Just mention Tuscany and visions of rolling green hills, Chianti wine, and the city of Florence come to mind. Tuscany is blessed with a stunning and often overlooked coastline. Cradled by a crystal clear sea, the Etruscan Coast takes its name from its ancient origins as an Etruscan site. We (Gina, Francesco and Chloe) vacationed on the coast in 2022 and have booked for 2023 as well. The area offers the perfect mix of relax, history and seafood. I’m drawn to the sandy beaches where our pup is allowed to run and swim. And then there are rocky outcrops and dramatic cliffs that start at the city of Livorno and end at the port city of Piombino, stretching over 50 miles.
Here are three of our regular holiday stops.
Stop 1 – Livorno
Francesco takes the wheel and Chloe stretches out across the back seat as we drive south from the city of Livorno. I am the spoiled passenger. I sit back, sunglasses on, and take in the sandstone cliffs, speckled with evergreen shrubs and myrtle. I close my eyes and breathe in the sea air. Sun worshippers lay on rocky outcrops, soaking up the sun. We pass by an ancient watch tower “Torre di Calafuria” and before stopping for a bite at Ristorante Novelli. We enjoy the sea side view and a classic dish like cacciucco alla livornese (fish stew), pasta with clams, or ask about the daily catch.
Stop 2 – Castiglioncello
After lunch we continue south to the beach town of Castiglioncello for a stroll and window shopping.
We stop at Caffè Ginori. The classic coffee bar, pastry shop and restaurant opened its doors in 1946. We ease up to the speckled dark green marble counter for a caffe and jam-filled biscotti.
After a caffeine pick-up, we walk to Serendipity, a tiny shop that features clothing made in Italy. Close by is SUD, a fun store with cotton and leather bags, beachwear, and skirts with bold colors and wild patterns.
If shopping isn’t what you enjoy, spend the afternoon at the Bagno Le Forbici beach club where you can relax in the saltwater infinity pool and watch the sunset at the terrace bar. Alternatively, take refuge in the shade of the Pineta Marradi pine forest, or visit one of the free beach between Bagno Roma and Bagno Nettuno.
Stop 3 – Baratti & Populonia
Baratti and Populonia merit a day. We stroll along the bay of Baratti where locals walk in the shallow water to boost their blood circulation while chatting away. Here we enjoy the public beach or visit Bagno Baratti which offers showers, chairs and umbrellas, and sells coffee, sandwiches, dessert and drinks from a simple little kiosk.
The afternoon is the perfect time to visit the borgo of Populonia, an Etruscan city built overlooking the infinitely blue sea. Take in the Etruscan Museum and climb the Tower for a view of the green landscape and waters below. Replenish a Tuscan ribollita soup or a salad at La Taverna di Populonia.
Visit the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia. At the start of the 20th century, tombs, temples, houses and roads of the Etruscan and Roman city were uncovered here. The Park is an outdoor museum that extends over 80 hectares between Piombino and the Gulf of Barratti and shows the greatness of the industrial Etruscan settlement when mining was the main income source of the Val di Cornia. The park includes a large portion of the ancient town. There are activities available for children and adults including ceramics, weaving and Etruscan writing workshops. For those who love trekking like me, the park has a number of trails. Popular hikes include a 1-hour simple trek to the Necropolis of San Cerbone and a 2-hour medium-intensity hike to the Necropolis of Le Grotte.
While in the area of Baratti, take a walk to Buca delle Fate. Located in a picturesque and panoramic position at the bottom of the promontory of Populonia, the beach is formed of rocks. It is accessible by boat.
We parked at the “reciso” parking lot, which is on the road before reaching the village of Populonia and hiked in. The well marked route is about 2 miles. It is suitable for children and dogs. Chloe loved it! We can’t wait for our 2023 Tuscan escape. Stay tuned.