A peek into village life in Tuscany


Civitella Marittima

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.

The village square with its well

The day's laundry fluttering in the breeze

The bell towers can be seen from miles away

Quaint houses crowd the centre of Civitella Marittima

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.

Entrance to the local bakery

The centuries-old buildings with their colourful shutters and wooden doors exude a certain charm that’s unique to Tuscany.

A typical street in Civitella

Patches of forest interchange with fruit orchards and vineyards – the views from the village of the surrounding hills are simply gorgeous.

The views of the Tuscan countryside from the main square

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?

Exchanging the daily gossip?

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.

Try the best of the local wines

Tuscan cuisine: simple and pure

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.

For inquiries, please visit Casinadirosa or @reply Gloria on Twitter.

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22 Responses to “A peek into village life in Tuscany”

  1. Jenn D 19/09/2012 8:20 pm

    Awesome post! Dreaming of visiting someday.

  2. Julia 24/02/2012 8:40 pm

    Tuscany is such a friendly, beautiful, DELICIOUS place! And the idea of a house rental is very wise!

  3. velvet 17/05/2011 9:24 pm

    Thanks Adria! It’s a lovely village and Gloria was a fab host. If you’re visiting Tuscany, do pay her a visit and say ‘Hi’ for me.


  4. Adria 17/05/2011 9:02 pm

    How beautiful! I especially like the photo you took of the home near the centre of Civitella Marittima, it looks like it could have been taken right out of a storybook. Love it!

  5. velvet 09/04/2011 11:00 am

    Hi Linda,
    I know what you mean. However, most visitors tend to focus on a small number of areas (Florence, Sienna, San Gimignano, etc…). There are so many places in Tuscany that beg to be discovered. It’s certainly one of my favourite holiday destinations.

    Thanks for your comment.


  6. Linda 09/04/2011 10:57 am

    What a lovely post. I often reject the idea of Tuscany because “everyone goes there”……and I really should know better, living where I do! You make it come alive, and I’m moving it right up my list!

  7. velvet 20/11/2010 12:08 pm

    Me too! I’m a big fan of Tuscany. So much to see and do…. and to eat and drink! 🙂


  8. Sarah Wu 20/11/2010 12:05 pm

    I miss Tuscany already!! I was in Tuscany back in October

  9. Susan J. Smith 02/11/2010 6:15 pm

    I visited this little town years ago. It is every bit as charming as this blogger describes. Well worth checking out.

    For another charming place to visit in Italy, check out DesignDestinations.wordpress.com

    I recommend Cinque Terre. It has more tourists but is remote and gorgeous and well worth visiting. Hard to get to though. Gotta be a brave driver.

  10. velvet 13/10/2010 4:01 pm

    Thanks David. Can’t believe you turned down a trip to Tuscany! LOL! 🙂 I’m sure another opportunity is just around the corner.


  11. David @ Malaysia Asia 13/10/2010 3:59 pm

    Nice write on Tuscany Keith! Know what? I missed my Tuscany trip early this year as it was too long, 3 weeks in Tuscany at a private villa on a hill overlooking one of the vineyards! I really wanted to go but work got in the way. So now I’m waiting for me next Tuscany calling 🙂


  12. Andi 13/10/2010 1:29 pm

    Oh wow, what a quaint city! Lovely pics 🙂

  13. velvet 13/10/2010 12:47 pm

    Hi Marsha,
    Thanks for your lovely comment. Your description of Tuscany is spot on! 🙂


  14. Marsha 13/10/2010 12:14 pm

    How utterly charming! I’ve always wanted to visit Tuscany and your post gives me simply yet another good reason to go. Easy on the eyes, delightful to the palette, and it just feels like it’s good for your soul. Lovely.

  15. velvet 13/10/2010 11:24 am

    Thank you for your comment Barbara. Really happy you like this post.
    I love Tuscany!


  16. Barbara 13/10/2010 11:13 am

    Really charming description of Civitella Marittima! I wish I could spend a week there too! I love the peace of these small towns…. (in fact I live in a small town in Tuscany!)

    Thanks for sharing ti with us!



  17. Eurotrip Tips 13/10/2010 2:37 am

    It seems like time and technology skipped this place. Must be refreshing! Pretty photos.

  18. Andrew 12/10/2010 10:14 pm

    Nice find – it’s great to find little places like this where you can taste local life!

  19. Richard 12/10/2010 8:04 pm

    Beautiful village! A wonderful descriptive writing and inviting photos!

  20. Gloria 12/10/2010 7:41 pm

    Thank you so very much, Keith! It was a pleasure to finally meet you in person and to get to spend some time with you! I hope you’ll be back some time!


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