“Come see us at my in-laws’ summer place in Castagneto Carducci, it’s on the Tuscan coast, around Bolgheri area, where the Super Tuscan wines are produced…..,” replied our beautiful friend Lynn, who just then moved to Italy from NYC with her Italian husband, when we e-mailed her about our plan to visit Italy.

The idea of seeing Lynn and visiting part of Tuscany we had not been to and heard about was certainly appealing. And of course, the idea of tasting Super Tuscan wines made it a no-brainer.

Tuscany’s coast, called the Etruscan Coast,  is a narrow strip of coastline on the west of the region. It is so called because of the presence of the Etrruscan civilization that inhabited the beautiful coastal area from 9th century BC (long before the Romans).

Aside from archeological parks, Etruscan Coast boasts of lovely beaches and crystalline water, and is Tuscany’s gateway to the Mediterranean sea. But we found that its utmost charm lies in its hilly hinterland, where tiny, lesser known hamlets await to enchant your heart and your palate.


Castagneto Carducci is a hilltop hamlet dominated by a castle of the Gherardesca clan who once controlled the surrounding area. Situated in the middle of the Etruscan Coast, we found it a perfect base in exploring the area.

Castanegto Carducci, Tuscany, ItalyIf you think the view of the hamlet from below is so scenic just wait to see the view that it offers from its hilltop.

Street in Castagneto Carducci, Tuscany, Italy

A relaxing walk in the quant city center of Castagneto Carducci reveals a lot of charm and history.  Its web of steep and narrow lanes is lined with cafes, food and wine shops, historic buildings, churches, lovely piazzas, and handsome homes. Aside from the castle, one point of interest that the village is proud of is the childhood home of Giosue Carducci, a famous 19th century poet after whom the hamlet was named after.

View from hilltop of Castagneto Carducci, Tuscany, ItalyWe found that the most stunning feature of Castagneto Carducci was the panoramic view from its hilltop. It offers a spectacular vista of surrounding hills, vineyards and the sea.

Castagneto Carducci at night Tuscany, ItalyThe quiet streets of Castagneto Carducci becomes lively at night. Locals and visitors alike filled the street cafes to partake the delicious and traditional gastronomic offerings.  We enjoyed the excellent pizzeria and gelateria where Lynn took us one evening.Pasta meal in Castagneto Carducci, Tuscany, ItalyWe found that we couldn’t go wrong anywhere we ate around here. We, of course, enjoyed the pasta dishes.  In this lunch, I had a heavenly ravioli with seafood and Keith had a pasta with cinghale (wild boar), a traditional Tuscan delicacy which he enjoyed almost everyday during our time in the region. Paired with excellent local wine, every meal was absolutely divine.

Castagneto Carducci, Tuscany, ItalyAside from the pleasure of seeing Lynn and meeting her new baby,  we also had a great pleasure of spending a day at her family’s typical Tuscan home and garden, where we took delight in everything that was growing around it.


Podere Gaudo el Melo Winery, Blogheri, Tuscany, ItalyThe road that goes down the hill of Castagneto Carducci rolls into rows of olive groves and into vineyards and wineries of Bolgheri area, where some of the best Tuscan wines are produced.  Its Super Tuscan Sassicaia is  considered one of the finest Italian red wines.  Sassicaia actually brought Bolgheri to international prominence when it won over assortment of Bordeux wines in an international competition in 1974. 

Wine Tasting, Podere Guado el Melo Winery, Bolgheri, Tuscany, ItalyWe visited several vineyards and wineries in the area, most of which were family owned and used organic winemaking process.  Aside from Sassicaia, we tried other excellent produce of the area such as Bolgheri Superiore, Bolgheri Rosso, and Ornellaia among red wines, and the Vermentino Bolgheri and Bolgheri Bianco among the white wines.

Cypress Avenue, Bolgheri, Tuscany, italyBolgheri is well-known among locals for its Viale dei Cipressi (Cypress Avenue), a 5 km scenic road flanked by ancient cypress trees that leads to the main village of Bolgheri. Poet Carducci actually immortalized this avenue in one of his famous poems.

Castle in Bolgheri, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, Italy

Cypress Avenue ends in front of the Castle of Bolgheri, which serves as the gate to the village. It dates back to 1500 and belonged to the old noble family of Count Gherardesca. 

A shop in Bolgheri, Tuscany, italy

A wine and food shop in Bolgheri.

Behind the castle is an enchanting hamlet, where narrow alleys and charming streets are lined with lovely homes, specialty shops, wine stores and bars, and trattorias.

Street in Bolgheri, Tuscany, italy

Street and shops in Bolgheri.

Homes in Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy

Homes in Bolgheri.

Street in Bolgheri, Tuscany, italy

An alley in Bolgheri.

Church in Bolgheri, Tuscany, italy

A church in Bolgheri.

Eating in Bolgheri, Tuscany, italyBolgheri also makes an excellent gastronomic stop. At Enoteca Tognoni. Keith and Lynn enjoyed the specialties of pasta with wild boar ragu and pork cuts, while I had a non-specialty but still delicious seafood pasta. This place serves more than 40 wines by the glass!


A drive on a winding, woody hill road from Castagneto Carducci leads to Sasetta, a picturesque tiny hamlet where the houses seem to be clinging on a hilltop overlooking the sea.

Houses in Susseta, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, ItalyThe woods of Sasetta are full of spectacular hiking trails and paths for walks, cycling and horseback riding.

Houses in Susseta, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, Italy

The main road in Sussetta.


A further drive on an even more winding, heartbeat-stopping road led us to the medieval hamlet of Suvereto. Its origin is said to date back before year 1000.The Gates of Suvereto, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, ItalySuvereto is surrounded by ancient city wall and can be accessed through several arched gates.

Streets and Stairways of Suvereto, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, ItalyInside the city wall are cobbled streets lined with ancient stone houses, historical buildings, magnificent churches, shops and trattorias.

Buildings in Suvereto, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, Italy

Some of the very medieval homes in the hamlet.

The church of Suvereto,  Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, Italy

A church containing ancient frescoes.

Restaurants in Suvereto, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, ItalySuvereto is popular among locals as a ” Slow Food” town (as opposed to “Fast Food”), a movement that  “aims to promote local foods and centuries-old traditions of gastronomy and food production.”

Street in Suvereto, Etruscan Coast, Tuscany, Italy

A medieval street of Suvereto.

We were happy to have discovered the charming hamlets of the Etruscan Coast. It’s a wonderful area to explore if you want to stay away from the heavily touristed area of Tuscany.


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49 responses to “Tuscany: Charming Hamlets in The Etruscan Coast

  1. Katie

    I LOVED Tuscany! Awesome post – and lovely pictures. Obvious, I know, but they are all so Italian. I miss the food, such great pastas and pizzas. Looks like a lovely trip! :)
    Katie recently posted..The Temples of BaliMy Profile

    • Marisol

      HI Lili, it really is.

    • Marisol

      Hi Cindy, you’re welcome. The area is really lovely and is worth the return trip. I hope you get to go back soon.

  2. wow you always take us to the most amazing places. I am ready to go down to the Travel shop and buy a ticket right now. I wish I was walking those streets, and eating that food, and seeing those vistas. Thank you for taking us along with you. Beautiful images always make your posts a treat to visit. Thank you.

    • Marisol

      Hi Jill, thanks! such compliment coming from a great photog like you. I hope you make it there soon. You and your camera will love it there.

    • Marisol

      Hi Corinne, it truly is lovely and worth going for just for the delicious pizza and wine alone.

  3. What a perfect experience – to be with locals in a lesser known part of a beautiful area of Italy. How much better can it get? I don’t live so far from the Etruscan coast but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been. I want to recify this as soon as possible. I feel a trip coming on this autumn!
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo recently posted..Rafting – an extreme family sportMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Phoebe, Yes my friend, I think it’s time to rectify that! Autumn should be a great time to visit. I’ll be jealous though; I’d love to go back.

  4. I am so fascinated by little European towns/hamlets. The cobblestone streets, the narrow alleys and the gorgeous scenery, not to mention the gastronomic delights – how can one go wrong with that?

    Excellent trip.
    Photo Cache recently posted..Valley of Fire: Otherworldly landscapeMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Maria, you’re right, you can’t go wrong with that and makes travel a true delight.

  5. Okay, next to Greece I love Italy best and this area in particularly looks like our kind of place. What a wonderful tour you gave — although it is just before noon in Hawaii and those food photos were torture — and that final photo of you is spectacular. . . talk about travel fashion – you nailed it!!!
    Jackie Smith recently posted..Kauai: Luxury Travel for Less, Part IMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Jackie, Ha! Ha! Thank you, that’s sweet of you. I can see you and scout strolling on these hamlets’ charming streets and sitting down for a a nice sip of wine and fabulous food.

  6. noel

    Ah you guys travel to the most fascinating places. I’m going to be in Emilia Romagna in a few weeks, so looking forward to the amazing food there!
    noel recently posted..Grand Canyon morning tourMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Noel, wow you’re heading to one fascinating place yourself! I’ve seen some of Cathy Sweeney’s posts of ER and it looks like a fantastic place to explore. I look forward to your post about it.

    • Marisol

      Hi Nancie, if you want to make it to wine heaven you really have to go to Tuscany on your next visit to Italy! Yes, it was nice to have my friend there, otherwise, we wouldn’t have learned about these places.

  7. jan

    You were lucky to find good food. I know Italy is known for it’s food but sometimes it is hard to find. I love the less touristed areas of Tuscany. The little villages, churches, the views of olives – sometimes you must pinch yourself to see if it is all real. :) My favourite photos are the Church of Bolgheri complete with scooter and the grey church containing frescoes. We spent all our time further inland from where you were and didn’t see the coast at all. Something I hope to address in the future – or even just getting closer to the coast.
    jan recently posted..Ayvalik an Agean Seaside Town in TurkeyMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Jan, we found that its easier to find good food in small towns than the bigger touristy ones. Yes, everything here was quite charming that we had to pinch ourselves. I hope you make it to this part of Tuscany on your next Italian adventure.

  8. How fun that you were able to explore Tuscany with a knowledgeable friend as a guide. I like that this was off-the-beaten-path as far as tourists are concerned yet obviously enjoyed by locals judging by the number of wines available at the restaurants. Your camera’s memory card must have been overflowing.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..When in Rome… Learn to Fight at Gladiator SchoolMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Michele,
      Yes, we were lucky to have a friend who knew about this place. It’s really wonderful that these places are not touristy. Most visitors it receive are locals from other Italian towns, like my friend’s family. How did you know that my memory card was overflowing?:) Indeed….but unfortunately, I lost a lot of photos (long story).

  9. Is there anything more charming than a hilltop Italian village? I haven’t yet been to Tuscany, but I’m trying to make arrangements. Would make a point to visit these places you’ve shown us. Your photos remind me of the villages and scenery of Emilia-Romagna that I fell in with. You’ve also gotten my interest with the Tuscan super wines!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Gulf Coast Dreaming: Panama City BeachMy Profile

    • Marisol

      HI Cathy, nothing can be more charming! I hope you make it to Tuscany soon. I’m sure you will love it there. The Super Tuscan wine will be a great treat.

  10. Bama

    Marisol, it happened again. You published a post on a place which I’ve been thinking lately! I have to really get used to it. :) Speaking of Tuscany won’t be complete without mentioning its pasta and wine, and your post did exactly just that. But I wonder how wild boar meat tasted compared to pork. Was it more succulent? Anyway, I’m reading this before dinner time, so now I have to tame my growling stomach. :)
    Bama recently posted..Manggarai: Life in The Land of AbundanceMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Bama, I think great minds think alike! I asked Keith to describe the taste of wild boar for you and he said that it was “succulent and tender.” He really liked it, especially because they were organic. Tuscany is really amazing Bama, I hope you make it there sometime soon.

    • Marisol

      Hi Leigh, it truly was exceptional. Off-the-beaten-path and great food and wine = divine!

  11. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Tuscany. If I get a chance to choose where in the world I’d live, I would definitely choose the area. I’ve only been to Firenze and Pisa and I was already impressed. Seeing your post made me realize there;s so much more to it! I really want to go back!

    • Marisol

      Hi Aleah, I’m not surprised that you love Tuscany that much. I hope you get to back and see the heart of it and I assure you that you will fall in love more.

  12. Aah…the Etruscan Coast looks incredible! Viale dei Cipressi is such a stunning road, and medieval Suvereto looks like my kind of town. I’d especially be interested in learning about its Slow Food Movement. I’m definitely looking forward to returning to Italy and exploring in more depth. Beautiful pictures as always, Marisol!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..5 Reasons You Should be Exploring Your Own BackyardMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Dana, Tuscany and its hamlets are really charming and amazing. I hope you get to visit them next time you visit Italy.

    • Marisol

      HI Agness, if you love sea, red wine and food then this is a great destination for you. I hope you make it there soon. You’ll love it!

  13. I adore Tuscany and have been a number of times but not to any of the places you mention. I clearly need to go back again! Love your photos as always.
    Kathryn Burrington recently posted..Top 10 things to eat in ItalyMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thanks Kathryn! I hope you make it to this area next time. It truly is charming and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the food and drinks.
      Marisol recently posted..Florence At LeisureMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thanks Lesley! I really hope you can drive through Cypress Avenue soon.

  14. Absolutely divine and gorgeous scenery! This is my kind of a foodie and wine tour! How lucky that you had a friend as a tour guide. What a beautiful virtual tour, Marisol. Love those pictures of the verdant vineyards. We’re going to be in Florence for a day in November and it pains me to know we’ll be near this area yet have no time to visit. I guess it’s a good reason to go back to Italy and do a Tuscan tour :-)
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Going Home: Postcards from GUAMMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Mary, it really was absolutely gorgeous! And if you’re into great food and wine, it truly is a divine destination. Too bad you only had a day in Tuscany in November. There’s always good reasons to go back in Tuscany and I hope you make it to the coast next time.

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  16. Mike

    Oh lordy I need in-laws like Lynn has and I’m not even married! Ok, maybe I should put myself up for adoption :) This soooo beautiful, Marisol, and also I was wanted to reach through the computer screen to grab a taste of all of that food :)
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