The cove of Cala Civette captures hearts. She might be in the shadows of her musical sister Cala Violina - without a doubt, Maremma's most famous beach and one of the very best in the whole of Italy - but for those who know that she exists, it is her that they adore and will go to lengths above and beyond what thousands of others would, just to lie on her fine sands.
Oh, herein lies an unhappy tale. Because there used to be a short route through the Mediterranean macchia of the Bandite di Scarlino reserve, albeit through private property, but with the permission of the Italian owners and the respect of visitors all had gone well without much ado for years.
The route was via the single-track road from Pian d'Alma, down to the base of the white tower, Torre Civette. Leave your car on the opposite side of the river Alma, adjacent to the campsite property, and from there on foot through the land belonging to the owners of Torre Civette.
But in 2014, Torre Civette was sold by its longstanding owners to a foreign purchaser, whilst restoring etc the tower, also enclosed his property with wire fencing with the intention, and immediate effect, of blocking-off public access from the Pian d'Alma track to Cala Civette beach.
At one and the same time - as I understand it, because the land also formed part of the Torre Civette property - the fairly large public car park adjacent to the river and which also served Capanna Civinini beach, was permanently closed.
Summer 2015 came and an uproar ensued between visitors who had been coming to Cala Civette and Capanna Civinini for years and the new owners, in which the Comune di Scarlino - the local public authority for this part of Maremma's coast - also became embroiled.
The Comune repeatedly reiterated that Cala Civette remained a public beach. In fact, when you arrive on the sands via the only footpath access that now exists - see below - there is one singular sign to that effect with the insignia of the Comune di Scarlino. However, in contrast, there are lots if private property and video surveillance signs along the whole length of the beach. And managed to breach a compromise with the land owners.
A section of the owners land - a kilometre's walk from the mouth of the river and the footpath alongside it to Capanna Civinini beach - was cleared and made available for - free - public parking from 1 July to 31 August. After which, it would return to private usage. Although in September 2015 it was still open.
It has to be said that there is another route from here to Cala Civette, but it requires you to wade or swim depending on the water level in the river and tide, from the Capanna Civinini across the mouth of the river Alma, across the rocks below Torre Civette, to the sands of the cove.
It is an option that could leave you stranded and not one I would recommend if you have children, unless you know the place well.
A side note. A part of me cannot help but wonder whether the foreign purchaser believed that Cala Civette cove and its stunning sandy beach came with the property of Torre Civette and its surrounding lands. And, having subsequently found out to the contrary, has done everything possible to make it as difficult to reach as possible, unless you don't mind a fairly long walk. Which, many people do.
TIP Take plenty of water with you. Long stretches of the route are under direct sun. And, whilst there is, on occasions, a portable bar at the top of Cala Violina, there are no facilities at Cala Civette. Just beach. And no shade (see below).
But, if you don't - and it isn't a difficult walk - then you will now find that you practically have the whole place to yourself. For this and another, significant reason.
For the walk takes you right past - including glimpses of its sands and crystal clear blue waters - one of the very best beaches in the whole of Italy and certainly Maremma's most famous. That of the singing sands of Cala Violina. And who, faced with such beauty, would pass up an opportunity to sit on those sands and swim in those waters.
Well, I would. But because Cala Violina and I are already good friends. And because the sands of her lesser known little sister are just as fine. The sea is just as blue. The view is just as good. And it is all mine when I get there.
In short, you park at the Cala Violina car park and walk through the Bandite di Scarlino until you are looking at the beach. Then you head south - left, with the coast on your right - along the coastal track all the way to Cala Civette. Another kilometre, 20 minutes walk.
Full details of the location of the car park and the "sentiero" footpaths can be found in the satellite map below. And photographs of the route are included in the Cala Violina beach page; link at the bottom of the page.
The first glimpse of Cala Civette from the coastal track from Cala Violina as you walk through the the velvet green cloak that is the nature reserve of the Bandite di Scarlino.
The sands of the cove are on the left hand side under the tower of Torre Civette. The long stretch of sand that you can see running from the river Alma mouth north to Punta Ala are those of Capanna Civinini; another of my very favourite beaches in Maremma and also amongst the very best.
The tantalising glimpse you will have with your zoom.
As you continue along the coastal track you will spot this fence; which is where you now need to go off-track to reach the beach.
The track used to carry on - well it still does, it is just now it is fenced in - to give you a much easier access through the pineta to the beach. Now you need to take a "path" - actually it is more an water erosion gullies and slippy underfoot - directly down to the northern-most tip of the the beach.
If you continue along the track and a little while later take a left where it forks, it will take you through the Bandite di Scarlino all the way to the Cala Violina car park. See the satellite map.
Head down towards the sea along this path. It isn't formally sign-posted! Someone has erased the wording from the wooden sign-post that would have indicated the beach; the type that you will have seen at Cala Violina.
Unfortunately, not much of the path is left in places; just water gullies. Making the going slippery and a tad difficult. This isn't an access that a pushchair or child's buggy will get down unless carried :(
The view from the sands.
Important note the car park area that you can see in the satellite map - if it doesn't update after I write this - is no longer. Well, the land is still there! But it is now closed off to vehicular access, (belonging as it does to the new owner of the Torre Civette).
Cala Civette is home to quite a few lovely lizards called "le lucertole". If you head on down to the southern end of the cove, you'll spot them sunbathing on the rocks near the busy black ants that also have a home there.
I managed to take a photo of this one with his tongue out: a first for me!
And then, when one of these fellows thinks the coast is clear, you'll spot them darting from the back of the beach to the safe haven of a clump of plants growing in the sand. Not sure which clump? Tell your little ones to tread gently in the sands and look for these markings: their foot and tail prints :)
Can you spot this one? In the bright October afternoon sunlight his camouflage was excellent amongst the rocks and driftwood on the beach.
And if photographing little lizards isn't your kind of thing to do, then this cove is also great for sitting on rock and reading, or line-fishing. And the fishing is good here; "Spigola" (Sea bass) and "Orata" (Gilt-head bream) especially.
Unfortunately, the whole of the "pineta" is now enclosed in fencing. At the northern end where the access path takes you and where this photograph was taken, by open wooden fencing where the owner of the land's boat is kept. But the whole remainder of the beach is backed by wire fencing, with a LOT of private property notices.
Which means, especially for any mum's reading this, that you will need to take a means of making shade with you. And that's a long hike to carry a sun parasol! But one of those really lightweight, throw in the air and it opens automatically, beach tents, would be perfect for here.
These photos were taken on an October afternoon when it was still warm enough to catch a tan and go swimming :)
And if you are contemplating ignoring the signs with a view to seeking some shade in this part of the pineta, be aware that, according to the signs, the whole place is under video surveillance.
The view on the walk back as the sun was setting...
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