The splendid seaside town of Follonica lays at the centre of its homonymous gulf in the coastal area called “Maremma”. Besides being a famous spot for tourists and a strategic gateway towards Elba Island and Corsica, Follonica also offers a series of hidden gems and festivals, perhaps less known to the wider community of tourists, but that can are certainly worth a stop-by when sailing along the Tuscan coastline.
Passeggiando per le strade del centro città Follonica
Follonica: what to see on land and sea
From imperial foundry to Riviera destination
The first historical mention of this geographical area dates back to 884 and refers to the Valli castle, which is located a few kilometres south. It is only in 1834 when the small coastal village of 'Fullona' becomes known as the tourist spot we know today. It was in fact by order of King Leopold II of Lorena that the “Royal and imperial foundries” were installed in town to refine the minerals extracted from the surrounding hills and from the deposits of Elba Island.
The heritage of its industrial past is still visible today: for example, the Palace of the Clock tower, the architectonical bodies of the various foundries, St. Ferdinand’s Kiln and the monumental cast-iron gate. A recurring yearly event celebrates exactly that historical heritage: it's the “Follos 1838” which takes place in May for twenty years now. It is a wonderful time to breathe the historical atmosphere that every year takes locals and tourists alike back to those times.
Summer festivals in Follonica and nearby
The summer is, undeniably, a wonderful moment to visit this coastline. Worth mentioning is the Follonica summer festival where Italian and foreign artists perform live at the Arena del Parco Centrale. Another event worth adding to your agenda, especially if you're into jazz music, is the Grey Cat Jazz Festival, a music festival that takes place every year from the last week of July till mid-August. Not too far from here, you can also get a taste of independent cinema, while enjoying the beautiful Tuscan countryside, in Castiglione della Pescaia, for the Festival di Maremma: here you'll find a wonderful series of film projections and initiatives related to cinematography. What a setting to have the classical movie-under-the-stars moment...
Festival della Maremma in Castiglione della Pescaia
Meet the protagonist: The sea
All the aforementioned initiatives create an excellent frame for the attraction that undoubtedly represents this area’s most beloved attraction: the sea. The long sandy beaches of Follonica, in fact, lay in front of the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and are located at arm’s reach from some of the most fascinating places in the Tuscan Archipelago. Renting a boat in Follonica is often a good choice to explore some of the less known touristic destinations for sailors.
Weigh your anchor! First stop...
Once you've reached Follonica, before you get on your boat and lower your sales to catch a bit of wind, how about taking a quick stroll below the branches in the natural reserve Tomboli of Follonica.
The Reserve stretches along the coastline from Puntone di Scarlino. A very exclusive protected area that starts right from the heart of the town and includes two parks: Pineta di Levante and Pineta di Ponente.
Itineraries from Follonica
Besides the streets cobbled with red limestone and the Napoleonic age’s remnants (chapeau, mon general!) in Portoferraio, the natural beauties of the Tuscan Archipelago and its national park are certainly worth a visit. The presence of a natural reserve here makes it ideal for snorkelling, especially in the western part of the Island, where you can find, hidden among coves and Mediterranean flora, the Elviscot shipwreck, a trading ship sunk back in 1972 close to Pomonte; its depth of just ten meters on the sandy bottom of the sea makes it a great place even for rookie divers.
Sailing northwards, you'll sail to the more tourist Capraia, where, with a bit of luck, you'll get a chance to spot sperm whales - especially between late spring to early autumn.
The tower of the port in Capraia
If you decide to aim southwards with your prow, you’ll have the chance to visit the equally fascinating Natural Reserves of Pianosa and Montecristo (for which you’ll need special permission granted by Follonica’s carabinieri).
The small harbour of Isola del Giglio
And of course, we cannot forget the gem of the Archipelago: the Isola del Giglio. Mooring in the small harbour of this picturesque village, any bar or restaurant will be a great spot to taste some local delicacies.
The Ansonica Grapes from Isola del Giglio are famous for their nutty aroma
Be sure to order one glass of Ansonaco: we’re talking about a local wine produced using 90% of grapes grown on the island that, after a decline in production, came back to the spotlight and has now become one of the most expensive wines in the world! Pair it with a delicious meal of the Tuscan tradition before heading back to mainland, the perfect finale for your sailing vacation.