acknowledging that being August both roads and beaches would be populated, we
set off in search of places to cool down – August has recorded some of the
hottest temperatures ever. Our destinations are both in the Provincia di
Cala Violina is just over a two-hour drive from Cortona (110 Kms),
situated between Punta Ala and Follonica, going first along the superstrada to
Grossetto and then down wonderful winding roads through pine forests, olive
groves, fields of sunflowers, and harvested grain. It’s necessary to book https://www.calaviolinascarlino.it both the parking (€10 for the day) and the
beach (€1 per person) for Cala Violina – as they cap it at 700 people a day in
Rightly so, as the
‘beach that plays an ancient melody’ as it’s known – with the grains of quartz
that play a melody as you take each step – is situated in the Mediterranean
scrub of the Scarlino nature reserve. Fortunately you can only get there by
foot (1.5 Km stroll through pine forests from the parking) or bike or private
Cala Violina bay
There’s a small
kiosk for the essentials (usual - not very interesting - panini, acqua, etc),
but our preference was to take our own picnic and just finish off with coffee
at the kiosk.
August, the water was refreshing, clean and inviting. The beach was busy – but
we were still able to find our own niche away from it all and soak up some sun
intermittently with the dip we had come in search of. This was our first visit
– and we had our minds set on cooling off – but we learned of the possibility
of boat tours and a wide range of fishing villages and tourist attractions to
explore next time, perhaps out of the height of the tourist season.
Only about half an
hour’s drive from Cala Violina, we arrived at Lago dell’Accesa – another
welcomed dip in a fresh water lake.
It’s a small 14-hectare, 50 metre deep
lake, surrounded by oak forests. Since 2001, the entire area surrounding the
lake has become an archaeological park, and you can visit the foundations of an
ancient Etruscan settlement dating back to the 7th century B.C.,
with easily accessible paths and panels that explain its history. The lake is
adorned in legends, one of which explains how the lake was created on 26 July
1218 by swallowing up peasants and their carts laden with harvested wheat as a
punishment for the owner for failing to respect the day dedicated to St. Anne,
the patron saint of reapers.
We will for sure
return as the area has plenty more to offer, and we were a little side-tracked
by the summer’s heat.