Mortelliccio is a really lovely beach in Piombino-Riotorto territory, along a part of Maremma's coastline that is a national park: the Parco Naturale della Sterpaia. And, as with many of Piombino's beaches, it holds, year after year, a "Bandiera Blu": a Blue Flag award for water and environmental quality.
These photos were taken on an afternoon at the very end of September, when the temperature at 5pm was 24 °C and at 7pm still 22 °C. And the day after when a storm was brewing - you could feel it in the air and the growing waves - and rain predicted for that night and the next day, but it was warmer still at 26 °C. And that rain did come in bucket loads!
I know I have said it many times before, but if you are planning a trip to this part of Italy and don't know when would be the best time to visit, then take it from me the months of May and September will give you all the warmth and sun you need but without any of the crowds. Not that Maremma is known for its crowds :)) But even its beaches are well loved and visited during the summer months, especially July and even more so in August.
At the end of summer/ beginning of autumn, Maremma's waters become home to the "Pulmone di mare" (the lung of the sea) or the "Lampadari marini" as it is also known locally", the jellyfish Rhizostoma pulmo.
It is a beautiful medusa that looks like a chandelier and moves through the water with a whole-body throbbing motion, from which it gets its colloquial name.
Reaching up to 60 cm in diameter and 10kg in weight, it is the biggest jellyfish in these parts and in the Mediterranean.
The one we found washed-up on the beach was, unfortunately near the end of its life. But this one was photographed by local photographer in the waters of another Maremma beach, Le Rocchette near Castiglione della Pescaia.
My hat goes off to the authorities looking after this coastal park - the Parco Costiero della Sterpaia - as it is clear they have put considerable thought into its protection: there are signs posted at intervals throughout the length of the beaches in the park telling you that it is a protected habitat and not to enter - a message which I am pleased to note nearly everyone heeds - and the dune reinforcements are built with natural materials with a low visual impact.
If you get bored of sitting on the beach, then you can take a guided walk of the protected area of woodland behind the dunes called the, "Bosco della Sterpaia". You will need to telephone 0565 226445 first for information and to book.
Both couldn't be easier. The road that takes you directly to the beach also takes you to the neighbouring beaches of Il Pino and Carbonifera. Both of which are also in the Sterpaia Park. It is a straight - must be Roman - and quiet stretch that is ideal for walking and cycling with a variety of accommodation along its length, particularly campsites.
There is ample shaded - good on you Piombino planners :) - car parking at the end of the road on the left where you cannot drive any further without ending up on the beach itself. And lots more spaces - this time without shade covers - on your right.
It is a pay and display car park with different rates for both high and low season. Some months are completely free, except for weekends and public holidays.
The canal that runs behind the shore and next to the car park is the "Fosso Cervia", where you will more than likely spot a "nutria" (Coypu), or two.
You can even get to Mortelliccio by train. The train station - Vignale-Riotorto stop - is located at the beginning of the access road. The walk, or cycle, to get onto the sands is 1.7 kilometres long.
If you have a canine pal with you, then there is a section of beach called Dog Beach - well, it would be wouldn't it! - that is just a short walk from the car park. It starts at the northern end of Mortelliccio beach where another canal called the "Fosso Corniaccia" enters the sea, and even has its own car park signposted opposite that for Mortelliccio. It is cat friendly too, but I have to say I have never seen a cat being taken to a Maremma beach in the years that I have walked or played on them.
You will notice if you do make the trip to Dog Beach, that most locals and holiday makers - especially out of the summer season - don't draw the distinction between a beach designated for pets and one on which they are not allowed.
The entrance to the beach takes you through Bagno Il Elia which, in its wooden chalet complex, has everything you could possibly need from not only its reception, but a Bazaar shop, and "infermeria" (nurse).
NB. The Bagno Il Elia may look like a collection of beach bungalows, but the wooden chalets aren't and they don't offer accommodation.
At the beach entrance you will find a restaurant and bar, the La Baracchina Verde. NOTE: It does serve fish of the day, but otherwise its seafood dishes are from frozen fish.
I haven't eaten there and the prices are a little on the high side, although comparable to most of Maremma's beach restaurants. But for a spot to dine whilst the sun sets, out of town and with no other buildings around, it takes some beating.
Fish antipasti prices will set you back €9,00, €10,00 and €12,00, pasta first courses from €12,00, and "secondi piatti" - main dishes - from €13,00 with salad etc on side from €4,00.
If you are a client of the bagno you can access their free wi-fi; so you want to you can even browse the internet on your iPad, read your emails, download a new book to read on your Kindle Fire, or even write a page like from the beach :)
There are two. A photo of the Parco Costiero della Sterpaia information map. Click on the image to view a larger version.
The central red triangle is the dog beach area I mentioned. The second red triangle, at the right-hand edge of the map, is another beach called Dog Beach, next to Perelli beach.
And a satellite map with the railway station marked on.
View of the medieval tower on the beach at Torre Mozza with the lovely castled hill town of Scarlino in the background.
If you walk north along the shore there is Perelli beach, a favourite spot for fishermen and sunset photographers alike.
And south along the sands will take you to the all public Il Pino beach, with its one bar tucked away behind the dunes perfect for picking-up an aperitivo, or hiring a sun lounger for when you can't be bothered to bring your own or arrive on the spur of the moment without one.
Explore some more...