The name Maremma derives either from the Latin word maritima (coastal), or from the Spanish word marisma (marsh).
The region has been inhabitated since prehistory, but the main archaeological sites in the area date from the Etruscan and Roman period. Three Etruscan cities were located in the Maremma: Populonia, Roselle and Vetulonia.
In the Early Medieval period, most of the area was controlled by the Aldobrandeschi family, but in the 13th century the city state of Siena conquered Grosseto and transformed the landscape into a large pasture zone. The coastal zone from that period onwards was depopulated, and became an increasingly unhealthy place: wetlands extended all along the coast and were the source of endemic malaria. It was only during the fascist regime of Mussolini that most of the wetlands were drained and transformed into agricultural land.
The coastal zone for a long time also was home to numerous pirates and bandits, whose hideouts (as well as the towers built to curb their activities) can still be seen in some places.
Geographically, the Maremma can be subdivided into three regions, the Maremma Pisana or Livornese; the Maremma Grossetana or Senese; and the Maremma Laziale.
The Maremma is a relatively untouched and sparsely populated area (it has one of the lowest population densities in Italy), with very little industrialization. It offers a varied landscape of plains and hills, and has a fabulous and mostly unspoilt coastline. Mediterranean macchia (maquis) vegetation alternates with olive groves and vineyards, and sandy beaches with a rocky coastline. The inland hills are rich in natural hot springs.
Flora and fauna
The Maremma has a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and humid, mild winters. Rain is most frequent in October and November. Further inland and uphill, winter temperatures are lower.
The major towns on the coast (Tarquinia, Capalbio, Orbetello, Grosseto and Cecina) are on the main railway line from Rome to Pisa. Trains stop less frequently in smaller towns and villages. For information on train schedules and tickets, see the website of Trenitalia.
The Via Aurelia motorway (E80/SS1) connects all major towns between Rome and Pisa. The E78 connects Grosseto to Siena.
The railway lines only connect a limited number of towns and villages, and in most cases you will need additional transport by bus to get to your destination. Bus lines in the province of Grosseto and Livorno are operated by Tiemme SpA, see their website for more information on schedules and tickets (in Italian only!).
To reach smaller towns and villages, especially those in the interior part of the Maremma, a car is needed. Tortuous roads, climbing up and down from the hills, connect all minor centres.
Coast and beaches
For those who enjoy the sun and the sea, the Maremma is a perfect destination. Each year, the Maremma beaches and marinas are awarded the Blue Flag  recognizing the quality and purity of the waters along its 160 km of shoreline, where sandy and rocky coastlines alternate. Vast pine tree forests border many of the beaches of the Maremma, and in a few areas coastal wetlands have escaped urbanization, reclamation or draining, like the nature reserve of Diaccia Botrona near Castiglione della Pescaia.
The most important coastal resorts of the Maremma Grossetana are from north to south:
The Tuscan Archipelago, with the island of Giglio and the small island of Giannutri, is very impressive, and can be visited on a minicruise leaving from one of the many harbours of the coast of the Maremma.
Grosseto can be considered the capital of the Maremma. It has a beautiful cathedral and almost completely intact city walls.
The Tufo area
The Tufo area is one of the most beautiful areas in Tuscany - and still undiscovered by mass tourism. Tufo (tuff or tufa) is a volcanic, porous rock commonly used as a building material. The tuff has been quarried over the centuries to build houses, cellars and tombs or to make tufi, big square bricks which are typical of the villages and towns of this area of the Maremma.
The Tufo area has a unique mixture of archaeological, architectural and natural sites. Here you can find Etruscan tombs, Roman roads carved in tuff, small medieval towns like Pitigliano or Magliano in Toscana, together with natural hot springs and pleasant wooded hills.
The 'Metal Bearing Hills' have always been the industrial heart of the Maremma, and spread from the border with the province of Siena to the Gulf of Follonica. As their name implies they have been mined for iron, copper, lead, zinc, pyrite and silver for centuries.
A very impressive natural phenomenon in this area are the soffioni (borax fumaroles) near Monterotondo Marittimo and Travale, where you can see the vapour rise high through the tree-branches of the maquis.
The heart and capital of the Colline Metallifere is Massa Marittima, a real architectonic jewel of the Middle Ages. However, many villages and castles in the area are of great historical and artistic interest as well. Roccastrada, Sassofortino, Roccatederighi, Montemassi, Monterotondo Marittimo and many other villages in this area should not be missed.
This area is located on the route between Siena and the sea, and generally ignored by guidebooks and portals. The isolated position of these hills have protected and preserved its original rural character that has developed since the Middle Ages. It is the ideal base to explore Southern Tuscany without having to choose between the Siena area and the Maremma.
Touristic biking routes are detailed on the website of PisteCiclabili.com (in Italian only!).
Tuscany is well known for its thermal baths. The volcanic activity in the area gives rise to many sulphur-rich hot springs. The Maremma also features a number of them. Please note that in Italy thermal baths have a long medical tradition, so don't be surprised to find a wide range of wellness treatments on offer.
The Maremma region is not known for many specific dishes, but the local, traditional cuisine is very good. Typical of the region is the custom to serve unsalted bread with the food, which may come as a bit of a surprise. Food stuffs you may encounter while dining out or shopping includes:
An excellent and fun way of eating good real traditional food at a reasonable price is by going to one of the many village festivals organized in Summer, they are called Sagra.
Each year, the Maremma food and wine festival (Passione Maremma Food&Wine Shire) is held in Grosseto in the third weekend of May. The town is then filled with stalls where local producers sell their cheeses, sausages, pastries and wines, and free music performances can be enjoyed as well.
The local wines are not very well known outside the region, but they can be a good alternative to the somewhat overrated Tuscan wines from the Chianti region. The following D.O.C. wines are produced in the Maremma:
For a wine route through the Maremma, see the website of Le Strade del Vino della Maremma (Italian only).
Please be aware that prices for lodging in the area fluctuate depending on the season!
Most camp sites in the area are located on the coast. See the website of camping.info for locations and prices. Camping outside designated camp sites is not allowed in Italy!