One of many special treats in Maremma: the opportunity to take your own wild boar pictures. Known only to people who live locally ("Maremmani"), Montioni in Maremma has a wonderful surprise in store if you stop by.
Montioni is a tiny hamlet in Maremma Livornese, not far from the gorgeous beaches of the Golfo di Follonica (Gulf of Follonica), the Costa degli Etruschi (Etruscan coast), or the spectacular medieval cities and towns of Massa Marittima, Campiglia Marittima and Suvereto.
If you make the trip to find it, be aware that you can very easily drive through the hamlet before you realise on continue on unknowingly.
When I first saw the "cinghiale", wild boar, in Montioni - and there were lots of them! - because of their very close proximity to Montioni's Bar & Restaurant "La Foresta", I thought that they were being bred and kept for the table. But that is not the case. These wild boar are wild, but have become accustomed to receiving scraps of food from the locals who frequent "La Foresta" and wander into town two or three times a day to see what is on offer.
If you visit Montioni first thing in the morning, or during the late afternoon/early evening, you can be sure of seeing them.
Sometimes already gathered in the car park or walking along the roadside!
When I was there last month to take some photographs of the buildings in Montioni and to find the old Alum mines, I found myself with a following of three adult "cinghiale" in a line behind me. The first of which was too close for comfort!
The open land and wooded hills around Montioni are within the "Parco naturale di Montioni", the Natural Park of Montioni, which is one of the "Parchi della Val di Cornia", Parks of the Val di Cornia. This land is also a "Riserva naturale di popolamento animale", a nature reserve for the re-population of wild animals. So no hunting here! Or mushroom picking.
Please be aware that the land adjacent and behind the stacked "sughero" cork where the wild boar tend to congregate and eat is, however, private property. I have never had a problem with the owners when I have stopped to take some photographs, but there is only one normally an odd individual (me!) there at one time and I do encroach too far.
I hope that this doesn't read at all patronising, but please remember that wild boar are classified as wild dangerous animals. Accustomed as these wild boar have become to humans, please take as much care as you would if you had come upon them in the wild.
Don't surprise or corner the boar and, be particularly vigilant when around a sow and her piglets. If a female feels at all threatened, she will vigorously defend her offspring. Wild boar attacks can result in severe trauma, dismemberment and blood loss.
You may well see the cook and owner of the restaurant exiting the fenced patio area behind the restaurant to fetch a chicken or other item from her land walking very close to the wild boar with stick in hand. Accustomed as she has become to them and they to her, even so, she does not hover for long and keeps as much distance as she can.
And, when driving in Maremma, particularly in the early evening, please be aware that wild boar, deer, porcupine etc regularly cross the road. I usually see one or more of the aforementioned on each trip out along the country roads. They will do severe damage to your car.
The first four of these wild boar photos were taken in January, and those with the piglets in April. I will add more to this photo gallery each time I visit Montioni. I drive past often and cannot resist stopping every time!
I hope you find an opportunity to take your own pictures. Buon vacanza! Have a great holiday!
Click on the pictures to view larger images
Explore some more...