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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Feb 2019 > Super Tuscany

Super Tuscany

Tuscany’s Alta Maremma – once a malaria-infested swamp – has become a mecca for hedonists the world over. Anna Blomefield finds out why…
The Merlot harvest at Biserno – only recently have people thought to grow Bordeaux varieties here
Images by Anna Blomefield unless otherwise stated

I’m leafing back through my wine-tasting notes. “Perfumed, black fruits, baked, liquorice. Great length… amazing!” The page is stained with purple drips. I remember this wine clearly – Guado al Tasso Cont’Ugo 2015. It was sensational. But then, I was also drinking it on a hillside in the Tuscan Maremma, surrounded by undulating vineyards and tall umbrella pines, and there’s nothing quite like tasting wine in the very place where it’s grown. The wines we discover on holiday are friends for life.

Nobody really talked about the Maremma in the 1980s. Wine buffs, and some of the rest of us, had heard the name Sassicaia whispered on the grapevine. But our love affair with Chiantishire was in full bloom. We wanted Florence and Siena, San Gimignano – A Room with a View. The Bolgheri DOC region, now so revered, wasn’t even created until 1994 – indeed, the Maremma itself as we now know it hadn’t been around very long. Until the 1930s, when the land was drained under Mussolini, it was still a malariaand bandit – infested swamp. Not exactly a holiday destination.

BLISSFUL ANTICIPATION

I love arriving at a destination after dark; the blissful anticipation of that first parting of the curtains. As the car turns off the main road from Pisa and starts to climb a pitch-dark gravel track, the headlights reveal fragmentary clues.

There’s a line of cypresses, their graceful pointed forms silhouetted against a trace of faint light in the velvet sky. The air smells warm, herbal, a little humid. A roughly handpainted sign appears: Divieto di Caccia. No hunting. “It’s mainly the wild boars,” says my host Niccoló. “We might see one.”

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About Italia!

True to form, this issue is packed with fascinating features and articles covering the Italian peninsula. You’ll love the evocative account of a visit to Genoa – our cover star this month – there is so much to see and admire, and take a boat trip out onto the Venetian lagoon to explore the forgotten islands, all with poignant tales to tell. Our newest writer Anna takes us on a tour of the Alta Maremma, once a marshy swamp and now the home to some of the finest wines in Italy, while the Po Delta is the destination for a weekend away.