Leonardo Ferragamo said, sitting in Tarantella Lounge, overlooking a beautiful view of sailboats gliding across the Tuscan Archipelago. “It’s about service, it’s about the attitude of people who manage hospitality.
Scarlino is committed to quality and hospitality.
For a few hours, the drive from Rome to Scarlino in southern Tuscany takes you northward. Once there, you will find yourself in a lush landscape of ancient hilltop villages, the Tyrrhenian Sea waters, and forested peaks. This area was inhabited by the Etruscans during the seventh century BCE and later became the home of the Romans, who built a port. Burnt-colored roofs are still in use today, matching the color of sunset. Rugged metal windmills can be found on agricultural plains below the soft peaks.
Scarlino consists of two parts: an ancient hillside community and a resort on the coast that faces a half-moon bay. It is named after a Gothic word that means “torch light procession” and refers back to a Roman port lighthouse.
‘Scarlino attracted us for several reasons,’ Ferragamo explained. “Mostly because of the beauty of this region. It is located in the Mediterranean and is well protected with islands in front. We believed that we could make this a wonderful destination for both land and sea. Scarlino is a great place to be in nature’s beauty. You can reach all the neighboring islands (Sardinia and Corsica) within 60 to 70 km [35 to 45 mi] if you have a compass. Also, beautiful villages and major cities of Tuscany are easily reached from here. This is a great place to sail in Italy for regattas. I arrived in 2004. The building had begun. Scarlino was also a great choice for creating the base for the Swans in Mediterranean.
The ‘Swans’ line of sailboats is renowned for their elegance and engineering. They are rooted in Scandinavian design and Italian craftsmanship.
Pekka Koskenkyla, a Finnish sailing enthusiast, set out to build a series of elegant, high-performance, and elegant race boats. He wrote a letter of intent to Rod Stephens, a naval architect from Sparkman and Stephens (S&S), Rhode Island, U.S. He asked that they design a boat. They created a 36-foot sloop, later known as Swan 36. Because boats would no longer be subject to Finnish value-added tax, the length was determined. Two reasons Koskenkyla chose the name Swan were: First, it is named after an old boat in Turku, Finland, and secondly, because he knew that a simple name would help with future marketing efforts.
The S&S boat design of the Swan had a separation between rudder and keel, or the separation of the underwater vertical steering element and the underwater stabilizing element. This is called a split subbody and Swan was the first large-scale producer of ocean racing yachts with this feature. Koskenkyla was able to produce and sell 90 of these boats within a short time after the design was approved. He was a firm believer in the golden rule, “If it doesn’t work, don’t fix.”
Over the years, many lines of Swan yachts have been developed, including Swan 65 Sayulall, which won the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973/1974.
Leonardo Ferragamo, who had taken over Nautor’s Swan in 1998, decided to establish a Mediterranean base at Scarlino. A conglomeration mutually supportive structures and events emerged from that decision that has benefited a land that was almost forgotten in the past. These include the Scarlino marina (Marina di Scarlino), the adjacent Nautor’s Swan Global Service shipyard, and an office for ClubSwan Racing that organizes boat races–regattas–throughout the Mediterranean, as well as the world.
Scarlino’s marina is a semi-gated community that offers guests the option of fully serviced apartments or hotel rooms. The marina’s four-story, ziggurat-shaped buildings are cream colored and offer stunning views of the sea and sunsets. An arched colonnaded walkway, reminiscent of Bologna and any other ancient Italian city, is located in front of almost 600 boat berths. There are many amenities and services along the walkway. A supermarket sells truffle cream and light bulbs, and there is also a Corriere della sera newspaper that provides updates on regional and national news. You can rent fat, tired electric bicycles and shop for Blugirl and Saint Barth handbags. Il Beccofino Restaurant is located near bright red geranium planters. It serves gratinated shrimp with almond flakes, wild boar stew and olives, as well as fried octopus served with chickpea sauce. There is also a Doga Wine Bar, Bistrot, Zero Distanze Cafe, and a nearby sales office which displays berths and real estate as well as villas. You will also find everything you need in a square, including a police station, laundry rooms for visitors and an ATM.
Adjacent is Nautor’s Swan Global Service shipyard, closed off to the public but including a massive rubber-tired gantry crane that lifts and moves yachts with ease, or lets staff–seriously–feather dust spotless hulls.
The naval designs were also developed while this marina was being built. Juan Kouyoumdjian, a Valencia-based Argentinian naval architect, created ClubSwan 50 to commemorate Nautor’s Swan’s five-decade anniversary in 2016. This sailboat is light and performance-oriented. It can race in single-design environments with a smaller crew. To keep the interior clean, it features leather, teak, and clear coat carbon.
Maremma was the home of the lively Tuscan civilization between the fourth and seventh centuries BCE. It had residents who cultivated wild grapevines, drained swamps, and increased agricultural acreage. The Maremma was the most populous region in Italy before the Romans conquered or amalgamated these Etruscans. It was home to Romans as well as Greeks and Egyptians. But after the Roman Empire deteriorated, malarial swamps spread again throughout Maremma–transforming the terrain for centuries into a lawless land of fever, bandits and desolation.
Maremma today is a rich land of olive oil and mushrooms, with rolling hills along the coast. Scarlino, a charming hillside town, is reached by a steep switch-backed road. Below it lies the Gulf of Follonica. It’s a relatively calm area with tranquil waters and a beautiful coastline. Patrimonio is the northern finger of Corsica, France. It can be found directly to the west of the Mediterranean Sea.
It is also home to protected natural landscapes and waters. The Tuscan Archipelago National park, Europe’s largest marine reserve, has water sources. It includes Elba and Giglio, Capraia and Montecristo as well as the major islands of Pianoso, Giannutri, Giannutri, Giglio, Capraia and Montecristo. The Bandite di Scarlino Nature Reserve includes the coast, which has pristine Tuscan beaches as well as protected Mediterranean maquis scrub. The Maremma Regional Park is located further south, inland and along the coast. This region is rich in history: the Maremma Regional Park lies close to the Rusellae and Vetulonia Etruscan settlements.
Ferragamo chose Scarlino for its natural beauty, ease of sailing, Tuscan heritage, and close proximity–via land and sea–to the jewels of the Mediterranean. The island of Sardinia and Corsica can be reached in one day. The marina is less than 20 miles to the west of Elba. Scarlino is one of the most protected and safest ports in the Mediterranean because it has a mild microclimate, calm sea and wind conditions.
Stefan Neuhaus, CEO of Gruppo Marina di Scarlino, summarized visitor patterns.
“People who live here have some boating experience. Families who are looking for a place to host family events make up more than 60% of the visitors. We can arrange a shuttle service for visitors flying to Florence, Pisa, and Rome. Family vacations typically last three to four weeks. There are also second home owners, which we didn’t have before Covid. They can use our resort in the spring or autumn for two months to work remotely.
Maremma is the wild west of Tuscany. It’s a place where you can experience something different and off the beaten path. It takes only 45 minutes to get on a motorboat from the island Elba and into the Tuscan archipelago. It’s paradise for sailors. You can also enjoy horse riding, mountain biking and wine tasting nearby. There’s even a cooking school. Wild boar hunting is possible in season. Bolgheri, 45 minutes away, is home to some of the finest and most famous Tuscan wines. Marina di Scarlino is not the only area that the regattas have an impact on, but also the whole region. This gives the region an international feel.
It can be difficult to understand the types of sailing boats, regatta scoring systems and racing classes. The ClubSwan Racing racing initiative hosts a variety of regattas in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. It also includes the Rolex Swan Cup, and the Swan One Design Words. ClubSwan events are supported by famous names such as Rolex and Garmin, North Sails, Garmin, Garmin, and BMW.
Giacomo Mergoni was a Tuscanian born in Viareggio. He has been sailing since the age of 10. He is the CEO and investment manager at Banor Capital, a sponsoring wealth management firm with offices in Italy and Monte Carlo. He described event funding.
Boat owners contribute a lot to the funding of racing events, as do sponsors. Because sponsors don’t like to stay in one place for too long, they keep changing. They come back for a few more years, then move on.
ClubSwan hosts races at six Mediterranean locations, including the Swan Tuscany Challenge, which took place in the last week April. It featured four classes of one-design boats, and participants from 11 different countries. From May 31 to June 4, the Swan Sardinia Challenge at Villasimius will host the next races, which will see entrants from Japan, Brazil, and Europe. Other races in the Mediterranean will take place in Sardinia, Valencia (July), Palma de Mallorca and Porto Cervo (September), as well as in Split in Croatia (October).
The class rules for racing include the ‘one-design, driver-owner’ classes. “One-design” means that all boats are basically identical, the same design and manufacturer. This allows for winning to be attributed to sailors’ skill and experience rather than differences in form or hardware. Ferragamo highlighted other benefits of one-design.
“We believe it’s more fun because sailors are in the same boat. Only human power makes all the difference. Boats can be made more efficient by investing in performance. However, boats will not go out of fashion. As long as the boat is in the same category, it will still perform well twenty years later. These factors convinced us to create a new type of racing for larger boats, which is one-design racing.
The boat is called an “owner-driver” when a mixture of amateurs and professionals crew it. Crew members may include people who have raced in the Olympics, America’s Cup, or Ocean Race.
Federico Michetti, ClubSwan Racing’s CEO, said that’something very cool is that there are a mix of professionals and amateurs. This is something special. You won’t be able to play against Nadal if you are an amateur tennis player. But, this sport and its concept allows for that mix. You can see the passion these guys have for sailing together with their rock stars. This is a unique sport in sailing because you can sail against your idol. The sailors get a mix of fast racing and glamour. Races are getting more demanding every year. This means that top sailors expect a flawless race course.
There are many backgrounds for boat owners. Two brothers, Edoardo and Vanni Pavesio, participated in Scarlino’s event with their own yacht. They have been sailing together for many decades. Vanni and Edoardo Pavesio come from the Tenuta Pavesio1843 winery in Cocconato, in the Piemonte area of Italy. Their tenuta produces organic wines using grapes such as Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Moscato as well as honey made from lavender-fed bees.
Edoardo said that while growing up, he and his family spent a part of their summers in Cocconato and the other in Alassio, Liguria. “Our father introduced us sailing and water, and we bought a small sailboat when we were 18. We have been sailing together for 25 years.
The brothers feel proud and connected at Scarlino. Following the races, a celebration at Scarlino features an awards ceremony. There is ample Ferrari Trento sparkling wines served in the Scarlino lounge, which Ioanna Marinopoulos, a renowned interior designer and nautical architect.
Claudia Tosi, Racing office manager, spoke of the benefits of technological innovation.
Since we started, ‘Races are very different. There were two classes that we used to have: Swan 45 and ClubSwan 42. Then came ClubSwan 50, and then ClubSwan 36. As the family grew, so did the excitement. We have to change our mindset. We have 11 nations represented here, while we expect 20 countries to enter the world circuit. We are testing robotic marks, GPS controlled buoys that can propel themselves into positions and then maintain that position autonomously without the aid of an anchor. This is to save time. They can save up to an hour per day. This is only a small portion of the technology available to us. The majority of technology is available onboard, with instruments that can predict weather and improve performance.
Over 55 years, more than 2,350 Swan boats were built. Ferragamo shared an anecdote that reflects the brand’s loyalty.
Nautor’s Swan wished to restore Tarantella, a wooden boat that was part of the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2016.
Ferragamo stated that a couple of workers from the factory visited us. They wanted Tarantella to be restored on a voluntary basis. However, in return, they requested to take part in the Swan Cup. They were very happy to participate in the regatta and did the renovation very well. It is amazing that the four people who restored the boat were the same builders who built it fifty years ago. The son of an original builder was the other.
The secret may be out: the calm waters and perfect sailing conditions along the Gulf of Follonica and the natural beauty around Scarlino are all signs that Tuscany’s Maremma is reviving its energy and vitality. Scarlino is still a secret, even if you think that the social events and celebrations mentioned are part of it.