SEA OR MOUNTAIN? BOTH: five destinations for not having to choose
It’s the eternal dilemma, the most frequent question that people ask themselves when planning a holiday. There are seaside lovers who would never give up a few days spent there to escape from the chaos of the city, immersed in salt water, sun and heat. While others can only really relax while exploring trails through trees and fresh air. The simple solution lies in the middle.
Here are five Italian destinations that enable you to opt for two holidays in one:
The Maremma Toscana
One quarter of the area known as the Maremma lies in Tuscany, in the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto, while the remainder is in Upper Lazio. The Maremma Toscana, however, is associated solely with the province of Grosseto.
With a high emphasis on sustainable development, this wild landscape enjoys a mild climate and a countryside and medieval villages that blend into the hills, the sea and the mountains. It offers a relaxing journey through a range of colours, scents and history. The Maremma Natural Park contains some stunning walking trails, enabling you to explore Monte Amiata and gain access to generally untouched local flora and fauna, with foxes and wild boar, wild horses and free-grazing herds.
The beaches of Marina di Alberese, Castiglione della Pescaia and the Gulf of Follonica make up a beautiful coastline that’s perfect for the whole family and for everyone who loves sunbathing and playing water sports in the blue sea. But in the same area you can also contemplate the ruins of the medieval past at Massa Marittima, Pitigliano and ancient cities of Etruscan origin like Roselle, Populonia, Sovana and Vetulonia.
This region’s geographical position is particularly well-blessed, being a short distance from both the beautiful beaches of north-east Sardinia and the mountains. Behind the Costa Smeralda and only a few kilometres inland from Arzachena, the panorama offers a spectacular scene. The Capichera valley is dominated by green Mediterranean scrubland, with tall trees and branches bent over by the mistral wind.
Gallura reveals a wild type of nature, ancient mountains and sculptured granite, ideal if you want to lose yourself in the mysterious history of an ancient civilization and admire its wonderful landscapes of dense, very green woodland. Then, heading for the sea you find the heavenly waters of the Costa Smeralda, with pristine white sand and a rocky coastline plunging straight down to the sea.
Liguria is a narrow strip of land stretched in a crescent shape in north-western Italy, and boasts one of the most interesting ecosystems in the entire peninsula. Here is another perfect alternative for your holiday combining both seaside and mountains within a stone’s throw.
Cinque Terre is a corner of paradise where mountain peaks and cliffs seem to fuse together for an incomparable panorama. This area has 18 kilometres of rocky coastline plunging to a sea dotted with beaches, bays and deep seabeds. This land was loved and glorified by many great names in Italian art including Dante Alighieri, Eugenio Montale (who lived in Monterosso), Vincenzo Cardelli and Boccaccio. Its recognisable and distinctive landscape is made up of terraces bordered by dry stone walls, with a wealth of vineyards and olive groves.
The wider area of the Cinque Terre possesses both a National Park and a Protected Marine Area. Here you can spend your holidays exploring the unique seabeds and shorelines or plunging deep through the walking trails that wind towards the mountain range inland. Trekking or kayaking and tasting the wide array of delicious local products. A holiday of peace and relaxation.
A territory spanning between the peaks of the Abruzzo National Park, the Gran Sasso and the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Starting in the National Park with its peaks, lakes, rivers, forests and around about 400 species of indigenous animals you can immerse yourself in a wide range of recreational and sports activities including trekking, horse riding, boating or skiing.
A hop of just a few kilometres then takes you to the shores of the Adriatic, choosing from an innumerable selection of localities – either with facilities or totally wild – to relax on the beach or take a refreshing dive in the sea. After which you can take one of the many lanes inland to return to the surrounding hills and mountains.
Ponza is the largest of the Pontine islands, an archipelago of volcanic origin situated off the Gulf of Gaeta and belonging to the Province of Latina. Its landscape is simultaneously strong and gentle, covered in agaves, gorse and prickly pears. You can opt to follow the steep paths winding away from the port in various directions, including one in particular that leads to the island’s highest peak. This is Monte della Guardia, which rises to 279 meters. Then you can carry on as far as the Faro (lighthouse) promontory, with a stunning view that will take your breath away.
It also has some wonderful beaches such as the Frontone and the Cala Feola, both of which are accessible by boat, or the Chiaia di Luna which can be reached after a long walk.