CIAO A TUTTI!
Off the northwest coast of Italy lies a rustic slice of Mediterranean paradise divided amongst the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago: Capraia, Pianosa, Elba, Giglio, Giannutri, Montecristo and Gorgona.
Only some hours from our beautiful home port Marina di Scarlino by sailboat, Elba is an easy weekend trip destination. Its scores for plenty of beaches and coves, crystal clear water, charming seaside towns, and rugged mountainous interior will also fill an itinerary for a week or longer. Don’t miss to anchor in the bay of Portoferraio and explore the city. My highlight is the walk around the castle where you have stunning views.
In case you want to extend your sailing trip you have several splendid destinations. To the west of Elba you should discover the south of Corsica, the strait of Bonifacio and the northern part of Sardegna. You can spend easily two weeks here and visit so many bays and islands including the islands La Maddalena.
To the south of Elba you could sail to Giglio, Giannutri and Porto Ercole. Our favorite anchorages are the sheltered bay in Giannutri, Spiaggia delle Cannelle south of the port on Giglio (the port is so nice to visit but has very limited capacity) and in front of the Feniglia pine forest close to Porto Ercole. You smell the pine forest ashore from you anchorage.
South of Follonica, Castiglione della Pescaia is one of the most popular Tuscan beach destinations. It’s known for its clean water and protected natural areas and offers points of interest as an alternative to the beach including a pretty old town built around a 12th-century fortress. There are also Etruscan and Roman ruins nearby, as well as nature reserves.
A former island off the coast of Tuscany, now connected to the mainland via three narrow sandbars, Monte Argentario is quite a special rugged spot for those looking to mingle sea and mountain fun, all in one place. Nearby are the islands of Giannutri and Giglio.
There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with the area. There is so much to see and do here, nature-lovers will be delighted in the plethora of fauna in preserved lagoons, others may like to enjoy the scenic area by hiking, mountain biking or play golf. There are two main towns on the peninsula itself, Porto Ercole, a sleepy, yet elegant fishing village that comes alive in summer months to the buzz of the busier Porto Santo Stefano.
Slow sailing allows us to experience different destinations in a way that is both relaxing and enriching. It’s all about embracing the local,culture and different ways of life.
How does one sail slower?
• Visiting less places, focusing on one area or region at a time
• Getting to know local producers dedicated to sustainability and supporting them
• Discovering traditional food in the area
• Taking time to really enjoy the experience
• Connecting with local people and seek out their traditions
With such a rich heritage, culture and cuisine, it is no wonder that Tuscany is a magnet for foodies, wine connoisseurs and nature lovers.
Check out my top 10:
Visit the WWF nature reserve of the “Laguna di Orbetello” a stretch of marshland that is home to a variety of sea and bird fauna, including the pink flamingo and white heron. Entrance at SS Aurelia km 147, Località Ceriolo, Albinia.
Have a spritz by the sea at Porto Ercole, where you can spot kids queuing up for gelato and you can savor the last of the morning light. There are several bars to choose from by the small bay.
Not fare in-land you should visit Antica Fattoria La Parrina, a beautiful farm selling excellent cheese and local wine, and there are even some animals to look at. Address: Tenuta La Parrina, via Aurelia km 146, Località Parrina, Albinia.
Eat the “spaghetti alla bottarga” (dried mullet or tuna eggs grated over pasta) and fresh fish at the restaurant ‘I Pescatori di Orbetello’ open only on weekends and run by a local fish cooperative. Address: Via G. Leopardi, 9 – Orbetello.
Rent a mountain bike to ride or go for a run through the beautiful Feniglia Pine forest which runs along the coastline of the same name.
Take a day-trip to the Tarot Garden known locally as the Giardino dei Tarocchi, a fascinating and whimsical sculpture park created by the international artist Niki de Saint Phalle, we also recommend a stop at the charming nearby town of Capalbio.
Maremma offers a warmer climate thanks to its closeness to the coast. Being a relatively recent developed part of Tuscany, its winyard’s are less famous than the likes of nearby Montalcino. But they’re catching up quickly: in Maremma there’s one DOCG, seven DOCs, two IGTs and three wine roads. Two summertime whites to try: Bianco di Pitigliano and Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario.
Wine tourism might just be getting started here, but down the coast there are winyard’s with regular tours and a few spectacular archistar buildings have cropped up, amongst them the dazzling Petra at Suvereto and Renzo Piano’s Rocca di Frassinello, near Gavorrano.
A visit to Capalbio would not be complete without a refreshing Spritz or niche local wines at the town’s popular hangout, Il Frantoio.
You’ll find many roasted meat dishes in the Tuscan cuisine, particularly wild game such as deer, pheasant or wild boar used as sauces for pasta or as the main course, il secondo, itself. A mixed platter of meat or roasted, wine-braised rabbit or duck make for a great secondo, however the Bistecca Fiorentina is an absolute must-try.
Soak in sulphur! Visits to the thermal baths are rituals that date back to Roman times. Saturnia, Sorano, Venturina and Petriolo are the main natural warm pools. Saturnia is the most developed, with a luxurious hotel and numerous water features, but also a famous free bathing area which can be crowed at times.
If you want to travel the world, don’t buy a couch, buy a sailboat. We can’t wait to sail this Ambra Baby around Tuscany and beyond.