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The Italian seaside village of Talamone is off the tourist track

June 17, 2017

Long a top vacation destination, Italy seduces millions of foreign travelers each year with its intoxicating mix of cuisine and culture. But outside the frenetic tourist draws of Florence, Venice and Rome, much of Italy waits to be uncorked by American visitors.
While popular with Europeans looking for ocean-side, sun-splashed getaways, the coastal region of southern Tuscany remains relatively untouched by many U.S. tourists.
Although just outside the tourist trail between Rome and Florence, it’s worth the extra effort to get here.
You’ll trade busy cities, crowded restaurants and long museum lines for quiet towns, elegant meals and dramatic landscapes. Bring a map, some patience and a basic understanding of Italian. You’ll go far.
The coastal stretch of southern Tuscany, called Maremma, is a place where rolling green hills rise from vast sunflower fields, hiking trails wind through dense olive groves and rocky coastlines drop into the cobalt blue sea. Medieval enclaves dot the countryside.
Among them is Talamone, a seaside village of terracotta roofs, narrow streets and a small harbor about a three-hour train ride north from Rome’s Termini rail station.
Talamone dates back more than 2,000 years and the town’s fortified structure made it an important stop in the Middle Ages for warring tribes and military expeditions. The towering ruins of the Aldobrandeschi fortress stand atop a hillside overlooking the village. Today, Talamone is quiet for much of the year but comes to life with European visitors in the summer.
The village is dotted with seafood osterias. In the town’s center, a stone church fronts a quiet piazza. Residents spend afternoons lounging on their porches. Swimmers are attracted to the crystal waters, and nearby beaches are popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers.
About 20 miles south of Talamone lies Porto Santo Stefano, a postcard-ready seaside town where you can catch a ferry to the Giglio, the island that achieved international fame for being the site of the 2012 Costa Concordia wreck. The island’s main annual draw is a week-long festival every September dedicated to the island’s patron saint, Maximilian.
Promotional efforts have been launched by tour groups and local business owners to entice more visitors, said Emanuela Boni, spokeswoman for the National Italian Tourist Board in Los Angeles. They appear to be working.
“Travelers from the U.S. choose to visit Italy for its art and culture, food and wine, rather than as a seaside destination,” she added.
Overall, bookings to Italy from the U.S. are on the rise thanks, in part, to the strong dollar. Spending in Italy by U.S. tourists has climbed about 3 percent each year since 2010, according to the National Italian Tourist Board.
And it’s not just the strong dollar. The Tuscan region offers a reliable, relaxing vacation spot for visitors looking to get outside major cities and tourists centers.
“Tuscany always comes through with great food, great scenery and great service,” said Carol McConnell, a travel agent for Around the Globe Travel in Huntington Beach who specializes in Italy. “The people are warm and friendly. They love Americans who come to visit.”
Still, the seaside escapes of Tuscany can get crowded, especially in August when other Europeans are on their annual vacations. McConnell advised travelling to the region in the Fall.
“The best time to go is September — it’s still warm a lot of the crowds have gone,” McConnell said.

Talamone
Talamone is a small seaside village enclosed by medieval walls on the Tuscan coast about halfway between Rome and Florence. Nearby towns include Orbetello and Grossetto.
Get there
By rail:
If you fly into Rome, grab a train north toward Pisa from Termini station. There are up to three trains a day that stop at Talamone station. Trains stop each hour at the station in Albinia, which is about 10 kilometers outside of Talamone. Regular bus service is available between Albinia and Talamone.

If you drive:
Most town centers in Italy are restricted traffic areas, accessible only to motor vehicles of residents in the specific area. This is to contain traffic congestion and pollution as well as limit damage to monuments and historic buildings. For more information, visitors can refer to the websites of both the U.S. State Department: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/italy.html and U.S. Embassies and Consulates: https://it.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/transportation-driving/?_ga=1.21563186.86862954.1474991758
Stay
Since Talamone is small, accommodations are limited, but there are several hotels, bed and breakfasts and farm stays — farm houses that gives visitors quiet stays deep in the countryside. Agriturismo La Valentina is popular, so is Agriturismo Buratta, which is located in the Maremma Natural Park just north of Talamone and has a restaurant that offers local dishes liked wild boar tagliatelle and roast guinea fowl.
Just south of Talamone sits Talamone Camping Village, a sprawling complex sitting among vineyards and olive groves on a hillside overlooking the sea. The village has a selection of traditional campsites, small cottages and spacious, multi-room, air-conditioned villas with kitchenettes. Talamone Camping Village has access to a wide sandy beach as well as a general store, bar and swimming pool. Excursions and sports activities, like horseback riding, wine tours and outrigger trips are available to guests. The village’s restaurant, Ristorante Panoramico, serves homemade pasta dishes and pizzas that diners can enjoy on a patio overlooking an olive grove with Talamone standing in the distance.
Talamone Camping Village is open from April through the end of September. More information: http://www.talamonecampingvillage.com/en/

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