All you need to know to plan a visit to the Etruscan Coast, Tuscany’s stunning coastal region – updated 2020
It is no secret that I am in love with Tuscany.
Its cities, its beautiful coastline, its people make this make it one of the best places to see in Italy and a destination I always recommend to new and returning visitors.
International tourism discovered Tuscany many years ago, however, most visitors flock to Florence and Val d’Orcia and miss an area that is as beautiful: the Etruscan Coast.
The Etruscan Coast is a lovely stretch of coast and a wonderful place to go if you are visiting Tuscany with kids or if tou want to recharge on sandy beaches and visiting pretty hilltop village.
This is exactly what we did. This is our guide to the Etruscan Coast, Costa delgi Etruschi, Tuscany, Italy.
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The Etruscan Coast, Tuscany: where it is
The Etruscan Coast is a stretch of Tuscany that goes from the town of Piombino, its Southernmost point, to the city of Livorno, about 70 km farther North.
As its name suggests, this area of Italy is where the Etruscan civilization flourished between the IX and the VI century a.C. and still retains important and beautiful vestiges of these mysterious and fascinating people.
Many Etruscan necropolis can be visited in this area and the gorgeous ancient town of Populonia, perched on a hill overlooking the Baratti coast, is the only example of the Etruscan coastal town and an archaeological site of incommensurate values.
How to get to the Etruscan Coast
The best way to explore the Etruscan Coast is by car.
This is the best way to move between the coast and the inland attractions of this area and the only mean of transport that will allow you to cmfortably choose accommodation in local agriturismo/contry homes, lovely in this area.
You can find my guide to driving in Italy here.
Some of the towns along the coast are also connected by regional trains. These can be a good option for a more stantial vacation.
You can find my tips for using the trains in Italy here.
The best places to visit on the Etruscan Coast
Carbonifera, Golfo di Baratti and San Vincenzo
The star of the show in the Etruscan Coast is the sea.
Here you have lovely sandy beaches and also smaller rocky beaches, perfect for people looking for more secluded locations.
San Vincenzo and Rimigliano have incredible, almost white-colored beaches of soft, inviting sand, while the stunning Golfo di Baratti has a peculiar, darker colored sand, rich with the same iron component that made the wealth of the Etruscan civilization.
Carbonifera and Torre Mozza also have long stretches of soft sand and pleasant shallow waters that make this area perfect especially for families.
Top tip for families with children: while white sandy beaches might sound more appealing, the iron on the Baratti coast is a source of endless entertainment for younger kids.If you bring with you a small magnet and a cup, the kids will be able to lift teeny-tiny grains of iron-rich sand which will create incredible shapes in their hands!
If you prefer a more rocky coast, head to beautiful Castiglioncello and opt for the beach at Quercetano or the rockier yet glamorous Bagni Miramare.
Suvereto: gorgeous medieval town
Suvereto is the first village we explored in the area and one we loved.
It has an imposing, now ruined castle that can be visited with a short climb and is a lovely town for an evening meal.
The village is made of small, cobbled streets climbing up a steep hill and is full of restaurants, watering holes and ice cream shops.
Despite this, it has an authentic feel to it and, in the evening, has a very pleasant local atmosphere.
Tip for foodies: I’Ciocio and La Loggia in Suvereto were our favorite places for dinner, serving local, delicious food in atmospheric surroundings (in summer, stay in the outdoor terrace)
Bolgheri: medieval town for poetry lovers
Another gorgeous little village that you can easily reach from the coast is Bolgheri (pronounced with an accent on the first ‘o’).
This is a tiny medieval town located on top of a small hill just inland from the main coastal road and it is famous for a couple of reasons.
Lovers of Italian poetry might remember it from a famous lyric by Carducci, the Nobel poet who grew up here, and lovers of wine might remember this name from some world renowned bottles of Vino di Bolgheri (Bolgheri wine).
Bolgheri is gorgeous and well worth a visit: when driving up from the coast, note the impressive cypress trees framing the road and then park the car at the parking just outside the village.
To reach the main gate, you will have to walk uphill for a couple of minutes but the reward is worth it.
The village is lovely and local wine bars and restaurants will make all tiredness disappear!
Tip for gelato lovers and families with kids: the ice cream shop at the top of the main road is delicious, especially if you choose the house specials (the name is, I believe, ‘La posta’ or ‘bar della posta’: unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo and can’t be sure of the exact name)
Another lovely hilltop village in the area is pretty Sassetta.
Off the beaten track, this is a small yet charming village surrounded by lovely forests and a great place to get a taste of the most authentic Italy and Tuscan hospitality.
Worth seeking out are the local thermal waters that pop out of the ground in this locality at 50 degrees!
Baratti and Populonia Archaeological park
This area is famous for having been the home to the mysterious Etruscan civilization and it is a wonderful place to learn about it and see, in situ, some of its most impressive ruins.
The place to do it is the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia: the park is wonderful and a great place to spend an afternoon between ancient ruins and beautiful nature.
Top tip: avoid visiting at the height of summer as the sun here is relentless!
Tuscan Food: what to eat on the Etruscan coast
Tuscany has some of the best if not the best food in Italy.
Its flavours are simple but rich, the ingredients are local and bursting with freshness and the local wine to wash your meal down is delicious.
Food to try in the Etruscan Coast are:
- Local low-sal bread (pane toscano or pane senza sale), dipped in loval extra virgin olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar.
- Pasta with Tuscan ragout (local ‘bolognese’)
- Tagliata steak (beef), with arugula and fresh tomatoes
- Palamita (oily fish)
- Local Cured meat and cheese
- Local seafood (ask for catch of the day)
If you like wine, this area is known for the Super Tuscan wines and is sure to leave you satisfied.
The area around Suvereto had award-winning wineries that produce delicacies such as Val di Cornia Rosso DOC e DOCG e Suvereto DOC e DOCG
The Etruscan Coast with kids: family activities and children attractions
Beach and food are all I need to be happy on holiday but if you are more active than this you will be happy to know there are many activities are available on the Etruscan coast for adults and kids.
Local accommodation providers and independent organisations offer the opportunity to rent bikes, learn how to surf, sail or ride horses and you can choose paths and equipment to suit all levels.
Our kids adored the popular theme park in the area ‘Il cavallino matto‘.
Located in Donoratico, on the coast, the park is perfect for an afternoon out and has rides to suit most ages.
My kids had their very first go at a rollercoaster here and had a ball, while my stomach wasn’t quite as happy as theirs!
The best places to visit near the Etruscan Coast, Tuscany
If local attractions are not enough to entice you, the Etruscan coast is also a fantastic base to visit the rest of Tuscany and see some of the most charming villages in Italy.
To give you an idea of possible day trips, here are some suggestions:
Siena and Lucca are among the best places to see in Italy and are all less than 80 km away, making them a perfect destination for a day trip.
World famous Pisa is also nearby and can be visited as a day trip, as described here
Florence and its magnificent art is less than 100 km away, connected to this area by a large, well-kept road and if you want more sea, you can head over to the Elba island, connected to the mainland by regular ferries.
Where to stay in the Etruscan Coast
The best places to stay to explore the Etruscan Coast are:
- Agriturismo Campo di Carlo, Sassetta, lovely hilltop agriturismo with pool. Read our review here.
- Agricamping Podere Pianetti, small RV campsite with easy access to the beach
- EcoRespot Paradu, beautiful campsite with kids activities and an all-inclusive option
So, between sea, food, history, activities and relaxation, the Etruscan coast has something for everyone: what would you like to do first?