EAT, STRAY, LOVE: Italy, Tuscany, and the Maremma

With the release of another popular film set in Italy, people worldwide know of the country’s most luscious region: Tuscany. But few realize the Mediterranean Sea skims along the classic wine and olive region, and combines sensational flavors with unforgettable views.

Here, find three ways to enhance the Italian culinary adventure and traveler’s delight, in the unforgettable Maremma region, nestled into the southern coastline of renowned Tuscany.

In Italy, it is impossible to miss the food and drink. Even the least-interested traveler can find a meal to please. But for the food-lover, Tuscany’s southwestern Maremma region borders the Mediterranean Sea and offers wine and olives with an additional alluring treat: fresh seafood.

What to do: Seek out a local olive oil producer (in Canino) and wine producer (Montepulciano and Chianti among others), and venture along the Mediterranean coast, where the blue Sea washes up to greet the Tuscan hills. Stop at one of the coastal restaurants to enjoy the unspoiled coast and its culinary treasures.

What to try: the excellent local Maremma wine, Morellino di Scansano, a local seafood and pasta specialty, spaghetti allo scoglio, accompanied by the local sheep cheese called pecorino.

With cities like Siena, and Florence, and Pisa, Tuscany has its legs rooted in the artistic Renaissance. But venture off the worn path a bit, and you’ll discover the colors of the countryside, the irresistible wandering landscape striped with vineyards, checkered with olive groves, and punctuated with ruins dipped in history.

What to do: Visit the ancient Etruscan ruins in Etruria or Pecorino, or stop at one of the many castle ruins or fortress towns located high on the hills.

What to try: If in Sovano, touring Città del Tufo, plan to eat at nearby La Taverna Etrusca, for its romance and excellent food. The smiles and dialogue in Italian as the owner brings out each savory dish is most memorable.

In Tuscany, every road leads through vast fields of grazing sheep or cattle, or cultivated with olive groves and vineyards. The colors and lines as they play across the landscape mesmerize with unsurpassed beauty. This richness of experience, the slower pace of life found in enjoying the simple pleasures, like a glass of wine or a good coffee … this is the Italy that does not leave even after the traveling is over. Long after the bottles of wine and olive oil have run dry, the irresistible flavors of Tuscany linger, and lure the traveler back again.

What to do: Stay in an Agriturismo villa, for an authentic stay in Tuscany.

This traveler will be returning to Tuscany’s Maremma in autumn, for the olive harvest. My family and I can’t wait to venture back into Italy for another refreshing week savoring the flavors and walking the coast and countryside.

Jennifer Lyn King, a native Texan, lives in the Czech Republic, where she writes from her home near Prague. She is the author of The One Year Mini for Busy Women. Read her blog on Red Room. All the photos above are copyright Jennifer Lyn King.