Now if you are looking at a map of Maremma and have located the (lovely) castled Tuscan hill town of Scarlino, you will probably be wondering whether I am either a little mad, have drunk one glass too many of the local Maremma wine, or am pushing poetic licence a tad too far to write a page called "Scarlino beaches": after all Scarlino is situated some seven kilometres inland from the coast.
But bear with me as, I'm not (that) mad etc yet! The answer lies in middle ages history. Scarlino's location was a very important and strategic one for the control of activity along this part of the Tuscan coastline and the mines and their profits from the metal rich hills behind. Whoever ruled Scarlino's fortress - that expanded to become a castle - also owned the town and its surrounding lands. The territory of which ranged all the way down to the sea. You won't be surprised to learn that the fort and castle was fought after and changed hands more than once... but that is another page (Castello di Scarlino).
Today the Comune of Scarlino still controls the expansive wooded hills behind this part of the coast called the "Bandite di Scarlino": a nature reserve home to wild boar, deer and a wealth of woodland flora, that reaches reaches all the way down to the sea along the coast to Castiglione della Pescaia territory.
The photo above of Cala Violina is by kind permission of Davide Bertini
Starting at the northern end of Scarlino's boundary with the town of Follonica - walking along the beach you won't notice the change of territory unless you are particularly vgilant about reading beach information signs whilst on holiday! - the change from seaside town ruled beach to medieval castled town control takes you from wide sandy stretches within easy reach of bars, restaurants, children's play parks, supermarkets, the lot, into wild woodlands that will require you to burn a few calories to reach their shores!
And the white medieval coastal look-out tower of Torre Civette, that you can see from practically any point within the Gulf of Follonica, fittingly marks the boundary along with the river Alma at its feet, of Scarlino territory and the beginning of that of Castiglione della Pescaia and Punta Ala.
The link for each beach will take you to a page full of photos and information and a video so you can take a walk along their shores from your iPad or desk...
Now, although I tend avoid Follonica's town centre beaches (I prefer my beaches wilder and less populated), you will often find me happily taking a beach walk along La Polveriera and Puntone di Scarlino (they run into each other). There is easy parking from behind the pine woods that back both and you can be on the sands - long stretches of sandy beach - within two minutes of arriving.
The wide, long and soft stretches of soft sands at Puntone di Scarlino beach are perfect for young children to paddle around in as well as man and his best friend needing a cool down in the heat of the summer!
The beach is divided by the mouth of the river Pecora and both the pedestrian bridge that crosses it and the shallow waters when the tide is out make for perfect line fishing locations. The beach is also known as Kite Beach, as the onshore wind conditions are ideal for kitesurfing and a local kite school has its summer outlet here.
"Cala" in Italian means "cove" and those of the coves Cala Rossa, Cala Martina, Cala Civette and Cala Violina, all require a trek through woodlands to reach them. But you will be rewarded with beaches that are free of bars and "bagno" beach parasol and sun bed facilities.
Cala Rossa and Cala Martina are both rocky coves, whereas Cala Violina and Cala Civette are sandy ones.
Now, if you didn't already know it from my other pages, Cala Violina is very beautiful (especially if you visit out of the height of summer or if you can't, early morning/early evening), is officially the best beach in Italy! AND, its sands sing the notes of a violin when you walk upon them: but you will have to so it when the beach is empty to hear the notes.
Not the prettiest of Maremma's beaches by far, but if you don't want to make the full hike to the next two coves and the thought of having one all to yourself all day sounds just fine, then Cala Terra Rossa 2 (it is called number two, as there are two coves of the same name here - number one is inaccessible) might just be for you. It even comes with its own "crayons" ;)
Cala Martina has two rocky coves where you will find yourself walking upon, not only large pebbles, but a bouncy dense, metres thick, drift of dried alga.
Take provisions with you and Cala Violina is the kind of place where you could easily pass the whole of a day relaxing... make a sand castle or two, read a book, get some sun, eat a picnic (watch out for the large black ants near the woods which love fruit cake!), take a nap listening to the waves lapping at the shore, go rock pool exploring (at the southern end), and swim in its crystal clear shallow turquoise waters. Bliss.
If you are holidaying in Tuscany during July and August, you will find this beach full of visitors despite the trek needed to reach it (Italians love wild beaches too and many German, Dutch, Austrian and Swiss families know about Maremma and return year after year here). But, that said, if you plan to do something else during the day - like a visit to Castiglione della Pescaia - and arrive late afternoon, by about 6.30pm most other families will already have packed-up and the beach can (nearly) be all yours.
One of Maremma's very best B&B's is nestled within Mediterranean macchia on a hillside close to medieval Scarlino - you can see the town and its castle spread along the crest of their own hilltop from its perfume-filled gardens. A beautiful and tranquil haven to return to after blissful days out exploring. One of myvery favourites.
Explore some more...