the more energetic, jogging or horse-riding.
Access to the "pineta", pine wood behind the beach is somewhat restricted as it is mainly in the ownership of two camping establishments along this stretch.
The road after the bridge is in a very poor state and takes you past the entrances to the two aforementioned campsites, emerging along the Punta Ala road from the Pian d'Alma crossroads.
Explore some more...