Sights and activities

Maremma

is the name of the region on whose hilly rim Riparbella lies. The Maremma itself is the area of drained marshes on the plain, now under intensive cultivation for fruit, vegetables and cereal crops. The Maremma also embraces the Colline Metallifere, literally the hills with metal seams. Over centuries ore was mined in this area. Since the last mines between Massa and Siena were closed, these wooded hills have become a touch of solitude.

Massa Marittima

Just 5 km from Riparbella lies one of the historic centres of the Maremma: Massa Marittima, with 9000 inhabitants. The Romanesque cathedral and palazzi of travertine stone lining the cathedral square testify to the town’s past wealth. “La Piazza”, as it is known, is the heart of the town and focus of the evening “passeggiata”, the ritual “see and be seen”. Open-air concerts are held here in summer.

Swimming

Try the fabulous Lago dell’Accesa! Located 5 km, this lake fed by springs is a conservation area.

The nearest sea beach is Follonica. Other beaches and coves include Civinini, Cala Violina and Baratti Bay. The thermal springs feeding a natural swimming pool at Venturina are also worth a visit.

Cycling

is popular in the Maremma. Up and down the forest tracks and uncrowded lanes: there’s limitless scope for easy touring and more challenging routes. Good bikes are available for hire not far from Riparbella.

Rambling

Stroll through the oak woods, follow the hunters’ trails, admire the varied flora, enjoying trees and flowers. Collect herbs, hunt for mushrooms, watch a tortoise… The typical southern, partly evergreen vegetation makes rambling a special experience in winter too.

Excursions

By bus or in your own car: the nearest bus-stop is 10 minutes’ walk from Riparbella. Buses serve the line to Massa from the “Pian di Mucini” stop. There’s also one daily service to Siena and back. Cars can be hired in Follonica to reach destinations not accessible by bus. There are many Etruscan archaeological sites and the famous medieval cities of Siena, San Gimignano and Volterra. Then there are a host of charming smaller places to discover: Populonia, Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci on the coast; Roccatederighi, Montemassi and Chiusdino in the hinterland.

The Rotunda at Montesiepi

This fascinating piece of Romanesque architecture is not far from us. In 1182 the knight Galgano ran his sword into a rock in token of his renunciation of violence by divine command. Then, guided by a dream, he began to erect a building around this sword. The round church conceals astronomical and astrological secrets, including the mathematical regularity of an astronomical calendar with unique solar phenomena.
Next door stands the romantic ruin of the Cistercian abbey church, fairly intact apart from the missing roof (see Paul O. Pfister’s book, “Die Rotunde vom Montesiepi”, published by Im Waldgut, 2000. ISBN 3-7294-0293-5).

Conservation areas

The “Parco dell’Uccellina” is the Maremma’s largest natural park, protecting the unspoiled coastline some 100 km to the south. This is a beautiful area for rambles and safaris in search of rare plants. Then there’s the “Diaccia di Botrona” near Castiglione della Pescaia (30 km to the south), a protected swamp landscape and an El Dorado for birdwatchers.

Gardens

The “Giardino dei Tarocchi” created by Niki de Saint Phalle is located south of Grosseto. With its giant, gleaming coloured tarot figures, this makes a favourite excursion for grown-ups and children alike.

Then Swiss-born Daniel Spoerri has laid out a park on an artistic theme at Seggiano near Arcidosso. There are over 40 sculptures by different artists and a “wall-walk maze” extending for 700 metres.