A secret Maremma coast picnic location with blood-spewing beetles and boar in a jaw-droppingly beautiful Tuscan archipelago setting.
Now I know that secret Maremma coast picnic locations might not be in the forefront of your mind when you are planning a visit to Tuscany. But there is something intrinsically lovely about a picnic, isn't there? And if the location is hidden, well that makes it all the more an adventure, now doesn't it!
And, anyway, I like to take you to places that nobody else does :)
This one is especially for lovers of seascapes, for during the short walk to reach it, the Tuscan archipelago together with some of Maremma's even tinier - and none the less historic - islands will be stunningly laid out before you.
The picnic spot is probably only known to a handful of mountain bikers or walkers who know this part of Maremma's coastline well. Oh, and some blood spewing beetles! and sounders of wild boar that live in the Mediterranean macchia behind the cliffs, unbothered by anybody because the land here is a protected environment for wildlife.
The location is south of the Punta Ala coastline, along a stretch of coastal track that will take you all the way to the promontory and beach of Le Rocchette in Castiglione della Pescaia territory.
The seascape scenery along the whole length of this coastal path is beautiful. Whether on a stormy sea day, or on a day like this one in early March when the sea was a flat as a pancake reflecting the light and shadows of the sun and clouds above.
The walk to reach it is an easy one along a wide track (no cars allowed).
There are sufficient picnic tables for a large group of friends or family to set out a wonderful spread together. The local wild boar even stop by and have a root by the picnic benches themselves for a snack or two. But don't worry, you probably won't see them unless you are planning a late night feast!
And the going is easier on the way back, not only because it is downhill, but because the bags, rucksacks and baskets will weigh less!
Apart from the picnic benches and tables that you see in the photograph above, there are none! But then again, there is a lot of Mediterranean macchia surrounding the picnic location ;)
NOTE Please take rubbish bags with you as there are no bins here or any where along the route. The site is pristine, with not one white tissue or plastic bottle anywhere. Let's keep it that way.
NOTE This route is a great one for mountain bikers and cyclists, as well as walkers.
If you have never seen a wild boar track, you will here! You can trace exactly where they come from and where they go. This one was a freshly made during a jaunt one of them took on the morning took these pictures.
You'll be treated to views of Monte Argentario, the Formichi di Grosseto, the islands of Isola di Giannutri, Isola del Giglio, Isola di Montecristo, Isola Pianosa and the Isola d'Elba.
As well as the Isolotto dello Sparviero with its medieval tower the Torre degli Appiani.
Rosemary grows wild along the footpath and was in bloom, as were tiny pink cyclamens.
The feet of these beetles intrigued me!
They are the bloody-nosed, blood spewer, or blood spewing beetles (Timarcha tenebricosa). I have it on good authority that, when they feel threatened, they exude a foul-tasting bright red-orange fluid from their mouths. Not that I have ever tasted it! These three were busy mating rather than spewing blood!
The sixteenth century Castello di Punta Ala - Punta Ala castle - also known as the Torre di Troia Nuova (new Troia tower). With the islands of Cerboli and Palmaiola in the background. There is a rocky beach at the base of the cliff upon which it sits that is a quiet spot even in the height of summer: castle cove.
The sixteenth century tower of Torre Hidalgo - also known as the Torre Barbiere (it overlooks the cove of Cala Barbiere) at Punta Ala.
The Gulfo di Follonica with the sands of Capanna Civinini beach to the right of the photograph.
And as you approach the Rocchette promontory you'll start to glimpse one of Maremma's more unusual and certainly memorable places in which to stay: the thirteenth century look-out tower that was once a link in the chain of coastal watch towers and castles built by the Granducato di Toscana (Grand Duchy of Tuscany) to defend the Tuscan coast against Barbary pirates.
The Torre di Cala Galera - the Galera cove tower.
The panoramic views from the bedrooms in the tower are incredible. And there is even a sunken jacuzzi in the old well :) Find out more.
I've prepared a Google satellite map - the aerial view is great, because you can really clearly see the whole route, secret picnic spot (someone must have just cut the grass when the satellite went overhead) and the thick Mediterranean macchia along Maremma's gorgeous coastline.
1. You'll need to leave you car at the gateway (it is never locked) here - the beginning of Via Rio Palma.
2. Or, if you don't mind driving along a short section of rutted road, you can leave it further along here in the bend, near a barrier and access entrance to a private dwelling. Vehicles aren't allowed any further.
It's all uphill until for a while and then it flattens out before the picnic location in the woodland clearing at marker number 3.
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