Drama defines all things Tuscan. Nowhere is this truer than in its westernmost reaches … seaside Tuscany. Just add water (in the form of the azure Tyrrhenian Sea) and this cypress-dotted region of Italy is transformed from glorious to sublime. Hill towns don’t merely perch atop earthen mounds; they seem sprouted from the soft limestone tufa that hoists them above pristine fields. And ancient subterranean caves, believed to have been carved centuries ago by Etruscans, are now used as labyrinthine wine and olive oil cellars.
That’s only one hint that you’re not in central Tuscany anymore. If you need more, put your nose to the air and breathe in the aromatic macchia scrub of lavender and rosemary that perfume the countryside. Listen to the whisper of palm trees in soft sea breezes. Admire precise rows of prickly pear cactus, laid long ago to delineate farmers’ lands. And a visit here isn’t fully realized without feeling white sand between your toes and wading into the sea, the green island of Giglio shimmering in the distance.
Agritourism is taking hold in this land whose marshes once made it unfit for the building of civilizations. All the better that yesterday’s murky tidal flats attracted hundreds of species of birds that are here to stay, herons and storks among them. In keeping close to nature, rustic farmhouses in magnificent settings have been converted into elegant inns, where the makings for dinner are plucked straight from the garden – and cheeses appear on your plate courtesy of resident goats.
Read more about VBT’s Tuscany by the Sea Bicycling Vacation.