CAMPAGNATICO: A PHOTO GUIDE TO DANTE'S MAREMMA


Campagnatico during a thunder storm in the hills of the Maremma
On top of a green hill
Campagnatico seen from the South - East

When approaching Campagnatico during stormy weather, one isn't surprised that the Tuscan village got a mention in the book of books: Dante's Divine Comedy.

700 years later, Campagnatico doesn't look too different from what Dante must have imagined - but probably never saw in person - as the ideal backdrop for a scene in the purgatory: a Maremma nobleman's repentance over the errors he committed during his life (too much haughtiness was already an issue in Dante's time!). 



Campagnatico historic town center
Campagnatico seen from Villa Bellaria

Picture perfect (probably more so now than in the Middle Ages), the hill town in the Maremma has a lay-back atmosphere. Cats and the elderly sit on benches and the town's only bar tender is busy making Cappuccino, preparing Campari or selling newspapers. Population is low, but still high enough to allow for the survival of two alimentari (small food stores), a post office, a pharmacy and a total of three restaurants. 


Contemplating life on a bench in front of an 'alimentari' (food store) in Campagnatico
The pace of life in Campagnatico

WHAT TO SEE 

Have a look at the town's lovely churches (one of them constructed right out of the town walls) and then stop for Cappuccino or aperitivo at the bar and count the passersby (one hand should suffice). 

Make sure you take time for a short countryside walk, which takes you on a dirt road around the town. Walk to the roundabout right at the town entrance,  and there take the small road to the right that leads down into the valley. Stay on the road until you get to the medieval town walls on the other end of Campagnatico. You'll find lovely olive groves, wildflowers, and great views towards Monte Amiata and the Collemassari winery to the East, and once on the other side of town to Grosseto and the Tuscan coast in the West. 

FOOD AND WINE 

LOCANDA DEL GLICINE offers refined ambiance and great food. The restaurant belongs to the properties of the Monaci family, who are the initiators of many a cultural and food & wine related event in Campagnatico. The family also owns the PIEVE VECCHIA vineyard five minutes out of town. A visit at the winery is definitely worth your time, not only for the tasting of the estate's Tuscan red and white wines, but also for its contemporary architectural approach. 

For good pizza and rustic Tuscan cuisine dine at LA VECCHIA OLIVIERA. The restaurant is located right at the beginning of town and has a beautiful and spacious dining room.  

WHERE TO SLEEP

Right in the middle of Campagnatico lies VILLA BELLARIA, which offers rooms or apartment stays. Villa Bellaria is a great choice if you want Tuscan village life combined with views, space and tranquility. Apartments are simple but tastefully furnished and the park and villa still account for some of the former grandeur. There's a pool and an improvised volleyball court, and room/apartment prices are very good for Tuscan standards.
Getting married or renewing your vows? Villa Bellaria would also make for a perfect venue to do so in style. Invite the rest of your family without risking to blow your budget

CAMPAGNATICO IN THE DIVINE COMEDY

You can find the aforementioned passage of the Divine Comedy online on Poetry in Translation (scroll down to Purgatorio Canto XI:37-72 Omberto Aldobrandeschi). The canto tells about Omberto, a member of the Aldobrandeschi family - powerful Lombards, who ruled a big slice of Southern Tuscany stretching from Mount Amiata to the Maremma all through the middle ages. Dante meets Omberto during his walk through the purgatory. Killed by the Sienese, Omberto pays for the hubris shown during his short life. It must have taken quite some time in Dante's purgatory for him to understand that there is no such thing as blue blood. 

You'll also find signs citing the passage of the Divine Comedy in Campagnatico itself. Interestingly, some of them are signed with the name of the town's Berlusconi style ex-mayor. The obsessive adding of his name to public signs is telling. He obviously didn't get Dante's message, but suffers from the same lack of modesty as the famous Omberto. 

Can't come out yet? Scroll down for more photos of Campagnatico in spring. 

Into the wild, right next to Campanatico's town walls
Work in progress. The countryside road leading around Campagnatico. 

Campagnatico's churches: Pieve di San Giovanni Battista
From fortress to bell tower
View over the Maremma hills from Campagnatico's Villa Bellaria
Lunch break at Villa Bellaria

Medieval town houses in the town center
Spring cleaning in Campagnatico.

Pine and cypress trees in the park of hotel Villa Bellaria
Renaissance playground. The park at Villa Bellaria. 

A backroad in Campagnatico's small town center
The fabulous Tuscan light. To be found in Campagnatico too. 

One of the buildings at agriturismo Villa Bellaria
Detail of the old stables at hotel Villa Bellaria


Cloud hunting in Campagnatico
Ciao Campagnatico. We'll be back. 
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