A secret Tuscany beach nestled between pillow lavas in a nature reserve you wouldn't know was there! But you will have to walk through head height French gorse and wild fragrant virgin's bower clematis to reach it.
The port city of Piombino is perhaps best known by travellers for its ferry connections to the stunning islands of Isola d'Elba, Corsica and Sardinia.
Just a stone's throw away from Piombino's historic centre and its iconic Piazza Bivo, protecting the small Marina di Salivoli, is the beginning of the "Promontorio di Piombino" - Piombino's rocky promontory. Home to the "Parco di Punta Falcone". A small, tucked-away, nature park. Full of plants that would keep any budding botanist occupied for hours. And surprises of an altogether different kind.
Including a secret beach.
You will have to leave your car and do a cliff walk through scented and edible macchia plants - kindly labelled by the park authority do that you can get to learn their Latin names along the way - to reach it. But that same said walk will, on a clear day, treat you to a seascape that sweeps all the way from the once island of Monte Argentario, the Isola di Giglio, and the island of Montecristo to the south.
The half eaten Isola Cerboli and its neighbour Isola Palmaiola.
To the houses - yes, the individual houses in the ports and up the hill sides - on the Isola d'Elba. And then all the way to Corsica.
But first you'll see this. The path and the rocks of the Scoglio Falcone.
And then this carpet of pink. The South African Elands Sourfig in full bloom.
Then the path takes a turn and down you go. Head height now with giant heather, Myrtle, and Phoenician juniper to name just a few.
Until you need to leave the path to make your way down over the basalt stack to the sea.
The tiny cove is a protected spot from any breezes, and has sand, rock pools, and - with care - a sea entry for the snorkelling and sub aqua fishermen amongst you. Which means that, tiny it may be, but for a young family there is plenty to do and see - apart from chilling out big time - to make a day spent here one of those unforgettable summer memories of childhood.
See if you can spot sea bream, damselfish, black scorpion fish and red starfish. If they let you!
For just one family. Two at a pinch.
Or off season, a romantic seclude for a couple.
Those pillow lavas - liquid basalt rock - were extruded underwater 150 million years ago at temperatures of around 1000 degrees C.
They tell us that this spot along Tuscany's coast was formed along the middle of a seismic oceanic ridge.
But that's not all. Far from it. Because Punta Falcone has another secret. Waiting for ears that want to listen to its tale of a long lost ocean.
There are two routes down: it's a circular path from the car park. One shorter than the other.
Our preferred way is to take the very scenic, not too much longer, route along the cliff path with that stunning seascape. Past the astronomic observatory (open to the public for star gazing through its magnificent telescope) and the cannon.
Leaving the shorter up hill route for the trip back when everyone might be wonderfully tired from a day of rock pools and sea air. But. There is still everything to haul back to the car. The first stretch back is all uphill, but flattens out when you join the main path.
The glimpse of beach in the very top right hand corner of this photo is that of "spiaggia Calamoresca" (Calamoresca beach).
Still want the scenery and park atmosphere, but don't want to haul a thing? And a beach bar and restaurant to boot would go down a treat? Then, at the beginning of the trail from the car park, is Calamoresca beach. (Also sometimes spelt as Cala Moresca).
With its own "bagno" beach facility, bar, and restaurant it transforms into a Tuscany coast wedding location on occasion.
Take a look at the other surprises to be found during your walk to the beach. Find out when you can take a look through that telescope, and more.
If that little trek is a pinch of salt for you and a longer walk beckons before or after your visit, then there is another trail waiting for you too at the popular meeting place and live music location; the cliff top bar. Right next to the car park.
Nothing less than a natural botanical garden along it's first stretch, it will take you north along the coast from Calamoresca all the way to the lovely Populonia and the amazing remains of the only Etruscan city by the sea. With Necropoli and tombs hidden in the woods behind.
Past more of Piombino's tiny coves and beaches and the "Scoglie della Morte" - the rocks of the dead.
Once a royal road, you can find out more about it, the coves and beaches accessible along it's route, and their legends, here.
Explore some more...