Explore the Tufa Towns of Maremma & Southern Tuscany

In this Maremma itinerary, you’ll discover the best of Southern Tuscany. You’ll visit charming towns like Pitigliano, Capalbio, and Mount Argentario from the interior to the coast. These so-called “tufa towns” are the scenic highlights of the region. The Etruscans thrived in the 8th century BCE, excavating the tufa rock to build dwellings and necropolises. Enjoy a leisurely day soaking up the unique atmosphere, exploring these historic towns, and trying local wine and delicacies.

Pitigliano is the biggest of the three “tufa towns,” a singular and fascinating place that seems to grow out of the rock itself. It's the larger town, but it will only take about 10 minutes to walk from one side to another. Atmospheric and featuring extraordinary views, enjoy a stroll and take your time. Visit the ancient Jewish Quarter, then explore the museum inside Palazzo Orsini. Explore the narrow streets, discover picturesque hidden corners, and visit the towns’ two churches. If you decide to stay here for dinner, try the delicious tortelli alla Maremmana pasta or the typical acquacotta soup and local white wine. At sunset, head for the panoramic terrace overlooking the town, and don't forget your camera.

Sorano is a tiny village perched on a tufa hill. The vistas are impressive, and once you walk through the ancient gate, it's like being transported back to the Middle Ages. You can spend a couple of hours exploring the twists and turns in the historic town center and enjoying the views over the green valley. Then it’s time to visit the one-street village of Sovana, a delightfully well-kept stone house village with two beguiling churches. Take time to visit the Romanesque Cathedral, located right at the end of the village, with its portals and decorated capitals in the interior. There’s a lovely bookshop at the entrance where you can dip into the area's art history.

Montemerano and Capalbio redefine the meaning of “picturesque.” Narrow cobbled streets, ancient stone houses, flowery windows, and old doors are pretty much everything you expect from a Tuscan village. The walled town has a lovely historic center and amazing views. Well-known politicians visit to enjoy Niki de Saint Phalle’s fantastically sculpted Tarot Garden and tuck into T-bone steaks and spit-roasted meats in La Porta. 

Mount Argentario is very popular with Italian tourists who descend into this part of Italy in summer with their families. It’s a green haven in the midst of the Tyrrhenian Sea, tied to the mainland by three narrow stretches of land. You can spend the day driving around in search of the perfect view or just relaxing at one of the beaches.

The two ports, Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano, are easy to reach, and both are worth a side trip. Porto Ercole is smaller with a quaint historic center that you can reach via a steep stone staircase. Head right to the top for a great view over the sea. Porto Santo Stefano is bigger and busier, as it has a long sea promenade where you'll find great restaurants and gelateria. Despite being a tourist magnet, it still feels very authentic. Ogle the luxury yachts while you tuck into a plate of fritto misto or spaghetti ai frutti di mare

Orbetello is your last stop, a town set right in the middle of the lagoon of the same name, a delightful place for a stroll and an Aperitivo. Seen from above, Orbetello looks like a marooned Venetian island. This former Spanish garrison-come-fishing village is set on an isthmus and best viewed from afar, from the monastery of Padri Passionisti atop Monte Argentario. Seafood-lovers should follow suit, heading to I Pescatori, a fisher’s cooperative, for lunch of grilled sea bass, grey mullet roe, and Ansonica white wine. Finally, drive along the road that highlights the Orbetello lagoon at sunset. It’s quite a spectacular sight watching the sun dip into the sea.

Read more about unique and interesting excursions in Tuscany.