These Tuscan beaches are some of the cleanest in the world
Tuscany has topped the charts yet again for having more official Blue Flag beaches and marinas than anywhere else in Italy, apart from Liguria. The prestigious global Blue Flag eco-label is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) for locations with pure, clean and safe water and beaches that offer access for all. Here are seven of our favourites from the 19 destinations that won the coveted award in Tuscany in 2018.
Forte dei Marmi
This glamorous resort, set against the backdrop of the Apuan Alps, owes its name to the Carrera marble brought here from the quarries in the mountains (along a road built by Michelangelo in the 16th century). By the 1800s, the “fort of the marbles” was a seaside playground for Italian high society and its popularity continued to grow, luring creative giants including the writer Thomas Mann and sculptor Henry Moore in the 20th century, as well as wealthy industrialists, such as the Agnelli family, owners of Fiat. To this day, it remains a fashionable place to see and be seen.
Tirrenia and Calambrone
The dictator Benito Mussolini transformed this former marshland into seaside resorts, as well as a centre for making propaganda movies, and the Fascist architecture he commissioned – massive complexes that hosted ideological summer camps for children – can still be seen today. Yet, despite its grim origins, these coastal towns are popular, particularly with Italians, for their clear waters, which offer welcome relief from the heat of the day in the nearby cities of Pisa and Livorno. Calambrone is especially favoured by windsurfers.
This pretty seaside town, south of Pisa, has been a cultural hotspot since the 19th century. Once the retreat of painters in the Macchiaioli movement, sometimes called the Italian Impressionists, it was made world-famous by Dino Risi’s 1960s cult movie Il Sorpasso and so became the summer stomping ground of stars such as Marcello Mastroianni. Although the coastline here is a string of coves and rocky cliffs, backed by fragrant pine woods, there are two sandy beaches to choose from – Quercetano Bay and the Cove of Castiglioncello. If you can’t find a spot on the sand, some of the cliffs nearby are scaffolded with sunbathing platforms looking out over the sea.
Marina di Castagneto Carducci
The rural shores of Marina di Castagneto may be a place to romp and relax for today’s visitor, yet in the 18th century this was part of a coastal defence, along with its hinterland of pine woods and the fort at Castagneto Carducci, which still watches over the area. As well as being a great place to splash about in the sea, the woods here are home to a large amusement park, Il Cavallino Matto, featuring roller-coasters and water rides.
Marina di Punta Ala
The smart set has long known about this pine-cloaked headland, hence the chic houses that peep out of its glades and the racing yachts in its marina. But you don’t need a Swiss bank account to enjoy the beach here. It’s a raw beauty, with rocky outcrops and golden sands that dissolve into sparkling waters. The only problem will be choosing between a shady spot under a sun umbrella or beneath the boughs of the pine trees.
Principina A Mare
It’s no wonder Principina A Mare is a stalwart of the Blue Flag list. To the north, this fine stretch of sands reaches the port of Marina di Grosseto. To the south, it gets wilder as it becomes part of the Maremma Natural Park and meets the marshy land around the birdlife-filled mouth of the Ombrone river. Ideal for families, especially with young children, the sea here is shallow and sandy-bottomed. The whole beach has plenty of public areas. For wind-free bathing and calmer waters, visit in the morning.
Port Ercole Le Viste
Loosely tethered to the mainland by the tomboli, two sandy causeways, the mountain of Argentario is virtually an island. The little beach at Porto Ercole Le Viste is a nice spot to lay one’s sunhat – a quieter, more rural alternative to Santo Stefano on the other side of the peninsula. The beach is pebbly, with a partly grassed terrace fashioned out of a flat rock. There’s a platform for diving and a natural wading pool that will keep little ones happy. The glassy waters and a seabed characterised by bits of reef are a snorkellers’ delight.
To Tuscany has a fantastic range of villas across the region.