The Arcipelago Toscano in Maremma Tuscany

The Archipelago islands in Tuscany Italy are mostly surrounded by rocky beds and this, together with the different depth that characterizes them, contributes to the richness and variety of the marine flora and fauna: limpets and barnacles encrust the rocks half-sunk in the sea, while a little lower the red beadlet anemones move slowly and close their tentacles with the incoming tide. Underwater, we find many algae with different and fascinating shapes such as the nori, the acetabularia, similar to a small umbrella, and the common brown algae that looks like a a woddy toadstool. The small crevices are painted by corals with pinkish and brown hues and by yellow, blue, purple and red sponges.

The elegant red gorgonias and the peculiar fan worms that look like brushes, float in the wavy waters while in shady spots, where it escaped the harvest, the precious red coral live.  Octopuses, morays, crayfish and gropers find shelter in these rocks populated by sea urchins and anemones; colorful rainbow wrasses and ornate wrasses slip through the rocks as well as sea breams, snappers, sea basses and white sea breams. The small damselfish seem to spread an intense and surprising purple light.

The sandy bed is covered by posidonia, a seaweed that with its ribbon-shaped leaves forms wide underwater prairies inhabited by gold-lines. Myriads of tiny fish are often chased by slivery and hydrodynamic needlefish that moves quickly in small groups close to the surface. Until a few years ago, sea turtles used to lay their eggs on the beaches of some islands of the Archipelago and monk seals were swimming in their peaceful waters.

The Isle of Elba, one of Tuscany’s most well known islands, is characterized by a beautiful landscape surrounded by a 147 km coast rich in bays, cliffs and beaches. In Elba’s eastern part, dominated by the peak of Cima del Monte, we find the peninsula of Calamita where there are many types of schist whose origin dates back to more than 400 million years, and Jurassic marble, rocks whence we have been extracting haematite, magnetite and pyrite for centuries. Further north from Mount Calamita and in the central part of Elba, low and flat, we find instead ophiolites, limestone, sandstone and clay. The most recent rocks, of volcanic origin, from the western part of the island, where Mount Capanne, just over 1000 m high, is.

The Isle of Elba is mostly covered by Mediterranean shrubs that only rarely evolve into oak woods. In weathered areas, the maze of shrubs becomes low and sparse. That is when lavender, rosemary and helycrisum with their strong scents appear. In cooler areas, it is worth mentioning the presence of vast chestnut woods, with some huge specimen, of alders and yews. The beautiful cliffs are covered by juniper shrubs, blending with silver spots of Jupiter’s beard and Dusty Miller. Also thorny pears and agave, exotic species, have become an integral part of the landscape, as well as the highway iceplant, with its succulent leaves, whose wide purple flowers can be admired in summer along the coast of Maremma Tuscany.

The region is a paradise for diving and snorkeling, but also for walking, mountain biking, cycling and horse riding. Come to stay at the Hotel Prategiano, which enjoys a central position to discover all Tuscany.

Here you can find additional information about equestrian vacations in Tuscany offered by the Prategiano agriturismo in Maremma Toscana .


Hidden treasures of Tuscany Italy

Those visitors of Tuscany who leave the coast and venture into the interior will immediately note the signs of the reclamation of what were formerly marshy areas, then the traces of the age-old exploitation of the agricultural land, woods and minerals. The roads and canals of the reclaimed lands in the plain from geometric patterns, while characteristic features are the rows of eucalyptus planted as wind-breaks and the windmills serving to pump away the water. Straight, deserted roads run between cornfields dotted with the poppies and field flowers that have become a rarity with the spread of modern farming methods, one of the specialities of the Maremma is the Moretti artichoke. Further inland, the landscape of the hills is the result of the system of agriculture known as sharecropping: vineyards and olive groves are interspersed with extensive wood and the thick Mediterranean macchia consisting of holm-oaks, strawberry trees, coark-oaks and a dense undergrowth where the wild boar and porcupine find refuge.

The more distant they are from the seam the more the hills become rugged and wooded. Here chestnut trees and oak from the sparser woods that are ideal for mushroomers in the autumn. To the north, in the southern offshoots of the Colline Metallifere behind Massa Marittima, the wooded landscape stretches as far as the eye can see, interrupted by the conspicuous erosional phenomena of the clay soils and by the limestone outcrops. Near Boccheggiano, on the banks of the river Merse there is the remarkable spec tale of the old slag-heaps of the nearby pyrites mine of Campiano modeled by wind and water into an ochre and purple moonscape.

The scenery of the southern Maremma Tuscany is very different: this is the realm of tuff, where the plateau are deeply eroded. Medieval villages and ancient towns perched on top of rocky spurs dominate a landscape that is partially wild, with macchia and undergrowth, and partially cultivated, with, on the terraces, vines being grown to produce a renowned white wine. This part of Tuscany has preserved important Roman and Etruscan remains, especially at Saturnia, and has a trio of fascinating towns in the eastern part – Sovana, Pitigliano and Sorano – that emerge from the tuff in which they seem to have been sculpted.

The Maremma is one of the best places for horse riding in Tuscany. Our hotel Prategiano has been organizing horse holidays in Italy since more than 40 years. Come to join our horseback rides and experience the most beautiful places of Maremma Toscana.

Italy: Horseback riding in Tuscany

The Natural Reserve is located in Maremma Tuscany Italy a little south of Orbetello in the province of Grosseto . You can freely enter the reserve only on foot, on horse and by mountain or trekking bike. Come to our hotel in Tuscany, Rifugio Prategiano, and the connected Horse Riding Center and you will have the fantastic  opportunity to participate in a special ride  in one of the nicest parks of Tuscany.  Horseback riding in this fantastic region of Italy will be a unique experience.

The Nature Reserve protects the tombolo della Feniglia, one of the two sandy strips that link the headland of Argentario to the dry land. The narrow strip of land that marks off the eastern Lagoon of Orbetello is about six km long and reaches a maximum width of one kilometer. Until the end of 1700, the Duna, property of the Municipality of Orbetello, was covered by a thriving Mediterranean maquis that, once sold to private subjects, was cut or destined to grazing and crop growing. This caused the almost total disappearance of the vegetation and the libeccio, free from the barrier represented by the strip of vegetation coastal, began to accumulate sand in the lagoon, filling it up.

The authorities, concerned about the destiny of the lagoon and of the related fishing activity, at the beginning of 1900 confiscated the land and started the forestation. Thanks to those protection interventions, today the Natural Reserve is covered with one of the most beautiful shoreline pine forests in Italy. A few birdwatch posts are installed on the side facing the lagoon. The undergrowth is made of scented shrubs of Mediterranean maquis, among which the lentiscus and phillyrea prevail. There is also abundance of asphodel, a plant rejected by the many herbivores that live in the pine forest. In the tombolo, it is easy to find thickets of holm oak, cork oak, flowering ash, poplar and Dutch elm. Under the pines you may spot fallow deer and foxes and find the trails of the badger and of the beech marten. The reserve is full of amphibians and reptiles that include species such as the common toad, the frog, the tortoise, the pond turtle and the four-lined shake. Discover the unknown beauties of Tuscany Italy with the guides of the Hotel Prategiano.