Top 5 A Touch of Nature


1. Parco Maremma : The Maremma’s foremost nature park has a lifetime’s worth of walking trails and tracks for all skill levels.

You can explore the park’s hidden medieval watchtowers and discover the story of the beautiful princess who was kidnapped by Turkish pirates and taken back to a harem in Istanbul or you can skip it all and relax on the park’s beach.

On a beautifully clear day you can see all the way to Elba Island, where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled.

The park is also home to the last surviving wild Maremma-breed cows and their faithful watchmen, the Butteri (the Maremman cowboys).

2. Burano Lake : The WWF Oasis Burano Lake has been nicknamed Walt Disney’s lake.

The name has nothing to do with giant pants-wearing mice or American theme parks and everything to do with its spectacular setting and array of fauna that call the park home.

The park has a walking trail for nature lovers and various lookout spots for avid bird watchers.

The park is also home to some of the Maremma’s flamingos population.

These bright pink birds look a little out of place in the wetlands, but they’re still gorgeous.

3. Parco Amiata : Amiata’s Rocconi nature park is home to grey wolves, donkeys and the remains of David Lazzaretti’s Zionist church.

Even if you don’t make it to the park’s summit to see the crumbled church and home of this turn-of-the-century’s prophet, there’s something unforgettable about walking in such a naturally beautiful corner of the world, getting up close and personal with the animals – don’t worry, the wolves are behind fences – and just enjoying the peace and beauty of the landscape.

4. Giardino Tarocchi : In the Maremma, you should always expect the unexpected, but even I was surprised to find Niki Saint de Phalle’s Tarot Garden just outside of Capalbio.

This is the life’s work a French-American artist who wanted to create her own Gaudi-inspired sanctuary in Tuscany.

The park has 22 soaring statues styled after the 22 Tarot cards.

There is no designated path, so you’re free to wander from the beautiful Castle to the frightening Death. All the statues are decorated with hundreds of hand-cut and placed mosaic tiles.

The Tarot Garden isn’t open all year round, but only from April to October. Tickets are 12 euro.

5. Giardino Spoerri : Another art garden, this time located just outside of Seggiano and created by Romanian artist Daniel Spoerri and his many international friends.

The inspiration for the more than 100 pieces is anything goes as long as it’s modern and moving.

The personal favourite is Hoeppi’s marching stone ducks, lifestyle figures following the beats of stone drummer men, while a little boy looks on.

Spoerri’s garden isn’t open all year round, but only between the months of April to November each year.

Tickets are 10 euro.