The ancient Romans were the first to cultivate the marshes of the Maremma, but after the collapse of their empire the area went virtually uninhabited until the 18th entury. The land has since been reclaimed, the irrigation canals unblocked and farming developed on the fertile soil. The Parco Naturale dell’Uccellina was set up in 1975 to protect the abundant local flora and fauna and prevent more development taking place.
The Maremma Nature Park can be reached both from Alberese and from Talamone and includes a number of different itineraries. The Park's fascination lies in the diversity of its environments. In the marshy zone, the last example of the swamps that were typical of the Maremma countryside, flora and fauna live in perfect balance. Rare birds such as the Black-winged Stilt and the Mallard live here as well as migratory birds of all types and unique plants like the wild orchid. The pine forest in Alberese and the Monti dell'Uccellina constitute an uncontaminated hillside environment covered by thick Mediterranean scrub, including the strawberry tree and the mastic tree. Fragrant bushes like heather and rosemary grow in the occasional clearings and rare dwarf palms cling to the rocks. You regularly see horses and Maremma cattle grazing and its not unusual to spot wild boar, deer and roe deer in the area. And finallym there are the splendid beaches with all their wild fascination unmarred. From Principina a Mare to Alberese and on to Cala di Forno the coast is a long line of beaches, with many untouched stretches of dunes covered with white lilies and other native plants. Another important factor in the Park is anthropological. The prehistoric finds from various caves demonstrate that area was settled in the very distant past. Remains from an Etruscan settlement have been ascertained at the port in Talamone. The Roman presence is more widely represented by the ruins of the Ponte del Diavolo on the left bank of the Ombrone and the remains of a villa on the southern slopes of the Monti dell'Uccellina. However, the most significant remains are certainly the watchtowers constructed during the Sienese dominion for defence against the Saracen invasions. There are seven left standing: Trappola, Castelmarino, Collelungo, Uccellina, Cala di Forno, Bella Marsilia and Cannelle. On the eastern side of the Monti dell'Uccellina chain is the San Rabano Abbey. Here, the meeting with man's past is even mora amazing. This imposing religious monument, founded in the 11th century by Benedectine monks, is a splendid example of Romanesque architecture with ornamental freezes and capitals marvellously inserted into a beautiful natural environment. A work of human intelligence, that stands as an oasis in the park's untamed panorama of scrub, mountains and swamps. The Azienda Agricola Regionale di Alberese (The Alberese Regional Agriculture Concern) has worked within the Park for more than twenty years. The enterprise covers over 4.200 hectares including areas left as wood as and marshes and others used as pastures or cultivated in olive trees, vineyards and grain. Organic planting, in addition to that for wine and oil, is directed toward the production of organically raised meat from Maremma free-range calves fed entirely with fodder produced by the concern itself. The Azienda also boasts of an artistic and architectural heritage that has been improved and restored: the Villa Granducale, used as its official seat; the San Rabano Abbey; the Collelungo tower; the Lorraine Storehouses in Sergolaia where various types of agricultural machinery from the 19th century are on exhibit. Not only history is preserved, but also tradition. The “buttero” or cowboy's skill has been included by the Tuscan Regional government among the ancient jobs at risk of disappearing. Traditionally the buttero has always cared for the cattle raised on the range in this area comprising wide, open spaces, rocky slopes and marshes. And today, as before, the few remaining butteri follow the herd throughout the year, check the pastures, train horses, maintain the stalls and fencing and personally take care of their equipment, saddles and harnesses, as they're also skilled at working leather.
In the North of Ombrone
There is a plain covered by Paludi della Trappola: that is a system of stretches of water, partly seasonal and partly permanent (the so-called "chiari" or "bozzi") alternating with not very evident dunes. A typical feature of this Park area is the presence of Maremma cattle bred in a wild state all year round. The inland waters house several migratory aquatic birds during the winter, but other avifauna species live here all year round. The farthest lands from the see have been subject to reclamation activities, and are now covered by agricultural fields and modern zootechnical breedings. The territory described forms part of the delta of Ombrone, a stretch of which cuts with meanders the Park territory.
On the Left of the Mouth of Ombrone
On the left of the mouth of the river Ombrone there is a territory characterized by a compact system of dunes alternating with marshy grounds of limited size and mainly covered with a pinewood. The Stone Pine wood is separated from the sea by a strip of Maritime Pines having the function to protect the territory from the harmful action of the salty winds. This area is crossed by some artificial canals dating back to the 18th-century first land reclamations.
The Park Central and Southern Area
The central and southern Park areas are dominated by Monti dell'Uccellina, is a system of mountains, partly of calcareous nature and partly siliceous, reaching the 417 meters of Poggio Lecci. These mountains are today almost completely covered with a thick forest vegetation (Mediterranean maquis). Only the lower part of the slopes has been deforested and transformed into olive grove or pasture. On Uccellina Mountains there are ancient religious towers and buildings witnessing the past human presence and activity in the area: the Abbey of San Rabano - which is very damaged - and the towers of Castelmarino, Collelungo, Cala di Forno, and Bella Marsilia.
Talamone stands on a little promontory, dominated by an ancient Sienese fortress, to the extreme south of the Monti dell'Uccellina. There are the remains of a Roman villa, while in the caves forming at the foot of the calcareous cliffs some prehistorical evidences dating back to the Paleolithic period have been found.
The Park is open all year round, all week.
To enter, purchase tickets at the entrance at the Visitor Center. It is possible to take a tour on your own or in a group, with a guide or not, depending on the time of the year.
To enter the Park, purchase tickets at the entrance at the Visitor Centers.
The Visitor Centres of the Park (Centro Visite del Parco) are situated in Alberese and in Talamone.
Alberese Visitor Center
Via del Bersagliere, 7/9 - Alberese (Gr)
Tel. +39 0564 407098 - Fax. +39 0564 407278
Open every day including holidays with the following timetable: from October 1 to March 22, 8.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.; from March 23 to September 30, 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Visitor Center and Talamone Aquarium
Via Nizza, 12 - Talamone (Gr)
Tel. +39 0564 887173 - Fax. +39 0564 887173
Open every day including holidays with the following timetable: from September 1 to June 30, 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.; from July 1 to August 31, 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon and from 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
A1 - San Rabano | Departure: from Pratini | 7,2 km, 3.30 hours
It is a spectacular itinerary for the wonderful views it offers and for the presence of an abbey at half of the itinerary. It presents some difficulties linked to the morphological features of the itinerary itself. The ascent you will find at the beginning covers a difference in height of about 300 meters and is accessible to everyone by taking the necessary precautions.
A2 - The Towers | Departure: from Pratini | 6 km, 3 hours
It is a short itinerary accessible to everyone, but it has a steep and slippery descent when you reach the first tower. It is considered the most representative itinerary of the Park because it touches all the environments of the protected area offers beautiful views.
A3 - The Caves | Departure: from Pratini | 9,6 km, 3 hours
The itinerary of the caves is different from the other ones, first of all because it is rather easy to go through, and secondly because its main point of interest is the area where the grand-ducal pinewood lies. As a matter of fact, the main points of interest of this itinerary are the pinewood, the Scoglietto - Collelungo canal, and the caves.
A4 - Cala di Forno | Departure: from Pratini | 12 km, 4 hours
It is a demanding itinerary not only for the harshness of the territory, but for its length: as a matter of fact, it does not present uphills or descents and it has not dangerous locations. If you are well-trained, you can finish the itinerary in a shorter time with respect to the scheduled one.
A5/A6 - Dedicated to fauna and forest | Departure: from the Church in Alberese, on the left of the façade | 6 km, 2 hours
The itinerary dedicated to forest and fauna is a didactic itinerary developing on an area of about forty hectares. It mainly develops on a level ground, at intermediate altitude on the hill facing Alberese. It does not present any difficulty and it has been partly equipped for disabled people.
A7 - Mouth of the river Ombrone | Departure: from the parking area in Marina di Alberese, go back for about 500 meters up to a little bridge. From here take a secondary asphalt road (close to the traffic) going northwards | 5 km, about 2 hours
The itinerary leading to the mouth of the river Ombrone is without a doubt one of the most interesting itineraries in the Park. An easy and entirely flat route, 50% of which developing along an asphalt road and suitable for everyone, also for disabled people.
A8 - Macchiozze (Observation Point) | 500 meters, about 1 hour
T1 - Punta del Corvo | about 3 kms, about 2 hours
The itinerary starts from the Visitor Center of the Caprarecce. A slightly uphill road surrounded by dry vegetation leads us to an area characterized by a higher vegetation until you reach the almost flat ridge itinerary. The route continues up to a panoramic area called Punta del Corvo, where there is a covered-roof terrace giving the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful view over the coast and some islands of the Archipelago Toscano.
T2 - Cannelle | about 7,5 kms, about 3 hours
The departure of this itinerary takes place from the Visitor Center of the Caprarecce. After a slightly uphill road surrounded by dry vegetation, you will enter an area characterized by a higher vegetation (an ilex grove artificially maintained in a shrub state with periodical cuttings) until you reach the ridge itinerary near the location Punta del Corvo.
T3 - Poggio Raso | about 10 km, about 5 hours
Also this itinerary leaves from the same departure point of T1 and T2, that is from Caprarecce, but T3 develops in its initial part along the stretch used in the other itineraries for the return. It is characterized by uphill stretches, in particular as far as the final one is concerned, until you reach the ridge.
P1 - Birdwatching Chiari della Trappola | about 2,5 km, about 2 hours
It is a very easy itinerary, mainly developing on level ground. It can be gone through only during the winter and with guided visits.