A Week on the Beach in Follonica: Tips on How to Have a Fabulous Family Vacation at the Tuscan Seaside
This past July my husband and I took our two boys to the beach in Follonica (southern Tuscany in Maremma) for a week. If you know anything about summers in Italy then you know that going to the sea is almost a requirement. Even doctors recommend it to their patients with allergies and chronic coughs. Il mare fa bene (the sea if good for you), they mean that in every sense too: for health, relaxation, play, and spending time with family. Many families have beach houses or rental houses for the entire summer season, once school is out they go to the sea and come back just a few days before it starts back in September. Bella Vita right? Growing up in Houston my family would go to the beach about once a year and just for the day down to Galveston; we had a great time but a day was about all I needed to get il mare out of my system. Since living in Italy, and being surrounded by beautiful coastlines on 3 sides, it is almost impossible not to fall in love with going to beach and feel that calling to the sea every summer. I decided to write this post as a helpful guide for families that want to vacation on the beach in Tuscany, focusing on Follonica and the surrounding beaches.
The Tuscan coastline is 397 kilometers long, not counting the islands of Elba and Giglio. The entire coastline is filled with beach goers throughout the summer months. I did a lot of research on different beaches in Tuscany before choosing Follonica. I have 2 young children and so I wanted a beach that would be extremely kid friendly. I also wanted to stay in a place that was within walking distance of the beach. A lot of hotels and rental apartments in sea towns are not directly located on the beach so keep that in mind before deciding on a hotel or apartment rental. We stayed at La Residenza del Golfo and it was absolutely perfect for our family. They are fully furnished apartments you can rent on a weekly basis with a private access to the beach which is less than 50 meters away. There were outdoor showers as well which was a life saver because there is nothing worse then tracking in tons of sand into your house after a day at the beach The apartment we had was on the bottom floor and had a small yard as well. My boys were very content to be able to be outside almost all day and I felt good about letting them play because the entire structure is fenced in. Most of the beaches around Follonica are public which means you can set up your umbrella and towels anywhere you choose along the sea. This is unlike many other beaches in Tuscany which require you to rent an umbrella and chairs for the day at one of the many bagni or beach clubs. That can make a week at the beach rather expensive as rentals run from 20 to 50 euro a day depending on where you are. Another plus to this area is that the water is VERY shallow (basically only knee-deep) for a good 100 meters out. I felt so safe letting my boys play in the water without me next to them or having floats on. It was so relaxing to sit under the umbrella with my husband while we watched the boys play in the water and build sand castles.
Follonica is a great city for families too. It is a largest enough town so it has all the comforts of a bigger city: supermarkets, parks, restaurants, shopping, etc but does not have the overwhelming traffic and craze of the big city. This part of the coast has a lot of biking trails too which connect you to various other beaches and small towns. You can rent bikes in Follonica here. Every afternoon we would go into to town and play at the park in the Pineta which is an area along the coast covered with tall pine trees. It made the perfect escape during the hot hours of the day. My kids had a blast running and playing hide and seek in the trees. Follonica is also very close to other famous beaches and beach towns in Southern Tuscany. Punta Ala and Castiglione della Pescaia, about 16 kilometers away are must sees. Castiglione della Pescaia is one of the most characteristic medieval villages I have ever been to, the cobblestone streets and ancient fortress take you on a journey back in time. The view from the top of the fortress is breathtaking.
Cala Violina is another very famous beach about 10 minutes away. It was voted the prettiest beach in Tuscany for several years in a row. The water is crystal clear and so refreshingly cool. It is not for families with small children though as you have to park your car about 1 kilometer away and walk through the Scarlino natural reserve which is somewhat rugged terrain and definitely not stroller friendly. Angelo and I would go every summer before we had children. We hope to take them in a few years once they get a little older.
My family and I had a really great 7 day vacation here and we hope to return next year. The end this post I will offer a few tips I have if you are wanting to plan a trip to the beach in Tuscany:
1. Try and avoid going during the month of August. If you aren’t aware, August is the official vacation month for Italians. They are all at the beach and it gets extremely overcrowded and prices pretty much double during this month. In my opinion, the best times to go are end of June, July, and the first part of September.
2. If you are traveling with small children, stay within walking distance of the beach. It really makes it so much more relaxing to not have to get in the car, find parking, etc in order to go to the beach. This way you can come and go whenever you want.
3. Don’t bring a bunch of sand toys and floats. Don’t waste precious luggage space bringing toys, just buy them when you get here. There are hundreds of shops selling toys, and any flotation device you could imagine.
4. If you rent an apartment make sure to clarify what is included (sheets, towels, etc). Often beach rental properties do no provide these things.
If you and your family want help planning the perfect Tuscan beach vacation please don’t hesitate to contact me! Read about my travel consultation service here.