Riva del Sole beach, Castiglione della Pescaia, is a very, very, beautiful Maremma beach any time of the year, but off season... Well. It is a piece of paradise. All of your own.
All just a lovely walk or cycle from one of Tuscany's most favoured by the rich and famous coastal towns, pretty Castiglione della Pescaia. Where, when you are chilled-out big time from lazy days on the towns beaches (for it has more than one), you can do what all the visiting Italians will be doing and "fare una passeggiata" (take a walk) around town, go shopping, and take in an aperitivo in one of its beach or harbour bars.
Feeling a little more energetic? Take a walk up its central steep hill into its historic centre, stare at the dazzling coastal view and dream some more.
Which is no doubt why the Swedish company RESO built a holiday village in the pine woods behind the beach for its employees in 1957 (now the Riva del Sole Hotel & Spa).
If you are thinking that visiting out of season will be at the expense of feeling the warmth of the sun on your face and catching a tan, well you couldn't be more wrong. For here in Maremma, September and October the daily temperatures still top the mid to high twenty degree C's and I'm sat typing this on 4 November with all the windows in the house open and the occasional family of tourists who are here are still in shorts and T-shirts (albeit with a jumper for the mornings and evenings).
I went and sat on its fine pale sands of Riva del Sole beach on the morning of 30 October when Maremma sunshine temperatures were still in their mid twenty degrees C, with just mating butterflies and dragonflies and an occasional little lizard for company. And I got a tan!
In the summer months the sands will be lined with rows of sun beds that belong to the Riva del Sole Resort & Spa: the majority of the "pineta" (pine wood) behind this Castiglione della Pescaia beach belongs to the resort and the beach is reserved for its guests. And other beach concessions.
But in the spring, late autumn, and winter there are none. Just a long open stretch of pristine sands that lie within the nature reserve of the "Tombolo da Castiglione della Pescaia e Marina di Grosseto".
In the far distance, sat on the crest of the wooded hill is the old look-out tower of the Torre di Cala Galera. And, on the promontory the fortress of Forte delle Rocchette.
Looking south, Riva del Sole reaches the beach of Capezzolo, tucked under the southern promontory that divides this stretch of sand from the Castiglione della Pescaia town beaches of Ponente and Levante.
The blue hills in the distance are those of Monte Argentario, along Maremma's Costa d'Argento - Silver Coast.
Riva del Sole beach in October. If you hear the slight sound of wind on my camera microphone it is much exaggerated: there wasn't even a slight breeze that morning and I ended-up sunbathing on the sands! Those locals in the know - in two hours I only saw five people - had brought their costumes and books for the day.
I know I say it a lot throughout these pages, but Maremma in the spring and autumn is pure bliss.
The Tombolo da Castiglione della Pescaia e Marina di Grosseto" is a protected area - a Site of Community Interest, a Special Protection Area and a Site of Regional Interest - within a fifteen kilometre stretch of pine wood called the Pineta di Tombolo that runs behind Maremma's coast from Castiglione della Pescaia to the wetland of Padule della Trappola, near Principina a Mare.
Amongst many animals, it is home to the Herman's tortoise, the Crested cuckoo and the European Roller.
And the very rare Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) - "Fratino" in Italian - which nests in the sands not far from the water line and for which the cleaning and preparation of the beach - on other beaches done by huge tractors that clear the driftwood and rake the sands, but here the driftwood must be left and smaller machinery used - isn't permitted until right at the last minute before the high holiday season begins.
I saw one!
Never seen one on a beach? Take a look: their camouflage is incredible. (NB. This was taken in Maremma, but in a WWF site in Abruzzo.)
Amongst the flora you will find the Mediterranean shrubs of aromatic rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Lillatro (Phillyrea angustifolia), astic (Pistacia lentiscus), myrtle, the holm oak (Quercus ilex), and cork oaks (Quercus suber) - "le sughere".
And further back into the hind dunes, the pines of "pino marittimo" (Pinus pinaster) the maritime pine, and "pino domestico" (Pinus domestico) - the stone or umbrella pine.
Parking is nigh on impossible in the summer if you aren't renting a villa or part of one with its own parking, or staying at the Rive del Sole Resort and Spa hotel complex.
Out of season, when no one is around except the guys doing maintenance on those same villas, you will be able to choose where you want to park; the only other traffic will be the morning post lady nipping in and out very fast!
If lazing on the beach all day will drive you crazy - I can never sit still for more than a few minutes! - then how about a surfing or sailing lesson?
There is a water sports outfit located in the dunes that offers surfing and wind surfing courses for beginners and children alike, as well as advanced private lessons, eight hour sailing, and catamaran courses. If you don't have your gear with you they have got that taken care of too: you can rent out anything from a sailing boat to a banana boat, from a bodyboard to a SUP board to a canoe, a waterski to a motorboat...
Never tried windsurfing? On Wednesday afternoons at 16:00 you can have a go with a one hour trial windsurfing lesson for Euro 5,00. Contact www.rdswatersports.it
Which Castiglione della Pescaia beach is going to be your favorite? Take a look at them all here.
Explore some more...