Published on: 2 February 2014 | Last updated: 1 January 2020
The Gran Tour della Maremma is a 405-kilometre circular tour in the south-western part of Toscana. It takes in some of the regions’s most interesting hilltop towns, and takes you from the sea to the shoulder of the Monte Amiata. Monte Amiata is the great mountain (strictly speaking a volcanic dome) that is the key landmark of the south Tuscan landscape.
It takes you through several hilltop towns that are among the most authentic in Toscana including Massa Marittima, Capalbio, Magliano in Toscana, Sorano, Sovana and Pitigliano. As well as the hilltop towns there are also a number of Etruscan sites including the Vie Cave - the roadways cut by the Etruscans thousands of years ago.
The Maremma occupies about a quarter of Toscana (and a chunk of northern Lazio). It’s an area that definitely has its own distinctive character and history. There’s a lot to see and enjoy here. The Strada del Vino e dei Sapori Colle Maremma has commissioned an excellent promotional video, it’s in Italian, but even if you don’t understand the commentary, the photography is gorgeous. (A white space means the vimeo servers are down).
The tour primarily follows quiet, tarmac roads, but there are a couple of sections of unsurfaced road - but there are variants which enable you to avoid the more difficult bits (the variants are shown on the interactive map and included in the route file).
Map and altitude profile
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The route officially starts in Massa Marittima, but of course you could start in other places, for example at Grosseto. The signage is excellent and works reasonably well in both directions, however, the local authority has taken a different approach to routemarking in that instead of a sign with the name of the route, the signs have the name of the next town or village. There’s a lot to be said for this approach, but bear in mind that there are a number of routes in the area so you need to have an idea of the places on the route.
There’s about 4700 metres of climbing in total over the route, with four climbs over 200 metres in altitude gain.
More about the main climbs
The biggest climb is the section on the Monte Amiata (starting at 97 kilometres into the route) which climbs to a high point of 822m with an altitude gain of 780 metres over 40 kilometres. That’s then followed by a descent of nearly 300 metres and another climb of 295 metres over ten kilometres. There are two other significant climbs further on: between Magliano-Toscana and Scansano (498 metres of altitude gain over 22 kilometres); and on the final climb into Massa Marittima (400 metres altitude gain over 27 kilometres).
There are two main variants on the route. The first, a little way after Sassofortino, about 38 kilometres from Massa Marittima, enables you to avoid sections of sterrata (unsurfaced road), should you wish to, and reduce the length of the route by almost 60 kilometres. The second, at Sovana, about 200 kilometres into the route) enables you to avoid ‘il muro di Monte Nero’ (the wall of Monte Nero’) a 1.2-kilometre section on the way to San Martino with gradients of between 15 and 20 per cent.
A third variant is a detour from to Capalbio and the coast.
Map showing route variants
- ━━━━━ Main route: section on surfaced road
- ━━━━━ Main route: section on unsurfaced road
- ━━━━━ variants
Options and connections
You could connect this route to the Grand Tour della Val di Merse by taking the very scenic road via Roccastrada. Here’s a map showing the two routes and the links between them: show map in overlay show map in new window.
The Bicitalia Ciclovia Tirrenica shares the coastal section of the route. You could head north along the coast towards Pisa (see this article or south along the Lazio.
You could also head towards Campiglia Marittima and from there take the high road along the coast
And if you want to spend some time on the coast, my advice would be to head for Elba which I think is a better option than the mainland coast, which can be a little dull with not very good-value campsites.
From Arcidosso and Monte Amiata you could also head north towards Pienza, Montepulciano and Siena, or south for northern Lazio and Rome.
You could head for the summit of Monte Amiata (1738m) and return via Abbadia di San Salvatore.
The official route heads clockwise from Massa Marittima towards Arcidosso (822m) on the slopes of Monte Amiata (1738m). A major part of the climbing on the route is in this first third.
A little way after Sassofortino, about 38 kilometres from Massa Marittima, you have the first of two linked variants that avoid sections of sterrata (unsurfaced road) and reduce the length of the route by almost 60 kilometres. The variant takes you through the town of Roccastrada where you can climb up to the Belvedere (viewpoint) on the old city walls with views out over the coast. There’s also a nice restaurant (the Picio Matto) hidden away in the old town.
Arcidosso to Sovana
From Arcidosso the route turns back towards the coast and the hilltop towns of Sorano, Sovana and Pitigliano - the zona del tufo so called after the soft tufo rock. There’s lots to see here:
- Sorano and Pitigliano are both definite stops to explore. There are plenty of restaurants so they are nice places to stop for a meal or a glass of wine;
- in Pitigliano the most interesting sight is the Piccolo Gerusalemme (Little Jerusalem) the old Jewish ghetto of the city including its synagogue. The Jewish population of the town were evicted from their homes by order of the duke of Toscana and compelled to live in the tiny ghetto. You can visit the synagogue as well as buying a sfrato - a sweet pastry that commemorates their confinement to the ghetto (sfrato means ‘eviction’). Open every day except Saturdays;
- around Sovana, Sorana and Vitozza are the Città del Tufo archaeological sites. These include an Etruscan necropolis near Sovana, but the most fascinating and enigmatic remnants of the Etruscan era are the Vie Cave - paths and roads constructed by cutting away the rock. The biggest is wide enough to drive a car through;
- as well as the Etruscan sites there’s the medieval settlement of Vitozza where the villagers built homes into the tufo. You can also pigeon lofts - colombari - with spaces for the pigeons to roost carved out to the rock.
From Sovana to Grosseto and Massa Marittima
At Sovana (about 200 kilometres into the route) there’s another option - you can continue on towards Manciano and ‘il muro (wall) di Monte Nero’ a 1.2-kilometre section on the way to San Martino with gradients of between 15 and 20 percent. You may prefer to take the variant of doubling back to Pitigliano, and from there to Manciano.
At Manciano you can detour off towards Capalbio and the coast. The detour is well worth taking especially to visit Capalbio, a lovely walled town with great views out over the coast. Nearby, if you have the time and the energy you might also want to visit the Giardino dei Tarocchi (IT). Tarot Garden. A garden with 22 huge sculptures covered with brightly coloured ceramics (the garden was inspired by Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona). Check out the gallery for a flavour of what to expect. Entry is 12€ and the gardens are open from 14:30 to 19.30.
From Manciano the main route continues on towards Magliano in Toscana. Near the town you pass the ruined church of San Bruzio. If you have time, detour off to visit Magliano and look out from its city walls. After Magliano quiet roads take you to Grosseto. I bypassed the centre of Grosseto but according to the Lonely Planet guidebook.
“The old walls, raised in 1559, form a near-perfect hexagon. Within, where refreshingly few tourists penetrate, the historic old town has unpretentious enticements and genuinely friendly, good-value eating and sleeping options. ”
A stretch of road converted into a cycleway takes you from to the coast. In a nice touch the local authorities have planted hundreds of trees along the cycleway. At the moment (2013) the trees are fairly young but they promise to turn the cycleway into a gorgeous tree-lined arcade.
At the coast there’s another cycleway through the coastal pineta to Castiglione della Pescaia. From Castiglione it turns back towards Massa Marittima.
Maps to print out or view offline
About the maps
The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smartphones. (A4 and A5 are international paper sizes).
Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.
- Gran Tour della Maremma gps files
(.zip file containing 15 gpx track files)
- Italy Points of Interest
POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include information about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instructions. Updated April 2018. The file format is only compatible with Garmin GPSes .
Places to stay
Hostels and B&Bs
There are a number of campsites along the coast (I stayed at the Maremma Sans Souci).
Inland, campsites can be more difficult to find. These are the ones I’ve stayed at or know of:
Transport and services
The main train station for the area is at Grosseto.
The main tourism website for the area is turismoinmaremma.it. The website of the Strada del Vino e dei Sapori Colli di Maremma has a useful map showing hotels restaurants as well as vineyards and enoteche (wine bars).
Information about the Etruscan sites
- Parco degli Etruschi - Sorano City of Tufo Archaeological Park (Sorano)
- Parco degli Etruschi - Pitigliano Open-Air Museum
- Parco degli Etruschi - The “colombari” of Pitigliano and Sorano
- Parco degli Etruschi - Rupestrian settlement of Vitozza (Sorano)
- Parco degli Etruschi - The “Vie Cave” of Pitigliano and Sovana
- Parco degli Etruschi - Pitigliano, Synagogue
The Piccola Gerusalemme (Little Jerusalem)
For more about the Piccola Gerusalemme see this excellent article: New York Times: A Little Jerusalem in the Heart of Italy. There’s also the website of the Associazione La Piccola Gerusalemme (it).