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.