This Tiny Italian Town Is Off The Beaten Path And Loaded With Lush Forests And Beaches

Visiting Italy is a vacationer's dream. Its history dates back thousands of years, and the architecture and countryside are astonishingly beautiful. The food is beyond belief, too, whether you're up for prosciutto pasta, Caprese salad, or gelato. For sightseeing, maybe you're thinking of the Forum and Colosseum in Rome, the Statue of David and priceless paintings in Florence, pizza in Naples, or the canals of Venice. Perhaps you're even considering adding the ruins of Pompeii to your European bucket list. They are all incredible, of course, and you should go at least once in your life if you can. However, there are plenty of Italian places you might not know about that are just as wonderful to visit, including the beautiful seaside town of Punta Ala. 

Punta Ala sits on the Tuscan coast, between Pisa and Maremma Natural Park, and you won't find it packed with your fellow Americans. You're far more likely to see visitors from Milan, Italy, than anywhere else. You'll encounter a fragrant pine forest near Punta Ala's incredible beaches and even a 16th-century castle. Plus, you'll see the famous Punta Ala marina, which is full of stunning boats and impressive yachts. Let's take a look at Punta Ala, why the name changed not that long ago, and learn all you need to know before you visit.

The forest and beaches of Punta Ala

Punta Ala has everything you would need for a beach and boating vacation. It also comprises a gorgeous pine forest, and the scent of pine perfumes the air. This may seem unusual while lounging on the shore, but it only adds to the unique charm of the region. Speaking of the shore, you can visit Punta Ala beach, north of Punta Hidalgo, which is 3.7 miles of soft sand and water. Your furry friends will also enjoy this stretch, as a portion of the beach has been set aside for them. For even more convenience, bathrooms and strolling areas are nearby. 

If you prefer proximity to the port, visit Spiaggetta del Porto di Punta Ala. To enjoy this beach, you must rent an umbrella and deck chair to maximize your relaxation. If you have little ones with you, this beach is a good choice because of the gentle gradient into the water. Spiaggetta del Porto di Punta Ala also has a path to the Castle of Punta Ala (or Torre di Troia Nuova), built in the 16th century to repel pirates. You can't reach Punta Ala by train; if you don't have a car, you can take a train to Follonica, then a bus, which will take you about 30 minutes or so. It may be worth not driving there because there are many clubs and bars in town and right by the beach. 

Other things to do in Punta Ala

Set in the province of Grosseto, Punta Ala was once called Punta Troia, but in the mid-20th century, airman Italo Balbo flew over the area and brought property there. Balbo renamed it Punta Ala (which means "port of the wing," alluding to an airplane wing). In the 1970s, a tourist port was built, and the area became a seaside resort spot. From this site, you can see the island of Elba, one of Italy's most underrated islands for a crowd-free vacation, in the distance. You can take a ferry there from Punta Ala, but the real stunner is the dock full of various watercraft. Add the clear blue water of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the two-hour proximity north of Rome, and Punta Ala is the recipe for a great trip. 

Punta Ala has around 400 residents (via City Population), so it has a small-town feel, but there is plenty to do. There are tours of the local wineries in the surrounding areas, like nearby Rocca di Fassinello or the lovely and modern-looking Cantina Petra. This seaside spot is also known for its seafood, so make sure to sample some delicacies. Punta Ala is a port town, so of course, boating is a must. Nautal offers boats and yachts of all sizes and types (with or without a skipper) for less than $100 a day to over $1,000, depending on what you choose.