It could be the island that is no more. Yes, because the promontory of Argentario it was once an island. Then, let’s talk about a few thousand years ago, the sea, the currents and fate decided differently and pushed the sand forming the bobbinsthose tongues of earth and sand that now connect it to the coast together with the dam wanted by Grand Duke Leopold to tie Orbetello to this former Tuscan island, in the Grosseto Maremma, Which by the way, each guide of the Argentario he will tell you, it has a history as old as those tomboli that connected it with the mainland.
In fact, they fished in these parts the Greeks when again Rome was to discover the capital of the world at the time but then participated in fights and skirmishes passing by Florentines to the Sienese garlic Spanish who decided to make it a fortress. This can still be understood today by seeing what remains of the towers and forts used to watch the sea.
Guide to the Argentario: sea in front and behind
Look at the sea but, extravagance, here the water is on two sides. In fact, behind the two strips of sand, one has formed lagoon which is also a protected area that can be visited by boat. But consider that in the deepest point there are just two meters of water and that these waters are rich in fine fish such as sea bream, mullet and sea bass and that large flocks of birds nest. Not during the summer: but between autumn and spring the blue is tinged with pink due to the presence of flamingos. But we go further and discover the towns on the promontory. The starting point will almost certainly be Port Herculesa seaside village inhabited since Etruscan times and today included in the list of most beautiful villages in Italy.
On the sea they stand out fishing boats while passing through the Porta Pisana you enter the heart of the village with small streets and ancient buildings including the palace of the rulers, once the residence of powerful lords arrived from Spainin Santa Barbara Square where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the port. But if you really want to let your gaze go, you have to go up again towards the Rocca Aldobrandescaborn starting from the Middle Ages and dominating the entire Argentario promontory, or towards i forts Filippo, Stella and Santa Caterinanot far from the town, with their majestic walls and cannons still pointing towards the sea.
The capital: Porto Santo Stefano
But our Argentario guide continues and leads us to Port Santo Stefanothe capital of this municipality scattered on the promontory a dozen km from Port Hercules and about ten Orbetello. Its role as capital derives from the role it played in the past and its history is full of legacies: the Romans settled here and over time the Sienese before the Spanish and French before entering the Grand Duchy of Tuscany is in the Kingdom of Italy. Such a legacy would suggest a great wealth of palaces and monuments but it is not so. Since, unfortunately, the bombings of 1944 they practically leveled it to the ground. And it was reborn from the ruins.
The Giugiaro waterfront
But don’t expect to be disappointed: on the contrary, as soon as you arrive by car, the view from above fills your gaze and the rest can be discovered by walking along the Port of the Valleyfrom where the ferries leave for Giannutri and the Lily, and even more on the seafront of the Navigators. The waterfronts are almost always full of charm but in this case there is more: this space comes from a project by the great Giorgietto Giugiaro and now it’s the right place to choose one of the many restaurants where you can taste the sea or enjoy an aperitif at sunset.
The alternative is instead to continue to the end of the seafront, where the district square and choose the right place for your evening here. In both cases the atmosphere will be special and the sea at a stone’s throw. So much so that it makes you want to take a dip. A leap into the sea that every guide to the Argentario will remind you of, you will dream of after having climbed uphill to the Spanish fortress which dates back to the mid-1500s and still tells today how much the Argentario was a kind of grim military space. And it is so strange to think of it in the holiday atmosphere that we live today.
A fortress high above the sea
The fortress is located on a hill where one opens square structure on two levels which housed warehouses, spaces for soldiers and above all the gun emplacements which they had to defend against attacks from the sea. Today everything is different and inside there are two exhibitions that tell the story the history of the shipbuilders dell’Argentario and reveal the archaeological finds found by divers under this sea.
Sea, fortresses, history; the Argentario guide is not finished. And we continue the journey towards Orbetello which contains all these ingredients. Indeed, the town is located in the middle of the lagoonwhich divides into two parts, obviously of Ponente and Levante, and is characterized by walls that date back to the night of the times but have been reinforced by the usual Spaniards. In addition, here the ballet of the rulers and their lords seems even richer than usual given that the papacy gave it as a legacy to an abbey and then to nobles such as the Aldobrandeschi and the Orsini. To then change hands between Siena, Spaniards, kingdom of NaplesTuscany and finally, finally, the kingdom of Italy.
The mill and the Spanish palaces
All this has instilled in the town, which was obviously inhabited by fishermen, a special style which is summarized in Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta: it stands on the remains of a Roman temple and then, between 1200 and 1300, expanded and rebuilt several times to please the lord of the moment while the sign of political power is found in the governor’s palace, residence of the Spanish governor in Garibaldi square where do you pass from Plebiscite square and then in corso Italia, the street for walking and where you go to see and be seen. Speaking of seeing: not to be missed, and impossible not to see, there is the Spanish mill the symbol of Orbetello.
It is located in the middle of the lagoon water, not far from the coast, where it begins the dam that connects it to the Argentario, and it is the only one left among the nine that were used in Spanish times. To admire this graceful mill you have to reach the western end of Orbetello where the dam that leads up to the Argentario begins.
A stop at the beach
But, after so much exploring, it’s time to relax and the most obvious place is the beach: the Argentario guide will tell you that the beaches are many and beautiful and there is something for all tastes. But wanting to point out the most famous, one cannot fail to mention the beach of Fenigliamaybe the most famous and photographed. It’s over long six kilometers and it is spread on the tombolo, that is the strip of sand that connects the coast with the former island. Behind it is the Pinewood, in front of the clear sand and the shallow and calm sea. Here nature seems unaware of the intrusiveness of men.
If you want then white sand wrapped in greenery you can choose Long beach located on the south coast of the Argentario. To get there, go along the street of Porto Ercole and then, after a few kilometres, leave the car and walk for about twenty minutes on a fairly steep path. But the panorama repays the effort.
Finally we close this small list of beaches by quoting the Sweet water beach which can be reached with a comfortable walk of about a hundred meters from the road on the east side of the Argentario. The beach is very nice with blue sea and sand and white stones but it’s also small so it’s often crowded. But on the other hand, how can one be surprised if people choose such a beautiful place?