Into the wilderness
Text: Miriam Terruzzi
Images: Kathrin Schafbauer
The Maremma is a land of unexplored fascination. Its blood ties with rural culture take man back in time, to the call of its roots.
he salty wind blows through the tall grass while the sun stretches the shadows of the cypresses over the hills. The sunset air casts a melancholic peace over the silence interrupted only by the irregular rhythm of breath in exertion.
The Maremma is the wild lung of Tuscany, a land of sharp contrasts, shadows and lights in the raw and sparkling scenery of a virgin nature. Here the soul of the sea and the hinterland mix in a bittersweet taste that makes the smells of the Mediterranean bush appear in the deepest rock gorges, where once brigands or storytellers hid.
Pedaling uninterruptedly, without meeting a living soul, on roads that for centuries were traveled only by cowboys with their horses, and then seeing the sparkling sea open up before you: this is the same sensation that a solitary traveler would feel, bewitched by the stormy character of a land never seen before.
Between 1874 and 1886, Giosuè Carducci composed an ode inspired by the journey he made on his way back to Bologna, crossing the heart of the Tuscan Maremma and reliving the emotions of his childhood.
The charm of those verses were conjured up by the almost five kilometer long avenue flanked by thick cypress trees that runs from the Oratory of San Guido to Bolgheri.
This unique road that crosses vineyards and olive groves between gentle undulating hills, was desired by the visionary Count Guido Alberto Della Gherardesca in 1831 and, in the following years, about 2540 cypress trees were planted, some of which came from the coast, as evidence of how the sea and the land here have forgotten their boundaries.
In the heart of the rock
Pitigliano is a village perched on a spur of tuff stone and surrounded by deep and wild valleys: a fascinating maze of alleys, walls and towers that mixes the ancient Etruscan culture to the medieval and Jewish.
In the historical center you can still find the synagogue and the buildings built by the small community that lived in the village at the end of the 16th century, while underground, and all around the walls, there are the vie caves, a dense network of tunnels dug directly into the tuffaceous rock by the Etruscans, probably as sacred passages between the "city of the living" and the "city of the dead".
Between the land and the sea
Pine forests, long sandy coasts and then reeds where pink flamingos fly at the water's edge after their long migrations: Orbetello and its lagoon resembling a small earthly paradise suspended between the elements.
The town stands on a thin strip of land, which is joined to Monte Argentario by a road built on an artificial dam.
Here the charm of the unspoiled nature and the remains of the Etruscan civilization tell the authentic soul of the Tyrrhenian Sea, between legends and ancient works of engineering, such as the mill that solitary has survived, at the mercy of the magical movement of the tides for almost six centuries.
The Bay of Pirates
Overlooking the sapphire-colored sea that washes the coast of Porto Ercole, Forte Stella is one of the three forts built by the Spanish in the 16th century to defend the territory from pirate attacks.
The structure, which was erected on a six-pointed star-shaped plan, was commissioned by Philip II of Spain and can be reached through a road that opens among sheer rocks, where brooms and myrtles cling. For the Spaniards this was a crucial point in the system of territorial defense, today there is no one at the slits of the sentinels and from there, to break the darkness of the walls, enter the rays of light typical of the afternoons on the Mediterranean Sea.