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Eating & Sleeping in the Maremma

A view of the Maremma from Vetulonia
The early autumn view south-east from Vetulonia towards Grosseto

Zuccherini farmhouse

The first half of October is the ideal time of year to visit the Maremma with warm days, cool evenings, very few tourists and the rainy season still a little way off in this part of Tuscany. Even in those years when the November rain arrives a few weeks early in the Apennines and Lucca turns cool and wet, the Maremma is invariably still sunny and dry so this is where summer lingers the longest.

The Zuccherini farmhouse in the Maremma

For our autumn escape last year there were four of us so it was an opportunity to find somewhere different to stay. The Zuccherini farmhouse was the perfect place and our host David couldn’t have been more helpful. His family have been Maremma farmers for more than a century and have converted three of their farmhouses into holiday apartments.

Zuccherini farmhouse in the Maremma
A peaceful place to enjoy the last few days of summer

The renovations have been done very tastefully and, while not lacking in modern conveniences, they have kept faith with Tuscan traditions so you can expect terracotta floors, exposed wooden beams and various items of original furniture. Zuccherini is a robust country house so nothing is overly fussy or cluttered and it’s easy to relax and feel at home.

The kitchen is well stocked with everything you need and as we normally do on a weekend getaway we cook one evening (Involtini di pollo alla Siciliana on this occasion) and eat out the next.

In addition there is a lovely terrace outside both for eating and relaxing and a couple of hammocks slung in the shade next to fruit trees.

The grounds are naturally attractive rather than overly curated with lemon, olive and eucalyptus trees reflecting the very benign climate of the Maremma. There is also a swimming pool tucked away at the end of the garden which I’m sure gets plenty of use in the very hot summer months.

The Zuccherini farmhouse in the Maremma

I forgot to ask David about their choice of name for this farmhouse but it seems likely that it's derived from the famous Zuccherino di Maremma, which is a hard doughnut shaped biscuit that originated in the Casentino and arrived in the Maremma during the days of the Tuscan transumanza which lasted from the Middle Ages to WW2.

The transumanza was a huge seasonal event and data survives from 1590 showing that in September of that year the move involved 76,912 sheep and goats leaving the Casentino, divided in 214 flocks, guarded by 700 people and defended by around 400 dogs with a further 1100 mules and pack horses used to transport everything that was necessary to sustain life in this previously barren malarial zone.

Buriano in the Maremma
The village of Buriano perched above Zuccherini

Zuccherini is located just below the village of Buriano where the coastal Maremma hills give way to the Grosseto plain through which the flood prone Ombrone river empties into the Tyrrhenian sea. It’s a short drive to Castiglione della Pescaia and not very far also to the southern Maremma towns of Talamone and Magliano in Toscana.

Le Guazze Bone Cottage for Two, Vetulonia

Le Guazze Bone cottage in the Maremma
Le Guazze Bone cottage

Zuccherini is also only five minutes away from Vetulonia and while writing this I was reminded of another early October visit to the Maremma four years ago when we enjoyed a weekend stay at Sonia’s cottage for 2 people at Le Guazze Bone.

The outside kitchen at Le Guazze Bone
The outside kitchen at Le Guazze Bone

It’s a very different type of place that we enjoyed enormously, especially the outside kitchen and the magnificent views east all the way to Monte Amiata and west to the sea. This is a place we’ll return to on a future occasion when there are only two of us.

Vetulonia is a little higher up the hill than Buriano and has a fun bar, Il Ritrovo di Bes, that has always been full of locals with a great atmosphere whenever we’ve been staying in or around Vetulonia and the same held true on our most recent visit a few months ago.

Osteria La Gricia, Caldana

In this article we’ve given you a choice of two places to stay depending on how many there are in your party, but whichever one you pick our best suggestion for a nearby restaurant is Osteria La Gricia in Caldana, a 15 minute drive away.

Osteria La Gricia in Caldana
Osteria La Gricia in Caldana

We’ve eaten here several times over the years and have never been disappointed. The long time owner is from Rome, hence the name La Gricia from the famous Roman primo piatto, and his wife is a Tuscan from Florence. The location of Caldana is almost exactly half way between their respective home towns so a perfect compromise perhaps.

As there were four of us we ordered the antipasto of various spreads/paté (left photo) and of course the gricia (middle photo). Gricia should be an easy dish to get right but chefs often overcomplicate it or leave to0 much solid fat on the guanciale instead of rendering it. I'm happy to report that the signature dish here was excellent as was the grilled lamb (right photo).

The owner has an engaging personality and as the restaurant was fairly quiet on a Sunday evening we had a long and interesting chat about the availability and price of Chianina cattle these days and how Italian restaurants source their high quality beef.

La Gricia restaurant, Caldana
Bidding our farewell to the owner and his chef as the last guests to leave

Eating and sleeping in the Maremma is the latest in a series of similar articles covering Valpolicella, Bobbio, Umbria, northern Abruzzo and the Maiella.


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