A corner of paradise where rich history and wild nature meat in a unique environment
Located in the south of Tuscany, the peninsula of Monte Argentario is in the province of Grosseto. A long time ago, this charming gem used to be an island. However, the currents of the Tyrrhenian sea and the Albegna river joined it with the mainland through the Giannella Tombolo and the Feniglia Tombolo. These two 6 km long stretches of land form the Orbetello Lagoon and house long sandy beaches, pine forests, and Mediterranean scrub.
The unique biodiversity of 300 hectares of the salty lagoon, on the Giannella Tombolo, is protected by the WWF Oasis of Orbetello. Here, from different birdwatching hideouts and an environmental education center, it is possible to see thousands of birds. Among them the over 200 species, there are majestic pink flamingos, white herons, and the rare tiger beetle Cicindela majalis.
The town of Orbetello of Etruscan origin is located on a third strip of land, between the two that embrace the lagoon.
The best spots from which to admire all the beauty of Orbetello and its Lagoon are the Convent of Frati Passionisti and Punta Telegrafo. The latter is the highest peak of Monte Argentario – 2,083 ft above sea level – and its most panoramic point. From there it is possible to see the islands of Elba, Giglio, Giannutri, Montecristo and, on particularly clear days, even Corsica.
The two main towns of Monte Argentario are Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole, two ancient fishing villages overlooking the sea. Porto San Stefano but is much more of a tourist center, with lively nightlife, numerous restaurants, and fashion outlets, as well as a harbor full of luxury yachts.
Recently designer Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the appearance of the modern waterfront, but in 1610, Caravaggio died here while awaiting a pardon for murder from the Papal court. Thus, present and future meet in this charming place. Porto Ercole, on the other hand, still maintains the appearance of an old marina. The alleys of the old town are still enclosed by walls and they lead to Santa Barbara square which overlooks the harbor. Here, as in Porto Santo Stefano, there are impressive Spanish fortifications built for defensive purposes.
(Ilona Catani Scarlett)