What would you say if I told you that there was a beach whose grains of sand could play a melody? What would you say if I told you that it was one of the most spectacular in all of Tuscany? It sounds too good to be true, right? In this article, I’m revealing the secrets of Cala Violina in the Grosseto province of Tuscany’s Maremma. After reading this, you’ll want to make the trip before summer comes to an end, and what’s more, you’ll know exactly how to do it.
Cala Violina’s “Singing Sand”
Cala Violina is located along Tuscany’s Costa Grossetana (which just means the coast of the Grosseto province) between Follonica and Punta Ala. It is said to be one of only about 100 beaches in the entire world that can boast the rare “singing sand” phenomenon. In Cala Violina’s case, the sand’s quartz composition along with the various sizes of grains, recreate the tune of a violin.
An Exclusive Location
This isn’t a beach for everyone and that is a very good thing. If it were for the masses, it wouldn’t be that special. For starters, it is about a two-hour drive from Florence and an hour-and-a-half from Pisa. Secondly, from June 1st through September 30th, a reservation is mandatory. In peak season (late July through about the third week of August), it is booked solid every single day.
Now you’re thinking, OK, no big deal, I’ll just book weeks in advance and make sure I get a spot, right? Wrong. The farthest in advance you are able to book is 72 hours. I tried several times before I figured out that if I stayed up until midnight and logged on at exactly 12:01 am, I could probably get a spot for three days later. It worked.
If at this point you’re still interested, there is one more caveat: from the parking lot, it’s a 1.7 km walk on a gravel road partially uphill (each way, of course). There are no services beyond the parking lot where there are porta-potties and a small kiosk selling essential snacks. You won’t even find a garbage can. They’ve been removed to discourage wild boars and other animals from invading the surrounding woods.
And now for the good part: Cala Violina is by far the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in Tuscany. The somewhat strenuous walk is worth that first glimpse that you catch through the trees and beyond the wooden fence. The Tyrrhenian Sea opens up before you and Elba island is perfectly in sight. I could have stood there for at least another fifteen minutes just taking it all in, but there wasn’t time for that.
After descending the stairs to the shore, we decided to trek to the far end of the beach to set up “camp”. Even by 10 am, it seemed that hundreds of beachgoers had already beat us to the punch. By the time we got situated, the mid-August sun had done its job and our top priority was getting into the water.
I carefully listened for the musical notes on my way towards the shore shushing everyone in my party. Nothing. The water temperature was perfectly refreshing, about 26° C (79° F), and the clarity was like nothing I have seen anywhere in Tuscany. It’s very shallow for at least 50 or so meters out making it perfect for young children.
We spent the next several hours in the water, taking selfies, and climbing over the rocks that looked like they had been dusted with cinnamon. In fact, the earth here is rich in iron oxide and it’s easy to imagine the ancient Etruscans mining it here. The wind came up later in the day making for the perfect waves for boogie boarding.
As our day in paradise came to a close, we realized that the 1.7 km hike back to the car would probably be more challenging than it had been that morning. We were correct. In fact, I had to agree with the review that I had read just days earlier when the Google user described it as “brutal”.
Cala Violina had surely reached its maximum capacity of 700 people the day that we visited in mid-August and it pains me to say, that we did not hear an orchestra of violins beneath our feet. Mostly we heard the sound of children laughing and squealing and the waves lapping against the rocks.
I’ll be back again, likely just before sunset, in low season, not to take a dip in the crystal clear water, but to walk barefoot on Cala Violina’s shore and hopefully, to play a symphony.
Reservations must be booked online between June 1st and September 30th at Cala Violina Scarlino. Parking will cost you 10 euros plus beach entrance is 1 euro per person (children under age 12 are free) and you will be required to enter how many will be in your party. You’ll be given a QR code which you will be asked to present both at the parking entrance and again at the beach entrance.
Pack very light! An umbrella, a towel, food and water, and a fairly comfortable pair of shoes for the hike. Lots of people wore flip-flops but I felt more comfortable in sneakers as parts of the trail are slightly steep with loose gravel.
NO DOGS are allowed between June 1st and September 30th.
You can also bike into the park but you will still be required to have a reservation.
There are several picnic tables available in the shaded wood just before you reach the shore.
We recommend the Casalino Agriturismo for your stay just 92 km away
Visit their website