Pisa airport is the gateway to Tuscany for millions of international visitors. Most make for villas in the hills of Siena or set off to fight their way through the culture-hungry crowds in Florence.
But relatively few drive to the Maremma, a wild, rugged area populated by wild boar on Tuscany’s southern edge, where clean blue seas and umbrella pines meet truly Italian towns and countryside.
The Maremma, just over an hour from Pisa and 90 minutes north of Rome, stretches from Livorno to Grosseto, taking in beaches both rocky and sandy, wooded hills, thermal baths and protected natural parks.
“Italian holidaymakers love the Maremma but Britons don’t know it so well,” says Elisa Biglia of Great Estates.
“It is popular for the great climate, central location with good transport links and Italian atmosphere. The Maremma is green but less manicured than Chianti.”
Maremma home buyers can opt for one of the Med’s most seductive coasts, or lush countryside. Coastal homes carry a heavy premium but are still at least 20 per cent below those of upmarket resorts in northern Tuscany.
Coastal prices peak around Monte Argentario, a delightfully understated island in southern Maremma where unmade roads lead to exclusive cliff-top villas. Small villas with sea views and gardens can be found around Porto Santo Stefano, a year-round busy port with great seafood restaurants.
Villas cost £700,000 to £1 million. In Punta Ala, a 90-minute drive away, Gate-Away.com website has a three-bedroom first-floor flat by the beach for £320,500.
Go inland and £610,000 buys a top-quality, renovated farmhouse with pool, no more than 40 minutes from the sea. A one-bedroom stone house in pretty Montieri, 20 miles from the coast, is £69,000 through Gate-away.com. In the same hamlet, a four-bedroom farmhouse split into flats, in a hectare of land is £221,200 through Great Estates.
The Antinori family has made notable Tuscan wine for 26 generations and now works 160 hectares at Le Mortelle in southern Maremma. This wine estate is a must-visit.
The family took an old Tuscan farmhouse and added a starkly modern, briskly efficient winery, beautifully half-hidden among pomegranate and fig trees.
Le Mortelle produced its first wines in 2010 and today has a farm shop open to the public, along with a trattoria in the farmhouse, perfect for a long, languid lunch. Further north the Shard’s architect, Renzo Piano, has designed Rocca di Frassinello, an angular concrete-and-glass winery.
The vast cellar is filled with oak barrels containing the red wine that is made from Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
A place to stay
A number of small marinas and casually stylish beach bars along the coast make the Maremma a favourite yachting base. Punta Ala, south of Follonica, with sea to one side and low-level pines to the other, welcomes an upmarket crowd of sailors and golfers every summer. Baglioni Hotel Cala del Porto, overlooks the blisteringly bright white collection of yachts in Punta Ala marina from its quiet vantage point up the hill. A car is needed to get to the nearest busy village. Beyond there are views across the Bay of Follonica to the island of Elba. The smart and welcoming Cala del Porto is a member of Relais & Châteaux. There are 41 rooms, a fitness suite, a restaurant serving typically Tuscan dishes, and it’s just a 15-minute stroll downhill past walls of honeysuckle and jasmine to the beach club.
Baglioni Hotel Cala del Porto has rooms from £263 a night on a B&B basis (baglionihotels.com).
Great Estates: greatestate.it
Le Mortelle: open 10am-8pm May to October 31; 10am-1pm year round (lemortelle.it)
Rocca di Frassinello: roccadifrassinello.it.