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Cala Martina

Cala Martina, the beach of Garibaldi

Nature trail

Cala Martina is a small pebble beach with a wild appearance located just north of Cala Violina; it is protected by two promontories, Punta Francese in the north and Punta Martina in the south. It often holds branches or tree trunks carried in the cove by the storms, used by swimmers as temporary shelter from the sun. The shallow water can be explored with a mask and snorkel: in the points closest to the reef the submerged rocks are an ideal habitat for small fish and crustaceans. The beach is divided into two parts by a low promontory easily crossable without getting your feet wet. You can reach the cove through a very short downhill path that separates from the main path at the intersection with the naturalistic path that climbs through the hills to reach the parking of Pian d’Alma.

Above the creek is a monument dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi, who overcame in Cala Martina one of the most intense and heroic moments of its existence. The monument was placed by the Municipality of Gavorrano, within whose bounds was also located Scarlino, in 1949 to celebrate the centenary of Garibaldi’s escape; it is the work of the sculptor Tolomeo Faccendi.

Giuseppe Garibaldi in Cala Martina: the formidable escape that united Italy

The democratic movements that involved much of Europe in 1848 led to the flight of Pope Pius IX from Rome in November and the establishment of a constituent assembly and a provisional government. On February 5, 1849, the Assembly proclaimed the birth of the Roman Republic (usually called the Second Roman Republic to distinguish it from that of the Napoleonic era) and on the 15th of the same month it was followed by the Tuscan Republic which replaced the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; Grand Duke Leopold II was forced to flee to Gaeta near the Pope.

The spring of 1849, mainly due to massive Austrian and French military intervention, saw the overthrow of the political situation and the gradual restoration of the status quo: during the month of March the Kingdom of Sardinia resumed hostilities against Austria and was defeated in what became known as the First War of Independence; on April 12 the Tuscan Republic had already fallen following a counter-revolution and in the following days the Austrian army, under the mandate of the Grand Duke in exile, moved against Tuscany to repress the pockets of resistance; on July 28 the Grand Duke returned to Florence. At the same time Napoleon III’s France moved against Rome: on April 24 a French expeditionary body landed in Civitavecchia and on April 30 he tried recklessly to take Rome from the Janiculum, where the bulk of the Republican militias had gathered and where he had also barricaded himself Garibaldi with his volunteers. From June 3 the French army, greatly strengthened by the reinforcements, laid siege to the city despite the strenuous resistance and gave way to a month of bloody fighting. On July 2 the Roman Republic accepted the surrender on the condition that Garibaldi was allowed to leave the city with his own.

The “hero of the two worlds” began a long march through central Italy with the hope of raising populations against invaders. Finding closed all the doors, Garibaldi decided to try to reach Venice that still opposed the Austrians. The attempt failed because of the manhunt organized by the Habsburg army: several of the hero’s companions were found and shot during the first days of August. Meanwhile Garibaldi’s wife Anita, in her sixth month of pregnancy, was beginning to experience severe illness; hidden in a hut in the valleys of Comacchio and helped by the local population Garibaldi and his companions succeeded in escaping the pursuers but on the evening of August 4 they had to watch impotent the death by illness of Anita. The hero, without even having time to bury his wife, continued to wander through the countryside disguised as a farmer to reach the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines: throughout the journey dozens of people did their utmost to hide and help the famous revolutionary. The salvation of Garibaldi, the best known Italian patriot, seemed to tie the fate of the ideals of national unity and democracy: the success of his escape, pursued by foreign and reactionary armies, would have broadly echoed the public opinion and contributed to further increase the sympathy of the population towards the cause.

At the end of August Garibaldi arrived in Maremma: the plan was to reach the Kingdom of Sardinia by sea and therefore salvation. On August 28 a Scarlino landowner of Mazzini’s sympathies, Angiolo Guelfi, while he was in Pomarance near Volterra, was informed that the fugitive had found shelter in the hamlet of San Dalmazio. In the conversation with the general the Guelfi decided to use his network of relationships to organize the flight by sea. On the night between September 1 and 2, the general was taken to the estate of Angiolo Guelfi at the current Scarlino Scalo. Guelfi himself, who knew he was being guarded by the police, pretended to go to the spas and then to Pisa, thus removing the attention from his home. The Guelfi, however, had set up a plan to bring with a boat Garibaldi to Elba and from here to Portovenere in Liguria, part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. On the morning of September 2, the general was taken to the sheltered Cala Martina where a fishing boat awaited him, led by Paolo Azzarini. From here he reached the Island of Elba and on September 5 he landed in Portovenere, putting an end to his extraordinary escape. I the days before the Austrian occupants had spread false news through the newspapers about the arrest of Garibaldi, so the announcement of his unexpected salvation invigorated the hearts and purposes of the Italian patriots: a decade later, with the Second War of Independence and with the Enterprise of the Thousand led by the same Garibaldi, the Kingdom of Italy was born.

Short path: Cala Martina can be reached from the hamlet of Portiglioni – Puntone di Scarlino through a path of 2 km along the wide and scenic trail that winds from north to south along the coast. From the marina, follow uphill lungomare Giuseppe Garibaldi up to the promontory of Terra Rossa; from here begins the path that continues meeting the Cale di Terra Rossa and Cala le Donne and finally Cala Martina. The route is particularly suitable for those who want to reach Cala Martina by bike, enjoying the magnificent panorama.
Long path: from the Pian d’Alma car park it is necessary to go along a wide path, on foot or by bike, for just over 1.5 km that goes through the Mediterranean scrub to reach the beach of Cala Violina. At the end of the path turn right and take the path that follows the coast to the north for 1.5 km until you reach Cala Martina.
From Pian d’Alma car park: 55′ on foot, 20′ by bike.
From Portiglioni – Puntone di Scarlino: 45′ on foot, 15′ by bike.
From Cala Violina: 30′ on foot, 10′ by bike.
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