The Etruscan Coast: why you should visit this fabulous stretch of Tuscany’s coastlines

View of Etruscano Coast Tuscany from Bolgheri

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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Photo of hilltop town Sassetta and coast town Castiglioncello with overlay text 'Tuscany's Etruscan Coast travel guide'

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!

Tuscany coast best beach: carbonifera
If I were to choose one, among the many fabulous beaches in Tuscany, I would probably choose ‘Carbonifera’ and more precisely, the stretch of it called ‘Il pino’. This is a lovely locality with a long sandy beach, shallow and clean waters and a lovely beach shack serving very nice hot and cold food – what’s not to love?

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.

The external wall of the castel of Suvereto, built in local rock
The external wall of the castle of Suvereto, in ruins but still imposing and full of Medieval charm

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’).

The tower in Bolgheri, with its characteristic red bricks
When you arrive in Bolgheri you immediately see the red brick tower of its caslte, still overlooking the town

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)

A small shop in Bolgheri with a beautiful display or bottles of wine and pasta packets outside
Bolgheri is full of little shops selling the local Bolgheri wine, pasta and local produce. While not overly touristy, Bolgheri is known by international travellers and it is not unusual to see signs in English as well as Italian

Sassetta

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

this is me at dinner in Tuscany, expectantly waiting for my dinner
One of my favourite moments of any holiday: sitting at a table, outdoors, waiting for a delicious meal

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 organizations 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!

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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:

So, between sea, food, history, activities and relaxation, the Etruscan coast has something for everyone: what would you like to do first?

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8 thoughts on “The Etruscan Coast: why you should visit this fabulous stretch of Tuscany’s coastlines

  1. Jennifer St Louis says:

    We never made it to the Tuscan coast on our trip around Italy. Your beautiful post has me itching to go. The beaches look perfect and Italy is one of my favorite places to eat!

  2. Julie says:

    Great tips! Looks like the kids had a great time! I would love to go to the Tuscan coast next time we go to Italy!

  3. Christina says:

    Oh, take me back to Italy! What a great looking vacation. The Etruscan Coast sounds like the place to be. I can tell the theme park will be a hit with our kids as well.

  4. Rob Taylor says:

    It’s my favorite area of Italy as well. I love the mix of water and history, relaxation and architecture. There is a lot of great art on the Etruscan coast too….

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