When you think of Italy, you think of the ‘Holy Trinity’; Rome, Florence and Venice. But it is not until you explore outside of these inarguably beautiful cities, that you actually allow yourself to have a real Italian experience. Castiglione della Pescai, offers the small town charm, abundant with Italian allurement with plenty to do. Situated in the Province of Grosseto, Tuscany, two and a half hours drive from Rome, Castiglione is a small fishery town, lined with stunning beaches and beneath a medieval fortress.
A day in Italy cannot be started without a coffee, best taken in the form of an expresso shot from one of the local bars that litter the main street. Bar Enotica offers a wide selection of some of the finest Italian brioche, with an opportunity to watch the locals converse in typical fashion (hand gestures included).
Castiglione is a town built within a fortress dating back to the 10th century, originally consisting of one tower, later expanding to three towers connected by the walls that now encompass the Upper town. Although the castle grounds themselves are private property and not open to the public, the streets within the medieval walls are a time capsule of Italian architecture, with cobble stone paths and steep narrow passageways filled with bloom. Once reaching the top, the streets open up to a town square (piazza), culminating in a birds-eye view of Castiglione, and Elba Island appears within reach of the Tuscan coastline.
Having been awarded the prestigious ‘Cinque Vele’ award and the Blue Flag by the environmental organisation Legambiente, it is no wonder that thousands of tourists flock to these eco-friendly beaches that line this Tuscan town. If relaxing is on your agenda, the rental of an umbrella on one of the many beaches that run for a kilometre along the coast is your best bet. If you are not wanting to spend money to lay on the sand, there are a number of ‘free beach’ locations between the beach clubs. But one must get their early to secure a prime location, so be prepared to start your relaxation early. For those more adventurous, the rental of stand up paddle boards are a good option for spending the day on the water. Rental of locally branded RRD boards are available from Bagno il Faro, which offers lessons for beginners at an affordable price. It is also the perfect place to grab lunch or dinner, with local Alessio and his crew creating a friendly and lively atmosphere to watch the sun set. Popular among locals and tourists alike, with prime location on the beach, Bagno il Fara serve fresh seafood caught daily, with fish of the day always a popular choice, and deliciously affordable pizza (5 euro margaritas – bargain!).
If bird watching takes your fancy, why not take a walk to Casa Rosa, where, if lucky, you can spot a flamingo or two in the wetlands that surround Castiglione. Boat tours of the Diaccia Provincial Nature Reserve are also available, as well as hiking or mountain bike tours of the Diaccia Botrona Nature Reserve, for those looking for a little more adventure.
If it is wine tasting you are after; Fattoria Le Mortelle offers both lunch time and night time tours of it’s relatively new vineyard situated just outside Castiglione della Pescaia. Following a guided tour of the modern cellar, a wine tasting of a number of the different red and white wines offered while munching on some italian snacks, while overlooking the vineyard. The pumpkins and gourds that line the property give it the feel of your grandmothers backyard; homely but modern, a beautiful place to spend the afternoon.
Local entertainment is plentiful, especially at dusk when the fish trawlers pull in from a day of catching fish from the surrounding Mediterranean waters. If you go down to the port at the right time, you can watch the locals haggle over the best catches of the day as the fisherman disentangle them from the nets and buckets. Nothing is more entertaining than elderly man fighting over some the strangest looking fish you have ever seen. You can also find local kids and men alike finding their luck by fishing off the port with nets on the end of rods. The entertainment value is endless!
No matter what you are into, Castiglione della Pescaia has plenty to offer. The Italian culture is untouched in towns like these, and thrive on impressing tourists with its charisma and generosity. A place for all walks of life.
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