The Natural Parks of Tuscany, for an even greener holiday
Tuscany is one of the Italian regions with the largest number of parks and nature reserves: most are concentrated in the province of Grosseto, along the coast of the Maremma, right where Orbetello Camping Village is located.
Natural Park of the Tuscan Maremma
It is the most known Natural Park in the region, also called the "Parco dell'Uccellina" because it is the destination chosen by many species of birds in the migratory season and because it contains, within it, the Uccellina Mountains.
The Tuscan Maremma Park extends south of the Maremma coast, from Principina a Mare to Talamone, in a succession of natural environments between hills, Mediterranean scrub, cultivated fields, dunes, sand and cliffs.
Do not miss the view visible from the top of its hills, which stretches along the whole Tyrrhenian coast up to the Island of Giglio, the Island of Elba and Corsica.
The Park is the natural habitat of many animal species - which you can easily meet during an excursion - such as foxes, porcupines, deer and wild horses and cattle, guarded by the traditional Maremma guardians, the butteri.
You can visit the Regional Park of the Tuscan Maremma all year round, individually or in groups, accompanied or not by a guide along its suggestive itineraries.
To get to the Park from the Orbetello Camping Village, just reach the locality Alberese (about 30 km north of the campsite) along the SS Aurelia up to the junction at km 166: from here, continuing along the road that crosses a picturesque countryside, you will arrive to the Visitor Center where you can buy admission tickets for the Park.
National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago
The Tuscan Archipelago National Park, the largest marine park in Europe, includes all the seven main islands of the Tuscan Archipelago:
- The island of Elba, the third largest island in Italy with the unmistakable hilly and mountainous landscape and the coastline of gulfs and inlets;
- The island of Giglio, the island with suggestive beaches and wonderful backdrops, ideal for diving enthusiasts;
- The island of Capraia, an ancient Roman residential settlement, today an island of fortress-houses and with pristine waters;
- The island of Montecristo, entirely a natural reserve for both the terrestrial and marine areas;
- The island of Pianosa, from the coasts to sandy and rocky stretches, with the suggestive beaches of white sand;
- The island of Giannutri, a limestone island with a rich biodiversity;
- The island of Gorgona, the smallest of the archipelago, with only 2.23 square kilometers of surface, inhabited by man since the Neolithic.
According to legend, the seven islands of the Archipelago were seven pearls of a necklace that Venus, goddess of beauty and love, lost while swimming in the Mediterranean. And like the pearls of a necklace, the islands appear unique, each one different from the other, united by the magic of the nature of the Archipelago and the calm and welcoming sea.
The Park is the largest protected area of the European seas and on its islands it is possible to spot some rare species such as the Corsican seagull, the monk seal and some varieties of cetaceans.
In the main centers of some islands of the Archipelago you can visit the "Case del Parco" for free: educational centers to discover the most suggestive corners of the territory through itineraries through images, open from March to September.
The island, protected by Europe's largest marine park - The Tuscan Archipelago National Park - is easily accessible by a ferry that leaves from Porto Santo Stefano: it is recognized for the wonders of its natural environment. The crystal-clear emerald sea, with its rich and richly-fished seabed, frame a still wild 90% area, rich in Mediterranean flora that invites you to venture along the many pedestrian paths.
The most important places on the island are:
- Giglio Porto is today a small, very characteristic inhabited center, with colorful and narrow houses, forming alleys and lanes, arranged parallel along the entire slope facing the sea, the two characteristic lighthouses towering over the respective piers and the ancient Torre del Saraceno (1596).
- Giglio Campese is a small town about 5 km from Giglio Castello, lying on the western side and overlooking the Gulf of Campese and characterized by the famous faraglione and the homonymous tower. In summer, Giglio Campese is a seaside resort with a large and characteristic grainy beach, frequented by tourists and diving enthusiasts.
- Giglio Castello, a medieval village, fascinating for the imposing structure of its walls (XI century), appears even more suggestive if you follow the path along the walkways between louvers and trioni (towers), or you can explore its alleys, embossed and interrupted by stairs and baschetti (typical terraces with steps outside the houses). The characteristic main entrance, with three doors leaning against cyclopic granite boulders, still bears witness to the times of pirate raids and dominant dominions, as shown by the Medici coat of arms on the last arch.
But the sea and its seabed are the flagship of an island that has always paid particular attention to the protection of its natural environment, and the variety of its coast, which alternates cliffs overlooking the sea to more or less wide beaches that easily adapts to more types of tourists. The places where you can go diving are practically all around the coast: the Trestles, dry the Pignocchi, Punta delle Secche, Punta del Fenaio, Cala Monella, Punta del Morto, the Drought of the Cross, Cala Cupa, Le Scole, dry Zampa di Gatto , rock of Pietrabona, cove del Corvo, point of the Red Capel and the cove of Allume.
The largest beaches equipped with umbrellas and deckchairs rental are, in the order of size, Campese, Cannelle, Arenella and Caldane. All the beaches are freely accessible without the obligation to rent the equipment and can be reached by car, with the exception of Caldane, where you arrive by sea or by a comfortable footpath of about 1 km.
Island of Giannutri
Reachable by ferry from Porto Santo Stefano, Giannutri Island is a large natural park, an integral part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. The two ports of the island, Cala Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra, are of Roman origin, as can be seen from the ancient ruins as soon as they dock on the island.
Not far from Cala Maestra there is also the Roman building complex called "Le stanze", inside which there is a tavern where it is possible to have lunch. However, the most significant historical testimony remains the complex of ruins of the Roman villa that belonged to the Domizi Enobardi family of the II century. d. C. The entrance to the villa is decorated with a mosaic depicting the myth of the labyrinth.
The coast is rocky, with numerous caves, and the seabed is rich in fish, which makes the Isle of Giannutri ideal for lovers of scuba diving. Being a natural park, however, diving, as well as baths, can only be carried out in permitted places or by organized excursions. Anyone who wants to visit the protected area of the island from June 1 to October 12, must book and purchase the entrance ticket to the protected area of the island of Giannutri. Just contact a guide in advance from the Park guide list.
The WWF Oasis in the territory of Orbetello
In the territory of Orbetello, Argentario and Capalbio there are some of the WWF oases in Tuscany. First of all the Lagoon of Orbetello which, thanks to its position along the migratory routes, sees the concentration of thousands of birds (including the Pink Flamingos and the Italian Knight) especially in the winter period.
On the tomb of the Giannella there is instead the Environmental Education Center "Aurelio Peccei", founded in 1989 in the ancient farmhouse of Giannella, built between 1821 and 1822. It was created for naturalistic and educational purposes: it in fact, it promotes many initiatives for education in respect for and protection of nature.In this center work camps, summer adventure camps, green weeks and educational trips for schools and research activities are organized.The center provides schools with educational packages, approved by the WWF, with daily excursions, the Butterfly Garden is part of the complex, a path that winds its way close to the farmhouse, with educational panels describing some species of butterflies and their biological cycle.
Finally, the WWF Reserve of Lake Burano, a brackish coastal lagoon near Capalbio. It occupies an area of 410 hectares, of which 140 are covered by the lake and can be visited by participating in excursions organized by the WWF itself. The reserve is an ideal place for birdwatchers, as they go to winter and stop a large number of birds, from wild geese to herons. In the reeds there are also nightingale of river, the ducks ducks, ospreys, etc. At the visitors' disposal there are numerous sighting towers, observatory huts and equipped routes.