This San Vincenzo beach - the "Spiaggia di Rimigliano" - is the longest of this marina town's beaches and the best: for not only does it hold the prestigious Bandiera Blu award for the excellent quality of the sea water, but the whole of its length lies within a nature reserve.
There are no bars, restaurants or row upon row of regimental sun parasols on the beach here - only the ones you bring yourself! - just wonderful open wind swept beach backed by dunes, Mediterranean macchia and then woodland and blue sea.
My kind of beach!
Rimigliano beach is a whopping six kilometres long along the Costa degli Etruschi - Maremma's spectacular Etruscan coastline - and forms part the 650 hectare Parco Costiero di Rimigliano: a protected nature reserve home to wonderful saline-loving plants and many wild boar!
Off season is great for beachcombing: you'll find the typical plastic washed ashore amongst collections of wonderful driftwood - sculptures in their own right, the odd fly fish that makes up for the ones we always seem to loose! and masses of beach balls - some of the largest I have seen along the Maremma's shores...
Some interesting facts for you and your children...
These beach balls are special.
Their proper name is "Egagropili" and they are a by-product of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica. Wave action aggregates together the fibres of the plant into a ball, which over time grows and grows.
You'll find lots of them on Maremma's beaches during the winter months. Also known as Neptunes balls, and in Italy as "palle di mare, polpette di mare o patate di mare" - sea balls, meatballs of the sea, or sea potatoes.
Posidonia oceanica is only found in the Mediterranean Sea and is an excellent biological indicator of coastal marine water quality, as it only grows in the cleanest of sea water.
It's floating fruits produced in the spring and autumn are known as the "olives of the sea" - the "l'oliva di mare" in Italian.
The rhizomes of Posidonia oceanica grow very slowly - about one metre in a 100 years - in horizontal or vertical mats across the sea floor, and play a vital role in protecting against coastal erosion.
And one of its colonies - found in 2006 near Ibiza - is considered to be the oldest clonal colony on earth: at eight kilometres wide it is estimated to be over a 100,000 years old.
So when you are playing with those beach balls on Rimigliano beach you aren't just playing with any beach ball!
There are ten well marked access points to the beach through from the main road that runs its length - see map below. The access at point Number 9, near its southern-most end, will take you to one of Tuscany's few officially OK places to bathe in the nude.
Dogs aren't allowed in the reserve, but the next beach along at its most northern-most tip close to San Vincenzo (after access point Number 1) where a water canal enters the sea at C. Cavalleggeri, is a designated dog beach where your canine friends are welcome to bathe and play.
My compliments go out to the tourism authorities along the Etruscan coast in Maremma, for, although the whole of this coastal area and the land that backs it is a nature reserve, the authorities have had the forethought to provide facilities in strategic places that enable visitors and families to spend a great day out here, whilst minimising the damage to the park and its natural inhabitants as a consequence of them doing so.
And they have provided wheelchair access to the beach (see below), toilets and a designated parking area. Bravo!
You are asked to only picnic in the designated areas in the woodland and not on the dunes - you can, of course, picnic on the beach if you want to - but there are lots of picnic tables throughout the length of the woods close to the main pathway that runs parallel with the beach.
There are public toilets and outdoor sinks with clean (not drinking, I don't think) running water facilities and token-operated showers at the beach ends of access points 2, 3, 4, 8 and 10.
A restaurant behind the beach at access point Number 4, a restaurant and bar at Number 8, and a bar, ice-cream parlour and pizzeria at Number 10.
Note: you are not permitted to light fires or camp here.
Click on the image to enlarge
A walk along the entire coastal path of the Parco Costiero di Rimigliano would be a wonderful thing to do on a hot summers day, with its welcome cool shade and easy access to pop onto the beach whenever you want to see the waves and dip your toes in the sea.
The park is full of wild boar: it is hard to spot a patch of woodland floor not turned over by their rootings and fresh ones too! There are even holes in the fence across the main road that divides the park, through which they cross over to the woodland and beach at night! Who says a gorgeous Tuscany beach is meant just to be enjoyed by humans! Especially when the macchia provides covers the dunes right down to the sea.
Find out more about the Parco Costiero di Rimigliano.
Parking is alongside the SP23 Via della Principessa road: there isn't much, but you'll easily find a spot out of season. Or at the southern end of the reserve at the car park by the La Torre Vecchia - the medieval tower opposite the access to Torraccia beach (link to beach page below with car park directions). Otherwise, if you are already staying in San Vincenzo, the your best bet is to catch a bus from the town.
Click on the image to enlarge
The ten access points are well marked and each has its own designated footpath direct to the beach through the woods, macchia and then over the dunes. Please keep to them as the reserve is home to a special variety of plants and animals and tramping through the woodland and across the dunes other than along the marked path ways would destroy their habitat.
Disabled access - raised wooden paths - can be found at access points Number 4, 8 and 10.
The information signs are in both Italian and English and you'll find some great information about the flora, fauna and habitats in the reserve.
At the southern end of the Parco Costiero di Rimigliano you will find Torraccia beach with its tiny harbour.
Around the headland, the rocky coves of Il Pozzino with perfect conditions for snorkelling, then the stunning Baratti Bay and beach. And the hidden cove called Fairy's Hole - Buca delle Fate.
And, to the north, outside of the nature park is the beach called Riva di Etruschi with campsites and hotels etc alongside it.
For a farm holiday within walking distance of town (two kilometres) and the central San Vincenzo beach try the excellent Agriturismo Podere L'Agave farmhouse. It's a lovely 22 hectare organic farm with its own Cinta Senese pigs, olives groves and orchards and serves a hearty breakfast of its own produce which you can eat in your apartment if you prefer to.
Or for camping, then behind this beach at the southern-end in the pine wood of Torre Nuova (the new tower) is the Camping Park Albatros San Vincenzo. With self-catering bungalow accommodation, an on-site restaurant, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a childrens club.
Explore some more...