Maremma: Inland hills

Campagnatico – Photo © Thomas Nephew
Campagnatico – Photo © Thomas Nephew

Campagnatico

Campagnatico is a typical Medieval town, both in its urban structure and in its strategic position. It stands on a rise, planted with olive trees, that in the east drops off sharply over the Ombrone Valley.

The ancient castle belonged to the Aldobrandeschi family of Sovano and was mentioned in Canto XI of Dante’s Purgatory. The castle subsequently passed into the hands of the Tolomei who were especially keen on controlling this fertile land.

Along with the rest of the Maremma, Campagnatico suffered greatly as the result of various wars and calamities. However, it returned to prosperity under the rule of the Grand duke Leopold II when he reclaimed the marsh land.

The entire area is abundant in Mediterranean scrub and the rolling hills are planted in vineyards and olive groves that yield excellent wine and oil.

Today Campagnatico is the principal town in a wide area that includes not only the charming Medieval town of Montorsaio, but numerous villages that keep local traditions alive by staging fairs, celebrations of their patron saints and pageants. Among these festivities is the Palio dei Ciuchi (Donkey Race) which is held in Campagnatico every year in mid September.

Near Cinigiano - Photo  Dimit®i
Near Cinigiano – Photo Dimit®i

Cinigiano is a charming agricultural town on one of the sloping hills descending from Monte Amiata. This fortunate geographical position provides the best of the Maremma’s inland hillly landscape.

Originally a fief of the Aldobrandeschi family, it was dominated by Siena in 1381 and then by the Battifolle Counts. The Clock Tower, restored in the middle of the 19th century, and the remains of a Medieval fortress are all that remain of the old town.

The zone is valued for its forests, natural pastures, vast areas suited for agriculture, Chestnut groves, all within a general mix of Mediterranean scrub, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees that stretch from the mountain to the bed of the Ombrone.

The result is a wide sampling of products to be enjoyed during during the numerous fairs and local events. The produce ranges from grain to grapes, from olives to chestnuts.

The Nature Reserve, “Poggio all’ Olmo”, provides a chance for enjoyable outings within the area. There are other characteristic towns nearby that are worth a vist: Porrona, with its castle, parish church and intact noble villas; Monticello Amiato with its Medieval structures and museum of local traditions; Sasso d’Ombrone, whose original name is Sasso di Maremma, and from which the bridge over the Ombrone river gets its name; Colle Massari, noteable for both its architecture and landscape; and the Aldobrandeschi fortresses such as Castiglioncello Bandini, Vicarello, Poggio del Sasso and Santa Rita.

Civitella Marittima - Photo  knut_guenther
Civitella Marittima – Photo knut_guenther

Civitella Marittima

Civitella Marittima, the principal town of Civitella Paganico, stands on a hill covered in cypress and olive trees and commands a view of the Maremma plain and the Tyrrenian coastline.

It was the seat of the Aldobrandeschi family who left an important heritage of Romanesque architecture such as the Badia of San Lorenzo on the Lanzo, or Badia Ardenghesca. Along with Paganico, the town fell under the dominion of the Sienese at the beginning of the 14th century.

It is located where the Ombrone river loops in its descent from the Sienese hills toward the Maremma plain.

Paganico is known for its kaolinite quarries, but is more interesting for its artistic and monumental heritage.

The gates to the town wall (Senese, Gorella, Grossetana), the 14th and 15th century brick houses with their porticos, the remains of the town wall, the church of San Michele Arcangelo and the carefully planned urban structure all serve to enhance this charming town.

Both the ancient spa, “Bagni di Petriolo”, dating from 1230 and still in operation, and the Nature Reserve of the Basso Merse are worth a visit.
Text courtesy of APT Maremma