From the farmhouses of Agriturismo Piani della Marina in the countryside between Tarquinia and Montalto di Castro you can enjoy a distant view of the sea. They date back to the 1950s, like many of the area built with the agrarian reform under the aegis of the Maremma body in the Tuscan-Lazio region.
Face to face with alpacas
In the estate of over 750 hectares the gaze sweeps between well-kept fields cultivated with wheat, field beans and sunflowers and the aromatic plants of the Mediterranean scrub alternate with the splendid almond and trees of the centuries-old cork oak.
The apartments of Agriturismo Piani della Marina take their name from the Mediterranean plant species that grow around the farmhouses and pools: Erica, Ginestra, Lentisco, Mirto, Oleandro, Olivastro and Eucalipto.
The renovation of the farmhouses of the small village a few kilometers from the sea and in the center of an important area of historical, archaeological and cultural interest, was based on the recovery of volumes, while the decoration and furnishings were chosen in fresh and delicate tones that contrast in a pleasant way between the green of nature and the brick red of the external walls.
The large interior spaces and the soft colors contribute to making the houses warm and welcoming, able to accommodate from four to ten people, ideal for families and groups of friends. Each apartment has a private bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, large living room with fireplace, porch or private terrace.
The buildings have retained their original appearance and are developed on two levels: the upper floors open onto terraces overlooking the garden and overlooking the sea on the horizon. The large windows ensure the brightness of the interiors without betraying its intimacy and all the rooms are airy, flooded with light, open but protected.
The central body is a representative space furnished in a classic and refined way like the annexes and the external areas under the arcades. The garden becomes an integral part of it between the lawn and the heated swimming pool: an outdoor space furnished like a living room with deck chairs and wrought iron chairs with white cushions.
All around a very green English lawn on which to run and play. A real plus that Piani della Marina guarantees to young and old, but above all to those like us who travel with four legs: Otto had so much fun running around among the trees. In reality he would have liked to reach the lake that is part of the estate but fortunately there is a fence that prevents you from getting too close.
For the little ones there is a dedicated space with a colorful and safe play area, while children and adults can devote themselves to other activities offered to guests including walking or horseback riding, cycling or mountain biking, guided excursions, trekking , golf, sailing and water sports.
Piani della Marina has constituted a strategic starting point for us to explore the surroundings, from the Etruscan Necropoli dei Monterozzi in Tarquinia to its enchanting historic center with an intact medieval atmosphere, to the coast where you can enjoy a romantic walk at sunset on the long beaches bordered by dunes and pine forests.
We reached Riva dei Tarquini, very popular during the summer season for its establishments, restaurants and kiosks, choosing Le Murelle for our sea view dinner, which shares the beach with the ancient Etruscan port of Regisvilla.
While in the afternoon we tried the exciting experience of stroking the sweet alpacas of Piani degli Alpaca, the largest farm in Italy that is part of the Agriturismo Piani della Marina estate.
Here the absolute protagonists are they, these tender but clever camelids originating from South America, where they have been bred for more than 4,000 years, belonging to the family of the lama, the vicuna and the guanaco.
We approached young females and little ones during the guided tour that led us to the enclosures where we fed them. Alpacas are very greedy and came in droves when they saw us enter with bowl in hand.
Then getting close to them becomes difficult except if the females are close to sexual maturation: then they become very docile and prone to caresses and even crouch down to take cuddles on the neck and rump. But, the guides recommended, never on the tuft! Even if that’s what attracts them, they don’t like being touched.
Our walk served not only to enjoy their company, but above all to learn more about these cute animals which, although they resemble lamas, boast several differences compared to their “close relatives”.
For example, the ears are different, proportionally smaller and straight instead of bent. Alpacas have different names depending on the stages of their life. They are called Cria from birth to weaning, while between six and 12 months they take the name of Tui. Another feature is that they are herd animals and suffer a lot on their own, so much so that they let themselves die.
These funny camelids are very clean. They tend to go to the toilet all in one place and when you get close to them there is no bad smell: which is why you would like to hug them like cute puppets. But they must be respected and even if they are not aggressive they tend to run away if they feel in danger. So they suggested not to scare them and to approach them slowly: there are no dangers and even children can do it because they do not bite and their teeth are not sharp. In addition they are not equipped with hooves but with bearings and if they should kick they don’t hurt too much!
Although today the alpaca is considered an excellent companion animal due to its docility, it is its wool, five times warmer than that of sheep, that is highly valued for its characteristics of finesse, brightness and lightness. Furthermore, as has been explained to us, the absence of lanolin makes alpaca products hypoallergenic.
At this point, surely you too are wondering: do alpacas spit? Occasionally even the alpaca like the llama spits, but not to people: the males do it among themselves to decide dominance and the females to reject the male.
Begun in 2015 with only 11 specimens, this magnificent adventure has now led Piani degli Alpaca to become the largest Italian herd with over 200 huacaya breed specimens that have perfectly adapted to their new life.
In addition to the guided tour like the one we did which gives the opportunity to learn about their history and their habits and to take beautiful photos, you can book walks with alpacas trained to walk on the halter along a path of about two kilometers inside of the farm.