On Collelungo Beach, nature is the absolute protagonist
A stretch of coastline lapped by a calm, crystal-clear sea sketches three kilometres of golden sand in the heart of the Maremma Park in Tuscany.
On Collelungo Beach, the dunes and Mediterranean maquis paint a landscape of untamed charm.
Peace and silence reign supreme here, in the shadow of the Collelungo Tower that gives its name to the place, an ancient defensive architectural structure.
The privilege of solitude
Collelungo Beach is a favourite for those who aspire to a less crowded place. In the months not in high season it is practically deserted. There are no bathing facilities and no bars or restaurants. It is just you, in the company of nature.
You can walk along the water’s edge, swim in calm and perfectly transparent waters and enjoy the view. To shelter from the sun, you can play at building your own hut out of the reeds around you and the sea-eroded tree trunks strewn about the beach.
Encounters with passing foxes are not uncommon and sometimes you will have unusual neighbours: even herds of cows come to lie down here; they are placid and harmless.
The dune habitat
Behind Collelungo beach lie the dunes, which lend a gentle caress to the eye with their undulating course. Towards the coast they are simply accumulations of sand, while those just behind have micro vegetation typical of these formations.
The dunes have a major impact on the land not only because of their considerable scenic value, but also because of an important function: they protect against flooding by acting as a barrier, they provide shelter from the winds and prevent sand from being carried inland, disturbing other plant species.
They should be viewed with respect, they are a heritage to be safeguarded, one that climate change is threatening. One of Legambiente's programmes is called precisely The Guardians of the Dunes, aimed at their study and preservation. Amidst what may seem like ordinary bushes, you will see the white maritime lily and a few little sea camomile flowers sprouting. You will appreciate the tenacity of the euphorbia seedlings and beach convolvulus.
The coastal tower
The Collelungo Tower is the only building on the beach, a lookout post from which you can admire a long stretch of coastline. It was built by the Sienese during the Renaissance to defend against enemy raids from the sea. It has been remodelled and restored several times over the centuries, and today has a truncated pyramid base, from which three levels extend. Access is from the northern side, through a gate framed by square stones. Climb up and linger over the ancient embrasures, which still exist, and above all enjoy the sweeping view from above.
How to get there: by car, foot or bicycle?
You can travel by car, starting from the Visitor Centre and following the A2 route The Towers of the Maremma Natural Park for about 5.8 kilometres. Otherwise, you can walk from the beach at Marina di Alberese and continue south for a few kilometres.
A more interesting route is the Pinastrellaia cycle path (19 kilometres, subject to a fee), which takes you from Alberese to Collelungo along the Strada degli Ulivi.
At your destination you will find bike racks.
Also starting from Marina di Alberese, you could take a pleasant walk along well-marked paths. There are 7 scenic kilometres, suitable for every ability, that will lead you to a splendid view of the Parco dell'Uccellina, a protected area in the heart of the Maremma, in the province of Grosseto. You will find yourself among forested hills, olive groves, pastures, pine forests and estuaries. In spring and autumn, during the migration cycles, the park transforms into a paradise for birdwatchers, who can spot waders, ducks, herons and egrets. In all seasons it is not uncommon to encounter roe deer, hedgehogs and badgers.
Cala di Forno
The bay next to the Collelungo Beach is Cala di Forno and is definitely worth a visit. Equally rugged and difficult to access, you have to walk several kilometres, about 10 or 18 depending on where you start from, but from the Collelungo Tower you are already halfway there, it's just an hour away! You can also ask the help of an experienced guide. The alternative is to reach it by sea. And there are also those who ride the scenic paths through the lush Mediterranean maquis on a Maremma horse. Various companies offer excursions, including guided day trips. Deer and roe deer make the same journey in the Uccellina Park and often come as far as the beach. Peregrine falcons fly in the sky.
As at Collelungo, you will find nothing but an amazing patch of nature: bring enough water and food with you. The cove is nestled between two majestic green promontories that shelter it from the wind. The sand is fine and golden and becomes almost white in the sun. The sea here is hauntingly.