What to see in Tuscany Argentario area
MAIN ATTRACTIONS IN ARGENTARIO AREA
- Whale Sanctuary
- Natual Reserve of Orbetello Lagoon
- Grotta Azzurra (cavern)
- Stella Fortress
- Ercole Fortress
- Porto Santo Stefano
- Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello e Giglio Campese
- Cala Maestra and Cala Spalmatoio – Giannutri island
- Mediterranean Aquarium of Costa dell’Argento
- Archaeological site of Città di Cosa
- Oratory of San Biagio and Tagliata Etrusca
Province of Grosseto:
Porto Santo Stefano (Monte Argentario municipality)
Fonteblanda e Talamone (Orbetello municipality),
Giannutri Island (Giglio Island municipality)
Monte Argentario is a promontory that juts into the Tyrrhenian Sea at the two islands of the Tuscan Archipelago (Giglio and Giannutri). Also the Argentario was originally an island, but over the centuries the joint action of ocean currents and the Albegna river debris created two tomboli (Giannella and Feniglia) which joined the island to the mainland, forming at the same time, the Orbetello lagoon. The promontory, entirely mountainous and characterized by high and rocky coasts, is covered by dense Mediterranean vegetation, alternating with fruit tree crops. The Monte Argentario reaches its highest point at Punta Telegrafo (635 meters). The highly indented coastline is full of coves and bays, predominantly rocky and of considerable beauty from a naturalistic point of view. Unspoiled and isolated beaches, bathed by a crystalline sea have to be reached preferably in boat.
The Argentario is preferred spot for nautical tourism and water sports: it is one of the classic destinations for both diving enthusiasts and for marine biology fans. The very irregular coastline offers many different dive sites: walls, caves, shoals and wrecks in a sea rich of life. For example, between Irene and Punta Avvoltore, on top of which stands the eponymous tower, is one of the most spectacular points of this stretch of coast, Cala dei Santi, from which you can access the famous Blue Grotto. In this area the depths vary between 5 and 40 meters. The whole area is included in the Cetacean Sanctuary as a protected natural marine area of international interest. The small islands nearby are Isoletta, Isola rossa, Argentarola, Formica di Burano, Formiche di Grosseto. Daily ferry services connect to the islands of Giglio and Giannutri.
Due to its geographical position, the Argentario was a safe landing for the first navigators. Because of its strategic position, the promontory was equipped with sighting and signaling towers to cope with the constant danger of pirate raids. The mount also kept some “historical jewels” like the Spanish forts and watchtowers at (14th century) which defended the territory against the attacks of Saracen pirates. In fact there are 10 towers and 3 strongholds well preserved. There are numerous historical and archaeological sites: Roman remains at Cosa Ansedonia and, forts, towers of late Middle Age and Renaissance a bit ‘everywhere. Of some importance is also the activity of the shipyards and shipwrights, especially in the construction of leasure boats and naval storage. The Shipyard of Porto Santo Stefano is today one of the most important Italian sites for the restoration of vintage boats and sailing ships.
The main towns are Porto Santo Stefano, the seat of the municipality of Monte Argentario, Porto Ercole, Orbetello, Ansedonia Fonteblanda and Talamone.
WHAT TO SEE
Attractions in Argentario area
Hamlets in Argentario area
ANSEDONIA (municipality of Orbetello – GR) – seaside village
It is a popular tourist resort, located on a promontory, near the Roman settlement of Cosa. Many modern buildings – luxury residences and villas – characterize thevillage, full of historical traces. Of importance is the archaeological site of Cosa, which preserves part of the Etruscan-Roman city, the Etruscan Tagliata sea channel and the Oratory of San Biagio. The church building incorporates the remains of a Roman mausoleum with three apses. According to the tradition, the chapel was founded by Armenian monks, landed with various relics, including the venerated head of San Biagio. In the 15th century the relics were taken to Siena and, consequently, the chapel lost its importance, to be completely abandoned in 1693. Also interesting is the Torre Mozza, of medieval origin. Between the end of the 19th century the first decades of the 20th, the famous musician Giacomo Puccini lived there several times and here found the inspiration for many of his compositions, including the famous opera Turandot.
FONTEBLANDA (municipality of Orbetello – GR) – seaside village
This is a modern tourist village nestled in the Natural Park of Maremma with lovely beaches such as Osa Beach and Stake. The village is located near the Gulf of Talamone. In the territory one may visit the Etruscan archaeological site of Poggio Talamonaccio.
ISOLA DEL GIGLIO (Giglio Island) (GR)
The Isola del Giglio is one of the most picturesque islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, and part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. It not by chance that it is visited by a constant flow of tourists for most of the year. There are three tvillages: Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello and Campese. The coastal perimeter is 28 kms long and is largely rocky, except for a few spots where the beaches stretch: Campese (the largest in the island), Arenella, Cannelle and Caldane. In recent times the island has become a seaside resort of international level and has a fully equipped marina. The island is known for its rich depths of walls, caves, shoals and wrecks, which offer a range of dive spots. The island is accessible by ferry from Porto Santo Stefano, in the municipality of Monte Argentario.
ISOLA GIANNUTRI (Giannutri island) (municipality of Giglio Island – GR)
Crescent-shaped, is characterized by a rocky coastline full of small and picturesque coves. The whole island is a natural reserve and a marine reserve. In particular, it is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. The island is connected with a daily ferry service from Porto Santo Stefano. Swimming is permitted only on the pebbly beaches of Cala Maestra and Cala Spalmatoio. Thanks to the rich underwater walls of gorgonians, sponges, corals and tunicates Giannutri is a point of great interest for all types of diving activities. There a few dive spots: Punta Secca, Punta San Francesco, Punta del Calettino, Cala Brigantina. Today most of the seabed was formally declared a protected area, but diving is permitted in extended seabed covered with seagrass. There are two wrecks of Anna Bianca ” (at 40-50 m depth) and ” Nasim ” (60 meters).
PORTO ERCOLE (municipality of Monte Argentario – GR) – historic seaside village
Porto Ercole is a picturesque village whose historical core is inside the walls. The houses of the fishermen village Le Grotte mirror the somehow esotic marina.
Among the notable monuments are the Palace of Spaniards Governors (16th century) in the Renaissance style, the church of St. Erasmus, the Villa Consani Garden, the Lighthouse of Porto Ercole, built in 1862 by the Navy on a castle rampart and the mighty Fortress Aldobrandesca. Outside the village, numerous fortifications dominate the headland as the Fort St. Catherine, Forte Filippo, the Tower of Mulinaccio and the charming Renaissance-style Forte Stella along the parkway. In the parish church is buried the famous painter Caravaggio, who died in Cala Galera in 1610, probably due to malaria, which at that time still infested the area.
PORTO SANTO STEFANO (municipality of Monte Argentario – GR) – historic seaside village
It is a seaside resort and administrative center of the municipality of Monte Argentario. From here you can embark for the islands of Giglio and Giannutri. The Spanish Fortress hosts the permanent exhibitions “Shipwrights”, dedicated to the assembly of trade ships and fishing boats, and “Underwater Memories”, set on the remains found in the waters around the Monte Argentario. On the seafront the Argentario Aquarium has been located.
ORBETELLO (GR) – historic seaside village
The village lies in the middle of the Orbetello Lagoon and is joined to the Monte Argentario by a road built on an artificial embankment called “The Dam”, which divides the lagoon into two separate bodies of water: “Laguna di Levante” and “Laguna di Ponente”. The district is quite varied. The lagoon area is bounded, towards the Tyrrhenian Sea, by two tomboli – Tombolo of Feniglia and Giannella – characterized by long sandy beaches, pine forests and Mediterranean scrub. The lagoon waters are rich in fish (sea bass, sea bream, mullet and eel) that is nurtured on site and sold in many markets in Italy and abroad. Currently Orbetello is one of the most important tourist centers of the Maremma. Tourism and the fishing industry are the main components of the economy. There are many attractions such as the Tower Talamonaccio, the important archaeological site of Cosa, the beautiful beaches of Talamone, the Forte delle Saline, just to name only a few of them.
TALAMONE (municipality of Orbetello – GR) – seaside village
The village is situated on a rocky promontory covered by the typical vegetation of the Maremma, the maquis. There are lovely sandy beaches, all crowned with pine forests. There are many attractions in Talamone: the Rock of Talamone, the Tower of Canelle, the Tower of Talamonaccio, the Aquarium of Lagura, the Mausoleum Vivarelli, the church of Santa Maria Assunta among the others. In recent times the village has become a popular seaside resort. The beaches are characterized by clear water, suitable for a variety of water sports (snorkeling, windsurfing, kite-surfing, etc.). The beaches of Cannon, Fertilia and Bagno delle Donne are renowned for the beauty of the seabed and the crystallinity of the water, good for sailing boats too. Talamone is also an important tourist port, from where there are organized trips to the Argentario and the two islands, Giglio and Giannutri. Finally excursions to the beaches of the Maremma Regional Park accessible only by sea. Talamone is located near the southernmost entrance to the park: some paths allow you to cross it and climb right on the ridge of picturesque Monti dell’Uccellina.
Monte Argentario is a site of regional interest. The coast of the cape is inserted in the Sanctuary of cetaceans, a marine protected natural area of international interest. The area is very important for bird conservation: there are numerous animals, as well as various rare species of nesting birds living in the cliffs. The coasts are mostly rocky, in harsh morphology, forming an area with high floristic diversity with rare species. Among other relevant environmental types there are rocky outcrops, urbanized areas and beaches with hardwood forests in the cooler valleys. The limestone arid grasslands are rich in orchids.
Type: nature preservation area with lagoon, beaches and dunes
The oasis was established in 1971 to protect a wetland, whose importance has been recognized by an international convention: it includes the largest indoor Orbetello Laguna around the Tyrrhenian Sea. The land includes a stretch of the Giannella, including beaches and dunes with vegetation typical of the coast, the Natural Reserve Laguna di Orbetello di Ponente and the Natural Reserve Duna Feniglia. The whole area is a sanctuary where over 250 species of migratory birds winter and nest. The varied wildlife is also made up of rare species such as the sea eels and flamingos.
Natural Reserve of the Lagoon of Orbetello
Municipality: Orbetello (GR) – locality Gianella
Type: nature protection area
Visitor center: Casale Gianella
It is an 8 kms long sandy strip connecting Monte Argentario to the mainland, near the village of Albinia. The vegetation is typical of the Mediterranean, plenty of bushes. The most common fauna consists of birds of prey, owls, porcupines, foxes, gulls. In the northern part of the reserve is located Casale Giannella, managed by the WWF Italy for natural purposes, educational and environmental study. Inside it houses the Environmental Education Centre “Aurelio Peccei”.
Three different routes are available inside the reserve:
1 – ornithological path exclusively dedicated to birdlife, completed by nine points for observation
2 – path of Bosco Patanella, a botanical path with points for observation of specimens of arboreal holm oak, cork, Aleppo pine and orchids.
3 – hiking trail, the longest, running through various environments (including a botanical garden), including the so-called “butterfly garden”
The visitors’ center, run by the organization WWF Italy, is situated inside the Casale Giannella. The center provides educational materials on the subject and organizes theme exhibitions.
Municipality: Orbetello (GR) – locality Feniglia
Type: protected area
The Reserve is a narrow and sand dune about 6 kms long and with an area of 600 hectares. It connects the village of Porto Ercole, at the foot of Monte Argentario, with Ansedonia. It preserves the ecosystem of the bobbin (a type of rich Mediterranean coastal forest vegetation) that covers the entire strip of land between the Argentario and the mainland, on the side facing the lagoon and on that towards the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ubiquitous are pine trees and hardwoods. Here live in absolute freedom many wild boars, deer, foxes, badgers, weasels, skunks, weasels. This area is equipped with facilities such as observation towers, observatories and trails. It also has as a rare richness of spatula flamingo specimens that live in the lagoon reeds.
Various routes, properly reported, allow you to make a visit on foot or by bicycle. A fitness trail and one with several birding observation points are available too. Along the strip overlooking the sea for about six kilometers, a fine sandy beach, with areas also frequented by naturists, is located. The painter Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio), fugitive from Rome, contracted the malaria that caused his death in 1610 in this area.
WHAT TO DO
Festivities and events
Since 1937 Palio Marinaro takes place on August 15 in Porto Santo Stefano, where four neighborhoods face off in the harbor in a rowing competition with paddle boats. The individual crews are composed of four rowers helmsmen, who must travel 10 times the distance of 400 meters for a total of 4,000 meters in 25 minutes.
Sagra dell’Anguilla – August culinary festival dedicated to the eel fish, typical of Orbetello lagoon.
Festival delle Crociere – summer festival that takes place in the historic park on the outskirts of the former seaplane base with performances of theater, dance, music and comedy.
Traditional Procession of the Risen again Christ – Easter, with a solemn blessing of the sea to the sound of sirens of the boats anchored in Porto Santo Stefano.
Pasquavela – sailing regatta organized by Porto Santo Stefano Yacht Club
Feste del Patrono S. Erasmo – 2 June, a solemn procession to the sea with illuminations and fireworks
Sagra della Fica Maschia – second and third week of August , typical local dishes festival in Porto Santo Stefano.
Possible at the two cliffs of Capo d’Uomo and Canne d’Organo.
You can practice the sport at the Argentario Golf Club in Le Piane. The park covers 77 hectares with an 18-hole championship trail set in a natural amphitheater formed by olives and Mediterranean vegetation surrounded by a beautiful scenery.
Given the location, the Argentario is a natural arena for diving. Here it is one of the most popular sports, given the variety of dive sites, the way to reach them, the natural or artificial curiosities (wrecks) to see. Easy dive for recreational diving is Punta Window, where, already at a depth of 10-15 meters you can see corals, sea fans, anemones, octopus, starfish, eels, lobsters, crabs and sunfish. The cleanliness of the sea is confirmed by the presence of large areas of seagrass, which gives stability to the land.
Cala Grande: 42°25′50.11″N 11°5′9.15″E
Argentarola: 42°25′9.75″N 11°4′51.99″E
Scoglio del Corallo: 42°24′3.60″N 11°5′28.81″E
Punta Finestra: 42°21′49.60″N 11°10′42.63″E
Cala dei Santi: 42°21′57.05″N 11°11′25.29″E
Grotta Azzurra: 42°22′14.94″N 11°11′22.84″E
Punta Naso di Papa: 42°21′45.53″N 11°11′9.52″E
Punta Avoltore: 42°21′48.21″N 11°11′27.28″E
Scoglio sommerso: 42°21′48.02″N 11°10′47.99″E
Secca di capo d’uomo: 42°23′32.92″N 11°5′48.88″E
Punta del Bove: 42°24′40.12″N 11°5′26.95″E
Cacciarella (statua del Cristo): 42°26′24.93″N 11°5′46.07″E
Secca di Mezzo Canale: 42°19′51.22″N 11°5′39.63″E
Recreational diving island of Giglio
Punta del Fenaio
Scoglio della Cappa
Secca della Croce
Punta Capel Rosso
Punta di San Francesco
Punta del Calettino
Parete di Cala Brigantina
Sailing and fishing
The stretch of sea off the Argentario is internationally valid for the practice of sailing. Among the most important regattas: Pasquavela and Sailing Week, organized by Santo Stefano Yacht Club. Even the activities fishing from a boat is practiced throughout the Argentario coast.
Itineraries in the Argentario area
1. Southeast Coast Route
The south-eastern coastline of the Argentario is between the Tombolo of Feniglia to the northeast and Punta di Torre Ciana south-west, where there is the eponymous tower. Along this stretch is the tourist resort of Porto Ercole. The coastline begins north-east by the Punta Pertuso, which closes to the west the Tombolo of Feniglia, and delimits north Cala Galera, where there is the eponymous harbor, in turn closed south from Mount Philip, whose summit rises. Forte Filippo and sloping on the eastern slopes is the Fort St. Catherine. To the south of Mount Philip opens the bay of Porto Ercole with Porto Vecchio, located south of the Poggio of Biche on which is situated the aldobrandesca Rocca: this is precisely the most easterly point of the entire Argentario peninsula. The eastern slopes of the Poggio delle Biche slope more gently to the south of the fortress, leaving little space but quaint beach of the Views Beach, which faces east fronted with its unique shape dell’Isolotto, interrupting a long stretch of higher coasts and everywhere rocky: the sand has a characteristic ocher color.
The south-western slopes of the Poggio Biche are joined in the southeastern of Mount Telegraph (peak of 635 meters s.l.m.) from the town of Lo Sbarcatello, dominated by the imposing Porto Ercole. At the aforementioned web site, develops Long Beach, facing south-east, characterized by the presence of sand mixed with pebbles, which breaks the previous stretch of high and rocky coasts. Proceeding south-west, the coast takes for a high, rocky stretch, until you reach the suggestive Water Beach Dolce, with pebbly and sandy, which also faces toward the east, and is closed to the south by the hill Irene from where begins another stretch of high rocky coast, with slopes quite steep. To the south-west of Punta Avvoltore opens wide rocky bay, where is also located a small cove called Cala Piazzoni (too rocky), formed by pendicisud-eastern Poggio del Cane and Poggio Canaloni. The above ends with the bay of Punta Ciana Tower, located where the eponymous tower, which is the last slope of Poggio Mouth of Hell: this is precisely the most southern point of the Argentario area.
2. South West Coast
The south-west coast of the Argentario peninsula is divided between Punta di Torre Ciana southeast and Punta Capo d’Uomo north-west, on top of which stands the homonym tower. Proceeding from the southeast to the northwest, the coastal stretch leaves behind Punta di Torre Ciana and Poggio Bocca dell’Inferno, that close to the south feature Cala del Purgatorio, which opens at the point where the western slopes of Poggio Canaloni descend more gently. Going north-west, the coast takes most rocky, partly interrupted by the Valletta degli Acquastrini that separates the northern slope of Poggio Canaloni from that of Poggio Bocche Grandi, on whose western slopes overlooking the sea rises the Torre delle Cannelle , north of which opens the beach of Cannelle, the only one of this tract to present mixed sands with gravel and pebbles.
After another rocky stretch, you will reach a small bump peninsular that juts out into the sea, in front of which is the characteristic Isola Rossa, while continuing along the coast you will immediately come across a small creek called The Scorpacciate. Besides the small bay, the continued high coast, rocky and sometimes very steep. It get to the Tower of Magdalene, beyond which the coast continues indented until you reach Punta della Maddalena and the Capo d’Uomo peninsula.
3. West Coast Path
The west coast of the Argentario peninsula develops between Punta Capo d’Uomo south and Punta Lividonia north, near which stands the homonym tower. Just the above aims is the northernmost point of the entire promontory. Proceeding from south to north, he leaves behind Punta Capo d’Uomo, with depths up to 40 meters underwater, and very jagged coast continues, with Cala Piccola that opens rocky, closed north from Punta Cala Piatti. Directly at the beginning of this cove it is deep into the picturesque Coral Reef, of which he is very rich, which contains a series of underwater caves at depths up to 30 meters. Further north along the coast is Punta del Bove, which closes south Cala del Bove, that north is separated in turn from Cala del Gesso from Punta del Gesso. Near the first of these bays is the famous Grotta del Bove .In addition the nearby Cala del Gesso, closed north from Punta Cala Moresca, Cala Moresca opens, overlooked by the coastal tower. In the sea in front of the latter two bays is clearly visible the shape Argentarola Island, where there is another characteristic cave.
To the north of Cala Moresca The coast continues rocky and steep, up to Punta Cala Grande, place of location of the homonymous tower later transformed into a lighthouse. The above tip, sloping western bulge of Poggio Spadino, to the south of a large bay where is also located Cala Grande, whose northern limits consist of Punta Cacciarella, also based in the past of a tower. Punta Cacciarella, sloping foothills northwest of Monte Spaccabellezze, to the south of CalaCacciarella, which in turn is bordered to the north by Punta Monaco, beyond which a jagged coastline leading to Punta Lividonia, the northernmost point of the entire Argentario promontory, also based homonym watchtower. The various caves found along this stretch are rocky, with rocks in some places appear larger and other smaller.
4. North Coast Path
The northern coast of the Argentario peninsula is divided between Punta Lividonia north-west and the mouth of the Canal of Santa Liberata east. Along this stretch of coastline overlooking the resort town of Porto Santo Stefano, where the town hall is located in Monte Argentario. Proceeding from west to east, the coast is high and rocky Lividonia between Punta and Punta della Madonnetta, bordering west the town of Porto Santo Stefano. The coastal stretch that overlooks the town, has a waterfront promenade that joins the urban street. Continuing along that direction is encountered before the Old Port of Porto Santo Stefano, touristic mooring, and after another stretch of promenade Porto del Valle, the departure point for ferries to the island of Giglio and Giannutri, to which I am attached to the restricted area to fishing vessels and the shipyards.
Beyond the area of the main port, the coast becomes high again and rock, along which you meet the peninsulas of Punta Nera and Calvello, where he was originally a tower. The latter closes offshoot west of Cala Pozzarello, situated in the locality, marked by gray gravel and facing north. On top of the hill that rises behind the aforementioned cove lies the Fort Pozzarello, military structure built in the late nineteenth and the beginning of the last century. To the east of Cala Pozzarello, another trait of most rocky coast to the village of Santa Liberata, lies on the last slopes down to the sea, near which are the remains of a Roman villa in the Bay called Baths of Domitian. The top of the hill overlooking the latter from the immediate hinterland area is called The Pianone. A little further east you open the mouth of the Santa Liberata Canal, bounded on the south by the northern slopes of the Argentario peninsula and north from sandy strip of Giannella: on this stretch begins the northeastern coast of the Argentario, wet brackish waters of the Lagoon of Orbetello.
Argentario cuisine is mainly based on fisheries products, in particular appreciated seafood products of the Orbetello lagoon (sea bass, sea bream, mullet, eels), as well as on crops from the terraced areas of the promontory. Among the most used in the tradition of the area there is a kind of local fish, tasty but poor, called “Pussy manly”, which is mainly used dried. Typical dishes are: Caldaro – typical soup of fish in the area; Scaveccio – poor fish fried pickles preserved; Tuna – composed of salted and dried tuna loin. Among the wines produced in the Argentario area stands the DOC Ansonica Argentario Coast and the Rimini area.
Film and culture
The Argentario, is considered an ideal location for film and television. From action movies to the classic Italian comedy, the cape, for its natural beauty it has often been used in many Italian and international productions. Among the most important films: Ulysses by Mario Camerini with Silvana Mangano and Kirk Douglas, 1954, The mine, in 1958 by Giuseppe Bennati, Spasm, the 1974 movie by Umberto Lenzi, I make the boat, the 1980 Sergio Corbucci, 80 years classic Italian comedy, the talented Mr. Ripley, 1999, Anthony Minghella, the summer of my first kiss, 2006 by Carlo Virzi, canticle of Mary Magdalene, 2011 Mauro Campiotti biopic on the life of Mary Magdalene of the Incarnation was born in 1770 in Porto Santo Stefano.
Porto Vecchio di Porto Santo Stefano – tourist landing.
Porto di Santa Liberata – small mooring along the canal that separates the Argentario promontory from tombolo Giannella.
Porto di Cala Galera to Porto Ercole – modern and famous tourist port.
Porto Vecchio di Porto Ercole – ancient port, originally fishermen, who later became tourist mooring.
Porto di Punta Ala – modern and famous tourist port.
Porto di Castiglione della Pescaia – tourist port.