Tuscany. Maremma. Foliage.

It is all about foliage in autumn, isn’t it?

When summer finally surrenders and disappears in the early twilight of the shortening days, the wave of fall colours hits the dry land and sets on fire the landscape that is slowly fading away.

It is all about the end and the new beginning, the sunset of the nature ever more spectacular in its seasonal swan song. The changing colours sign the transition, the period of change we call foliage.

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There are many places on our planet notoriously famous for the incomparable beauty of their foliage. But if you choose to visit Tuscany somewhere between the end of October and the beginning of November, weather conditions favourable and permitting, of course, there are these three places you could choose from to enjoy the specatcular foliage performance: the forests of Garfagnana, those of Casentino and the slopes of Mount Amiata in Maremma.

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Placed on the border between the province of Grosseto and that of Siena, this ancient extinct volcano called Amiata is the second highest in Italy after the Sicilian Etna. Its snowy winter peak is extremely popular with skiers and other winter sports lovers that come here not only from all over Tuscany, but also from the neighbouring regions and especially from Rome.

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In autumn Amiata’s slopes covered by thick forests explode in a kaleidoscope of fall colours and bring a variety of seasonal fruit, such as mushrooms and chestnuts, to the tables of the local culinary festivals called sagras (Sg. sagra). So, there’s no place like Amiata for those visiting Maremma, Val d’Orcia or Val di Chiana to enjoy foliage, local cuisine and the charm of the tiny medieval borgos (Sg. borgo) of the area. Such as that of Santa Fiora, for example.

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Santa Fiora is mentioned for the first time at the end of 10th century in one of the San Salvatore Abbey’s documents. The town once belonged to the Aldobrandeschi family, then to that of the Sforzas to become later the part of the Grand Dutchy of Tuscany.

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The pond of Peschiera, that somehow made me think of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse in Provence, is the town’s focal point. It dates back to the Middle Ages and was used to fish trouts. In 1851 under the supervision of Lorenzo Sforza the pond underwent a reconstruction that transformed the surrounding area in an English park dedicated to Donna Carolina. The last changes introduced to the characteristics of the park allowed it to acquire its modern aspect with the pool populated by swans, ducks and numerous trouts, surrounded by a variety of flowers and trees among which some pines, cypresses, holm oaks, cedars and magnolias.

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Apart from visiting this charming park, it is also a pleasure to have a stroll around the tiny city and have some relax in its main square named after Giuseppe Garibaldi.

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And, as usual, some information I hope you’ll find useful to arrange your trip to Santa Fiora:

  1. The entrance to the park of Peschiera is free for Santa Fiora’s residents and costs 1 euro for the town’s visitors.
  2. The park of Peschiera is usually open as follows:
  • from April 1st till May 31st from 9:00 am till 8:00 pm
  • from June 1st till August 31st from 9:00 am till midnight
  • from September 1st till September 30th from 9:00 am till 10:00 pm
  • from October 1st till March 31st from 9:00 am till 4:00 pm
  1. There is a public bathroom inside the park.
  2. If you travel by car, which is the most convenient way to move around the area, explore and admire it at its best, you can leave it at a free parking to the left of the entrance to the town. There are some good indications that will surely bring you to the destination. Moreover, as far as the parking is placed much lower then the main square of Santa Fiora, there is an elevator that will bring you up the hill and back to the parking again on your way out.
  3. There’s a very nice bar called Da Gigi in the main square. We had a glass of the great Banfi prosecco there. Choose the place if you fancy a drink and some rest after climbing the hill on your way back to the town from the park of Peschiera.

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There are so many unknown beauties Tuscany will gladly reveal to the curious and those looking for some special and unedited views. Open your mind to these new destinations and your eyes to this authentic Italian gems that burst out in blossom with the arrival of foliage.

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Special thanks and photos credit go to my amazing travel and life companion Machs Gut (c).

 

 

 

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