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Coast to countryside: southern Tuscany


From Tuscany’s savagely beautiful coastline to the Renaissance splendour of the Val d’Orcia, Carla Passino is struck by the range of opportunities for holiday-home buyers


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LARGE headland, thick with trees, scented with Mediterranean scrub and topped by a crenellated


tower, pushes out like a finger into the sea, the cliffs towering high above a secret cove of soft white sand and crystalline waters. It’s the Parco dell’ Uccellina, a nature reserve in Mar- emma, where Tuscany is at its wildest and most scenic. It’s hard to imagine that this idyll


once was a pestilential marsh, rife with malaria, locusts and bandits in equal measure. So inhospitable was this wild stretch of countryside that, in his Divine Comedy, Dante compares it to the Wood of the Suicides—favourably but barely so:


‘They don’t have such tangled lairs, nor so thick, the savage beasts that hate the tilled land between Cecina and Corneto.’ The fortunes of the area, which


stretches south of Pisa and Livorno, around Grosseto, all the way down to Tarquinia, north of Rome, changed dramatically in the 19th century when Grand-Duke Ferdinand III and then his son, Leopold II, set out to reclaim the land from the marsh and the deadly mosquitoes that came with it. Free of swamps, Maremma is now a place of rare, savage beauty, where woods dense with holm oaks, strawberry trees and phillyrea give way to silvery olive copses and rows of tidy vineyards, where jagged rocks


38 Country Life International, Spring 2014


The coastline of Maremma is where Tuscany is at its wildest and most scenic— and has yet to be really discovered by British property buyers


carpeted with rosemary, heather and wild orchids meet soft beaches fringed by hardy, sand-loving shrubs and, beyond the dunes, thickets of aromatic juniper. Perhaps it’s because of its troubled


history, or perhaps because it’s farther away from international air- ports, Maremma remains relatively unknown among British visitors and second-home buyers. However, it has long been popular with the Italians, who vie with buyers from Russia and the former CIS for the best contem- porary villas along the coast. Places such as Punta Ala, Porto


Ercole, Porto Santo Stefano and, above all, the pretty coves beneath elegant, cultured Capalbio—nicknamed Little


www.countrylife.co.uk/international


Massimo Ripani/SIME/4Corners


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