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The Cala Violina cove keeps being voted one of Italy's best beaches. Not for its beach bars and deck chair rentals (there are none), but for its clean waters and beautiful location with views towards the isle of Elba.

Arriving at Cala Violina via the footpath through the woods

The main reason why the Cala Violina cove remains a natural paradise lies in the difficult access to it. The beach can be reached only via a footpath through the Mediterranean shrub. However, this doesn't mean the beach is exactly off the beaten path. A paid parking area has been set up, due to the growing fame of the bay in recent years. The hike doesn't seem to put people off.

The tiny bay is called the violin cove because of the sound its fine sand makes when you walk on it. There is indeed a special sound to walking on it, but in summer you'll only be able to hear it if you tell my kids or the other Italians around to stop shouting around.

From Castiglione della Pescaia take the coastal road towards Scarlino. A bit after the turn off to Punta Ala (not to be taken), you'll pass a restaurant called Cala Violina, but drive on till you find indications for the parking area on the left side on the road. From here its about half an hour walk (less for the sporty ones) to the bay on a well kept hiking path.

Remember to bring plenty of water and a bite to eat since you won't come across a bar once you've started walking. The main part of the walk is through the wood, so it's shady enough to be done in summer too. However, the bay is popular with Italians who bring parasols and picnics so as to spend the whole day here in high season. So make sure you come early in the morning or towards the evening if you want to enjoy a bit of calm in the bay in July or August. Or as an alternative walk on to Cala Martina, the neighboring cove, which is pebbles not sand and hence less busy with beach goers, but attractive for history lovers since it has been a hiding place for Giuseppe Garibaldi on his way to Porto Venere. 

Ready for a proper hike? Walk or mountain bike along the 13km coastal path, which connects Punta Ala with the harbor of Scarlino (click through to the detailed hiking map).

Il Baracchino di Rodano is a great snack bar and Tuscan alimentari (food shoop) on the main road leading to the parking lot. Stop her for a quick lunch or buy the typical panini Maremmani (crunchy sandwiches made with Tuscan bread, prosciutto, cheese or salami) to take to the beach. 

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