We all celebrate Tuscany for her Renaissance art, stunning olive groves and typical rolling hills. But have you ever heard about the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany? That’s right, Tuscany is so much more than those iconic green landscapes. Once you see the sparkle of the Tyrrhenian Sea in the distance, behind the golden vineyards, you’ll understand why the Costa degli Etruschi is such a special corner of Europe. Not convinced? Well, give me a chance to explain. These are the most important things you should know about the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany.
The History Behind the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany
Now, you must be wondering why the Tuscan coastline carries the name of the mysterious Etruscans in the first place. The Etruscans were an ancient civilization that lived in the central parts of Italy. The name ‘Tuscany’ is actually the modern-day version of the term ‘Tusci’ or ‘Etrusci’. We’re not quite sure why, but that’s what the Romans used to call them. Before the Etruscans slowly became part of the local Roman culture, they founded many cities, including Florence, Pisa, and Siena.
Populonia was a Major Etruscan City
Another one of those cities was Populonia. Now, it is only a tiny hilltop village that overlooks the Bay of Baratti. But back in the day, it was the only Etruscan village that was next to the sea. This strategic location meant that Populonia quickly became an important trading town. Since the nearby hills were full of bronze of copper, Populonia continued to grow. So much so, that the town had around 20 000 inhabitants in Roman times: a major city for the period.
The Archaeological Park of Populonia
The old Populonia may have disappeared, but, today, there is an enormous archaeological park that covers over 80 hectares. The park is also home to the biggest necropolis in Italy. This is where thousands of Etruscans and Romans buried their loved ones. And still, the entire area is full of traces from the past. That includes pieces of ancient roof tiles, vases, dishes, and even human bones. And remember: all of these remains are at least 2500 years old.
Populonia is home to the biggest necropolis in Italy, where thousands of Etruscans and Romans buried their loved ones.
The Wines from the Etruscan Coast are Extraordinary
The Etruscans gained a reputation as a peaceful, hard-working people. But they were also skilled at one specific thing: producing, trading, and drinking wine (vinum). Researches have recently shared a theory that even the first French winemarkers learned the trade from the Etruscans around 525 BC.
The Super Tuscans
To this day, the Etruscan Coast is a sensational area when it comes the the world of wine. The town of Bolgheri, also known for its famous avanue of cypress trees, is the epicenter of the Super Tuscans. These super wines are a category of DOC wines and several of them hold the world-wide status of being top-quality wines.
A wonderful place to get to know the Etruscan Coast as a wine region is the Guado al Melo winery. Here, you can see the vineyards up close and learn about the history of local viticulture (from Etruscan times to present-day). Of course, you can also book a wine tasting as the cherry on top. Did you know that letting grapevines grow on an arch like this makes grape harvesting much easier?
The Unspoiled Beaches along the Etruscan Coast of Tuscany
The most beautiful beaches on the Etruscan coastline stretch from Marina di Bibbona all the way to Populonia. While towns like Marina di Bibbona and Castiglioncello look out on the Tyrrhenian Sea, the shoreline near and along the Gulf of Baratti (very close to Populonia) is equally worth a visit. This area offers some of the most unspoiled sandy beaches in the region.
Naturally, the Etruscan coast is just as perfect for a day at the beach. I’m thinking swimsuits, sandcastles, and sunscreen. Since the Etruscan coast is a lot less hilly than the interior areas of Tuscany, it’s a also great idea to rent a bicycle or e-bike. This way, you can cycle along the rugged coast, but also take a few breaks on the beaches. You can then continue your way to the Monte Massoncello Peninsula to visit the archaeological park of Populonia.
The Most Magical Sunsets in Italy
Finally, I think it is fair to say that the Etruscan Coast probably experiences the most magical sunsets in Italy. That alone is enough of a reason to visit the Etruscan Coast. Well, according to me at least (a trustworthy authority on sunset quality, I promise).
The Etruscan Coast faces west, which creates the perfect setting for the most amazing scenes when the day turns to night. Every evening (as long as it’s not too cloudy), the orange sun sinks into the shimmering water. The sky shows all sorts of pink and purple tones, while the surrounding vineyards turn golden. What a way to end your day.
Read More About My Travels in Italy:
Curious to know more about the different regions in Italy? Take a look at my other articles:
- 6 Things You Can Only Do in South Tyrol
- Gelato and Street Art: The Best Things to do in Bologna
- Portraits from Tuscany: Discovering the Region Through its People
This article is based on a press trip that was organised by IDEM Servizitalia and Toscana Promozione. Thank you again for the invite!