Civitella Marittima is a quaint village, perched on the top of a hill with grand views over the Tuscan countryside as we know it: gentle rolling hills, row upon row of vines, stately villas and the quintessential cypress trees. This centuries-old village, located just off the main highway that links Siena and Grosseto, is often overlooked by tourists. If it weren’t for an invitation from my friends Gloria and Marcel to visit them, I would’ve overlooked this gorgeous village as well. There isn’t much to see and do in Civitella Marittima but its excellent location in the heart of Tuscany makes it the perfect base from which to explore the major sights like Siena, Montalcino, Montepulciano, the Maremma and the Chianti. When you’re not out exploring the countryside, Civitella is a great place to just sit back and observe life in a traditional Tuscan village.
Gloria explained to me that the village can trace its origins back to the Etruscan period (around 600 B.C.) though it became a more permanent settlement during the medieval period. These days, it’s a sleepy place but one that provides a fascinating peek into village life in Tuscany. The villagers work in the surrounding vineyards and olive groves. Most of the young have moved to the larger towns where they work and live, often returning to the village in the weekends. The elderly gather around the village’s two main squares in the mornings and early-evenings for a chat and a laugh.
Let’s go for a little stroll around Civitella Marittima.
There’s a little square with an ancient well in its centre. Beautiful centuries-old houses line the square, with the day’s laundry hanging outside the windows.
Behind a curtain of beads is a little bakery that sells the most divine panini. It’s not hard to find it. Catch a whiff of the freshly-baked bread and follow your nose.
The centuries-old buildings with their colourful shutters and wooden doors exude a certain charm that’s unique to Tuscany.
Patches of forest interchange with fruit orchards and vineyards – the views from the village of the surrounding hills are simply gorgeous.
The villagers are always in for a chat. In the mornings, they gather at the village’s two squares or drop by at a friend’s doorstep for a daily update. I wonder what they talk about. The latest village gossip perhaps?
Ahhh… and in the evenings, one place will absolutely tantalise your taste buds: Locanda Nel Cassero. The owner was a top chef in the Savoy in London but he returned to his home village and is now a star in the region. The rustic ambiance is the perfect decor for the food and wines which simply are Tuscany at its best.
Where to stay in Civitella Marittima
My friends Gloria and Marcel own a vacation rental in the village which I can highly recommend. The house has been in the family for generations and Gloria and Marcel did a superb job in renovating the house, adding today’s modern comforts whilst maintaining its old-world charm.
There’s a lovely, well-equipped kitchen with a beautiful fireplace and a large bedroom with attached bathroom. The evenings are wonderfully quiet (I slept like a baby!) and in the mornings, the sound of the villagers’ chatter seep through the kitchen window.
Gloria and Marcel know Tuscany very well and will provide you with loads of tips on things to do and see. They can arrange a multitude of activities such as wine tastings, cooking classes, grape or olive harvesting, and suggest restaurants, places to visit or lovely drives through the Tuscan countryside.