Situated on the Tuscan coast in central Italy, the Costa degli Etruschi is easily reached by car, train or plane (Pisa airport is only 15km from Livorno).
The ports of Livorno and Piombino provide connections with the archipelago, Sardinia, Sicily and Corsica.
The Costa degli Etruschi is also a popular cruise destination, with ships from the world's principal shipping lines calling at Livorno and Piombino.
PARKS AND NATURE
Over 20% of the Costa degli Etruschi comprises Parks, protected areas, nature oases, and fauna reserves.
Nature is not just a setting, but the very essence of this land with its dense stands of pine trees, woods and countryside rich with colours and scents.
Of particular note are the Bolgheri WWF Oasis, a wet zone of international importance, the Magona Park and its biogenetic oasis, the Livorno Hills Park, which is of considerable historical-naturalistic interest, the Rimigliano Park flora and fauna oasis, the Orti-Bottagone oasis and the Sterpaia and Montioni parks
The oases of Bolgheri, Bottagone and Magona, the Val di Cornia and Livorno Hills Parks, protected areas, botanical oases, reserves populated by rare and valued species, dense stands of pine trees and deep woods, countryside rich with colours and scents - safeguarded and protected, nature on the Etruscan Coast is not just a setting, but the essence itself of this land.
The smell of pines, lime-trees and tamarinds scent the air and blend with the briny smell of the sea. Mediterranean scrub and characteristic tomboli stretch down to the beach, almost reaching the crystalline sea.
A network of paths winds through woods of olive trees, holm oaks, cork trees and chestnuts to ancient villages and monuments.
The Wine Route is a journey for the senses and the spirit through fertile countryside stretching from the sea to the hillsides, where sunlight filters through the trees and sparkles on the vines.
The ancient thermal baths at Venturina, dating from Etruscan and Roman times, are a source of energy and coolness.
There is a corner of Tuscany that is an exception to that kind of tourism known as “short break tourism”.
The Costa degli Etruschi is an island far from a world, which is in a hurry, where the concepts of space and time are altered.
If you like taking your time travelling, treading carefully, looking around and taking pleasure from the silence and the scents of nature, here you are welcome. This land has inherited a strong ancient heart from the Etruscans that is said to have determined the wild spirit of Maremma.
Aeolus’ winds blow against the rough Mediterranean Macchia vegetation which seems to be grasping onto the coastal sandy beaches and rocks. Like birds of prey the stoned villages hover over the green and blue outline of the Tuscan archipelago.
You do not need to go far to be deep in nature. Walking or cycling along the tracks of ancient charcoalmen, when a family of roe-deer happens to cross your way, is a really exciting adventure. All this is possible because here, the terri-tory is unaltered. The coast has not been spoiled by cement constructions. On the hills, the woods and the Macchia vegetation are hundreds of years old.
This guide will take you to the most suitable areas for outdoor tourism along itineraries where the roar of motors has never been heard. Horse-riding, walking or cycling, you will discover the soul of this land, discrete and authentic like its people, scented like its wine, extra-virgin like its oil - in short, pure.
SEA AND BEACHES
For over 90 uninterrupted kilometres, clear water shading from emerald green to deepest blue washes the coast, the water quality and services provided by the coastal resorts have been awarded the European Union's Blue Flag.
A line of splendid resorts stretches from Livorno to Piombino - Castiglioncello, Quercianella, Rosignano, Vada, Cecina, Bibbona, Marina di Castagneto and San Vincenzo.
Beaches of pale sand, like those at San Vincenzo and Baratti, alternate with the darker sands of Marina di Castagneto, Bibbona and Cecina, and wind-sculpted rocky shores where the water is deep and teeming with fish. Well-equipped marinas provide plenty of opportunities for yachting.
Etruscan settlements by the sea, like the Baratti-Populonia Archaeological Park, museums full of Etruscan, Roman and Villanovan artefacts, such as those at Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina and Piombino, exhibitions and shows of international significance on the history of these places all bear witness to the historical importance of the Costa degli Etruschi.
The San Silvestro Archaeo-mineral Park at Venturina is a real open-air museum where organized routes allow visitors to follow the various stages of metalworking in Etruscan and medieval times.
ART AND HISTORY
This is an area rich in art and history, where musicians such as Mascagni and painters like Modigliani were born, and where Livorno-born Giovanni Fattori, helped found the Macchiaioli school. Permanent collections and internationally significant exhibitions keep this important heritage alive. Long-standing cultural institutions such as the CEL, Armunia and the Mascagni Musical Institute play an important role in promoting culture.
History lives on in the medieval towns and villages of Bolgheri, Populonia, Castagneto Carducci, Bibbona, Suvereto and Campiglia Marittima, small gems set among green hills and woods, a stone's throw from the sea.
Livorno was planned in the 1500's by the Medici as an "ideal city" and still preserves reminders of its past, such as the historical "Venice" quarter, the Fortresses, and the navigable canals which surround the town centre. Churches of various religious faiths can be visited in this town, which has strong cosmopolitan traditions.
Situated on hills overlooking the sea or in the heart of the countryside, the medieval villages and towns of Costa degli Etruschi have centuries-old historical and cultural traditions.
Historical reminders of their civilisation are preserved intact in Castagneto Carducci, Bolgheri, Suvereto, Campiglia Marittimo, Bibbona, Sassetta, Rosignano Marittimo, Populonia and Piombino.
Narrow flagstone streets lead the visitor to splendid buildings, ancient churches, parish churches, little theatres and fascinating museums.
Amedeo Modigliani and Giovanni Fattori were born in Livorno, and the Macchiaioli School found inspiration in the colours, atmosphere and culture that characterise this area.
Works of nineteenth and early twentieth century Tuscan painters are displayed in the Giovanni Fattori Civic Museum, and frequent temporary exhibitions promote international links with Livorno and Tuscan painting traditions.
Important exhibitions such as the recent very successful show dedicated to Diego Martelli, are also held at Castello Pasquini in Castiglioncello, cradle of the Macchiaioli.
FLAVOURS AND WINES
The gastronomic specialities of the Costa degli Etruschi are known all over the world for their richness and variety.
Fresh-caught fish is the main ingredient of hundreds of delicious recipes, from the famous cacciucco (fish stew), to black rice with squid ink, dentex, gilthead, calamari, shellfish and blue fish (like mackerel) now enjoying a revival, all cooked with flair and skill.
Inland, dishes feature meat, such as beef from prized "Chianina" cattle, and game, particularly wild boar, All dishes are accompanied by vegetables. Local specialities include cheeses, honey, bread, cakes, chickpea "cake" and Livorno punch.
The DOC wines of Bolgheri, Val di Cornia and Bibbona are produced along the Wine Route, as are world-renowned wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Olive oil is also a product of excellence.
Discovering the local flavours
A tour of the cuisine is a good opportunity to discover unusual dishes, wine of the highest quality and typical products of the Coast of the Etruscans.
The local cuisine has some unique characteristics due to the nature of a land that stretches from the sea up to the hills and gives life to different culinary traditions.
The influence of the sea gives rise to the famous Cacciucco (a savoury soup consisting of different kinds of fish), triglie alla livornese, rice with squid, shellfish and mussels, cuttlefish with chard, boiled octopus and hundreds of other fish dishes variations sharing the same strong taste and a pleasant aroma.
Fresh pasta, game, different kinds of cold meat, salami, mushrooms and vegetables are the basic ingredients of the Tuscan country cooking.
Honey, bread cooked in wood ovens and a wide variety of cheese give an authentic taste. The wine and the oil produced along the Wine Road have a world-wide reputation. The legendary Sassicaia wine, made from Cabernet and Sauvignon grapes, is the very top of a list of high-quality products that have made this area the new "Eldorado of the Italian wine".
SPA AND WELLBEING
Costa degli Etruschi thermal spas provide a double opportunity: health treatments and holidays based on wellbeing and relaxation.
At Venturina in Val di Cornia, a stone's throw from the sea and medieval villages, the Valle del Sole (sulphur-calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate bearing waters) and Calidario thermal spas offer treatments for health and psycho/physical wellbeing.
The Valle del Sole thermal spa, already known in Etruscan/Roman times, is a fully equipped fitness centre with 36°C natural spring waters.
SPORT AND RECREATION
The Costa degli Etruschi offers many opportunities for sport. Over 90km of coast and beaches, that have been awarded the European Union's Blue Flag for water quality and services, offer the chance to practice all kinds of water sport, from underwater fishing to sailing and windsurfing.
Well-organized harbours and marinas provide berthing facilities for boats.
Both amateur and professional cycling is practised.
Marked routes for the former wind through the hills or the pinewoods next to the sea, while professional cycling teams train in specially equipped structures with efficient services.
Trails for hiking or horse riding can be found in Livorno and all along the Costa degli Etruschi.
TEXTS AND PHOTOS COURTESY OF "COSTA DEGLI ETRUSCHI" TOURIST AGENCY