Resource Guide to Traveling and Visiting Tuscany


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Castiglione della Pescaia

Castiglione della Pescaia is an ancient seaside town in the province of Grosseto . The modern city grew around a medieval fortress and a large fishery, from which it got its designation. Today Castiglione della Pescaia is well known for its beautiful beaches and has become a center of international (mostly European) tourism.

Castiglione della Pescaia consists of a High City built on the hill that ends a chain of hills towards the sea, and of a Low City at the foot of the High City, straddling the drainage canal and marina that form the central part of town.
Castiglione is located in the South-Western portion of Tuscany, with a gorgeous view of the islands of Elba and Giglio, and of the promontory of Argentario. The hills that back the city slope into beautiful beaches that front the town in its entirety.
To the East of Castiglione is the rich floodplain of the Ombrone. Nothing much remains of the ancient lake Prile that used to be Castiglione's lifeblood


While Umbrians and Etruscans were most likely the first inhabitants of its location, Castiglione della Pescaia was first recorded under the name Salebrone in Roman times. The hill close to the coast proved to be an excellent location, as it dominated the sizable inland Prelius Lake, while the lake itself provided food (fish) and trading goods (salt).

In Medieval times, the city suffered from repeated pirate attacks and almost disappeared. It resurfaced in the 9th century AD under its current name, under joint protection of the Papacy and the Republic of Pisa.

The Pisans used Castiglione as a key element in their system of defence along the Tyrrenian coast. They built first a single tower on top of the hill, later expanded that to three towers joined by a wall that became the nucleus of the citadel. The three towers of Castiglione dominate the city seal to this day.

In the 13th century, Castiglione became an independent comune. Meanwhile, the river Ombrone had started silting up Lake Prile, which soon became a lagoon. In this newformed lagoon, malaria mosquitoes took hold, weakening the population of Castiglione. The city requested protection from various powers (Siena, the Medici, Aragon) and finally became part of the Grand Dukedom of Tuscany under the dynasty of Lorraine.

The house of Lorraine started a series of projects that greatly enhanced the lives of Castiglionesi. The swamps were drained over decades, increasing the amount of arable land, as well as killing off the malaria carrying mosquitoes.

After Tuscany became part of Italy in 1859, Castiglione became a comune in the province of Grosseto

Main road in Castiglione
Main road in Castiglione
Castiglione - overlooks the sea
Castiglione - nightview
Castiglione - restaurant
Near Castiglione


Vetulonia, formerly called Vetulonium or Vatluna, was an ancient town of Etruria, Italy, the site of which is probably occupied by the modern village of Vetulonia, which up to 1887 bore the name of Colonnata and Colonna di Buriano: the site is currently a fraction of the commune of Castiglione della Pescaia, with some 200 inhabitants.

It lies 300m above sea level, about 10 miles directly northwest of Grosseto, on the northeast side of the hills which project from the flat Maremma and form the promontory of Castiglione.

Vetulonia has Etruscan origins. Dionysius of Halicarnassus places the city within the Latin alliance against Rome in the 7th century BC. According to Silius Italicus, the Romans took their magisterial insignia from Vetulonia. Also Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy cite the town. The so called Mura dell'Arce or Cyclopical Walls date probably from the 6th-5th century BC, and show the political and commercial relevance of Vetulonia, which was famous for his goldsmiths. Under the Roman Empire, however, it reduced to a secondary center. Little is known also about the Medieval Vetulonia: first contented by the abbey of San Bartolomeo of Sestinga and the Lambardi family of Buriano, it was acquired by the commune of Massa Marittima in 1323. Nine years later it was handed over to Siena.

The site of the ancient city was not identified before 1881, and the identification has been denied in various works by C. Dotto dei Dauli, who places it on the Poggio Castiglione near Massa Marittima, where scanty remains of buildings, possibly of city walls, have also been found. This site seems to agree better with the indications of medieval documents, but certainly an Etruscan city was situated on the hill of Colonna, where there are remains of city walls of massive limestone, in almost horizontal courses.

The objects discovered in its extensive necropolis, where over 1,000 tombs have been excavated, are now in the museums of Grosseto and Florence. The most important were surrounded by tumuli, which still form a prominent feature in the landscape.

Vetulonia - necropolis
Vetulonia - necropolis