Monte Argentario is a magnificent headland surrounded by the sea and connected to the coast by two artificial strips of land, the Orbetello dam and the tombolo di Gianella. The municipality covers a wide area, including much of the south of the Grossetan Maremma; Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole are its two main centres.
Monte Argentario attracts tourists for its unique landscape, its marine environment and its exceptionally mild climate, which makes it an ideal holiday destination for most of the year.
A holiday resort known for its numerous beaches and coves, it is also rich in history. Well-known and much-frequented for centuries, many historical jewels have been preserved and are scattered throughout the region.
The picturesque seaside resort of Porto Santo Stefano overlooks the northern side of the peninsula. Particularly beloved are the promenade along the seafront, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, and the port, where you can feel the genuine seafaring soul of the town. From here you can also explore the nearby Giglio Island.
The most iconic monument of Porto Santo Stefano is the Spanish Fortress, built for defensive purposes and to serve as the Governor's Palace. It is now home to the permanent exhibitions of Submerged Memories, with archaeological relics found in its seabed, and Masters of the Axe, dedicated to the old manufacturers of ships and boats for fishermen.
There are a plethora of possible places to go trekking and mountain biking; in the inner part of the headland there are many paths that ascend from the sea into the midst of abundant Mediterranean scrubland, offering breathtaking views of rare beauty. Amidst the greenery of Monte Argentario you can visit the Convent of Frati Passionisti, a fascinating sanctuary built in 1737 by San Paolo della Croce.
Monte Argentario has countless beaches and coves: among them is the nearby Giannella Beach with its fine, light sand and cobalt blue sea. Cala del Gesso and Cala Grande, beautiful but not well-equipped, are perfect to relax off the beaten track.
In a specular position south of Mount Argentario is Porto Ercole, which has been recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy since 2004. Wandering through narrow alleyways you will find the oldest part of town where the church of Sant’Erasmo is located, in which the tombs of the Spanish rulers are kept.
The entrance is surmounted by the Clock Tower, where an inscription tells us that the great Caravaggio lived there for the last part of his life, on the run from his problems with the law. There is great mystery surrounding his death, which took place here on July 18, 1610: sailing from Naples in a felucca, the painter arrived, dying, on the Feniglia beach, and was then hospitalized in the Church of Sant’Erasmo. His remains – which were never identified - were buried in the old cemetery of San Sebastiano, where the centre of the new village stands today.
In addition to its natural beauty, the charm of Porto Ercole derives from the imposing Spanish fortresses that were built in the sixteenth century under the Governors: Forte Filippo, la Rocca and Forte Stella are three perfectly preserved fortifications from which you can admire the wonderful views of the sea.
It’s impossible not to appreciate Porte Ercole’s beautiful sea: from the splendid Feniglia beach to the many coves along the entire headland’s coast, all are reachable from here.
One particular reason to visit this remote paradise is the Palio Marinaro dell’Argentario, which has been held every August since 1937. The competition between the four quarters of the village evokes the region’s strong bond with the sea.
The southern Maremma is an untouched land, which has been left to be overrun by the most uncontaminated nature: that of the Mediterranean scrub with its intoxicating scents from the hills to the sea. The Maremma Natural Park, a green oasis of 9,000 hectares that extends along the coast between Principina a Mare and Talamone in the municipalities of Grosseto, Magliano in Toscana and Orbetello, is not to be missed.
A stone’s throw away is the Orbetello lagoon, one of the most pristine natural areas in Tuscany which represents a unique habitat.
From Monte Argentario, you can also visit one of the most famous seaside resorts of the entire Tuscan coast: Castiglione della Pescaia.
The Palio Marinaro is a folk event that takes place in Porto Santo Stefano every year on August 15. It is a regatta in which the four quarters of the town - Pilarella, Valle, Croce and Fortezza - compete in a rowing race in the harbour’s waters. The anticipation of the challenge, the competitive atmosphere and above all the huge levels of participation make it an event that is always looked forward to and enjoyed to the full.
In terms of food and wine, the local cuisine manages to combine authentic flavours of both land and sea. But it is undeniably the sea that provides the fundamental ingredient for the local dish par excellence: fish soup.
Originally made by fishermen aboard fishing boats with their catch of the day, it is the region’s typical dish.