April 16, 2011

Home on the Range- Maremma

I had a couple of days off and my husband worked so hard moving me while I was in America, I wanted us to have a little get-away. The weather had finally cleared up and spring was in full bloom, so we decided to head for the beach.

How to choose which beach? We could head up towards the Cinque Terre (stopping on the coast nearby) or Viareggio, off season I adore the art deco boardwalk. Instead we decided to head south from Siena to Maremma, the "wilder" coast where Tuscan cowboys roam.

 Maremmana Cattle out of the range

Maremma has a huge park, Parco dell'Uccellina, which we had not visited in ages. All I really wanted to do was to breathe the clean air at the sea and eat some fish.

I spend a lot of time planning trips for others- for myself we just winged it.
We avoid taking the major highways so it takes us a longer time to get anywhere, but we enjoy the scenery and small towns we discover on the way.

We chose Alberese as a destination and saw there was a Marina di Alberese, the port,which I thought sounded like a great place to stay.

Little did we know that the "Marina" was in a national park! We discovered our mistake as the sun was setting so headed to the village of Alberese, which was practically a ghost town this early in the season and not on a weekend. We were lucky enough to meet a woman there with a agritourismo, working farm with apartments for rent. The apartment had a small kitchen and would be great for a longer stay.

After settling in, she suggested a local fish restaurant near by and off we went.

fresh anchovies, two ways

pici pasta with cuttlefish and wild asparagus

papparedelle with artichokes and prawns

roasted fish "in cartoccio" with juniper, myrtle and shellfish

cooked whole, served boned

coffee bavarese- extremely light

Agritourismo Timavo

Restaurant "Da Remo"

Before we left Alberese, we stopped by the local shop to bring home some of the products from the local farms. We bought meat from the cattle pictured above, cheese and some cookies made with rice flour.

The farmlands of Maremma were created by Mussolini, who drained the swamps and brought in share-croppers to work the land. Alberese was farmed mostly by people from Veneto. To receive a farm, one had to have had 4 men in the family. After share-cropping for years, they were allowed to take possession of the farms, paying rent for 30 years. It was fascinating to speak to the locals, who still have their Venetian accents.  Our landlady's mother showed us old family foto's and told stories of her childhood there.

Every trip is a piece of history.

Right now I have two pots on the stove, one with a pot roast with the flavors of the plants from the Maremma countryside, wild myrtle and bay leaves with some rosemary and juniper berries.

Tuscan Stracotti- Pot Roast, with myrtle, juniper berries and bay leaves

The other stew meat I am preparing as a Peposa, cooked in red wine with black pepper and garlic. That will be dinner. Tomato sauce was not used in cooking until around 1650, after the New World was discovered, so am only using wine.

Here is a little slide show of what we saw:


  1. I plan on visiting Cinque Terre or thereabouts in September. Have noted the National Park and inviting food!

  2. Claudia-- I did not go to the Cinque Terre-- but instead to southern Tuscany- an area called Maremma.

  3. Dear Judy,
    i've been following your blog for a few months and I really enjoy it!
    i'm originally from Grosseto, but I'm living in London at the moment. I'm really glad you had a good time (and good food) in Alberese.
    Sometimes reading your blog makes me a bit homesick, as I really miss Tuscan food. Looking at your pictures and reading your recipes takes me back to my childhood, when my dad used to cook lovely meals for us, using produce from the local market.
    Luckily I'm going to go home for Easter next week and I'm really looking forward to eating asparagus and some fresh fish!
    I'd like to recommend a restaurant between Grosseto and Principina (on the Trappola road), called "Gli Attortellati". It's run by a local family and all the food comes from their farm. It's all seasonal and home-made. I'm sure you would enjoy it.
    Keep up with the good work and thank you for all the lovely recipes and pictures!

  4. There is something wonderful about getting away, even if just for a couple of days. Especially if you wing it. It always makes me nervous, but it almost always pays off, wouldn't you agree? My goal for the summer is to go on as many spontaneous day trips to places in my area as possible. Hopefully my trips turn out to be as fun as your trip was!

  5. I loved the slides.. what a beautiful place to visit. The sign warning cars not to drive into the water was funny too.

    Food looks simple yet divine.

  6. All that food looks amazing!

  7. Those sardines or pesce al cartoccio are to die for. Can't get any better than some cucina rustica around endless agriturismo !