Monte Argentario port Porto Santo Stefano Cala Piccola Porto Ercole Orbetello Scalo Orbetello Ansedonia Albinia L'Isolotto Isola Rossa Isola Argentaroia The Tuscan Isles
Italian Islands

The Argentario is a round and rocky promontory connected to the Tuscan mainland by two long strips of sand, but it retains the characteristics and atmosphere of the detached island it used to be. Monte Argentario became less isolated when the shallow waters began to silt up creating the two extended sand bars of Giannella and La Feniglia, which are now two long sandy beaches backed by thick maritime pines and separated by the Lagoon of Orbetello. In 1842 the charming small town of Orbetello achieved a fixed link to Monte Argentario through the centre of the lagoon by means of a well engineered dyke. The lagoon is protected by the WWF as it is a principal wintering site for birds that nest in Europe as well as being an important part of the migratory route.

In contrast with this peaceful lagoon, the Argentario is a lush and mountainous peninsula with a mostly jagged shoreline hiding small inlets, and covered by thick Mediterranean scrub, which is occasionally interrupted by olive groves and vineyards and a carpet of pines and oaks. This irregular land mass, culminating in the peak of Monte Telegrafo, is rich in grottoes particularly where the cliffs rise steeply from the sea in the west and south and there is an abundance of fish in the waters, making it an ideal haunt for divers and underwater fishermen. There are two towns - Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole - both of which have lively harbours, plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants, and enough glitz to regularly attract the world's wealthy and elite. The promontory is covered with Medieval and Renaissance towers and there are old fortresses in both towns. In between the towns, where the land slopes more gently down to the sea, is the hamlet of Pozzarello with two sandy and shingle beaches. Heading west past Porto Santo Stefano the road is especially panoramic and winding with stunning views down to the coast and across to the island of Giglio.

The Argentario coastline is surely one of the most beautiful areas of Tuscany, with a dramatic cragginess reminiscent of parts of Sardinia. Other than the long sandy beaches of Giannella and La Feniglia, which are well-equipped with bars and other amenities, there are also several other smaller sandy beaches like, Acqua Dolce, Spiaggia Lunga and Cala del Gesso as well as rocky bathing areas like the exclusive Cala Piccola. Other gems like Cala Grande can only be reached by boat.

So if you are looking for a slice of seaside Tuscany in a less well-known destination but with plenty to do and see all year round then look no further! The Argentario offers bustling harbour towns and plenty of glitz and glamour, coupled with beautiful natural landscapes, a mild climate and several historical and cultural monuments. What's more, the fact that it is connected to the mainland by road means that you are practically on the doorstep of Tuscany's famous landmarks and quaint hilltop towns and Italy's magnificent capital city is under two hours drive. A train service from nearby Orbetello Scalo also means day excursions to Rome are an easy option. Ferries leave several times a day for the enchanting island of Giglio and less often to the small island of Giannutri and mini-cruises can be booked to visit some of the other islands in the Tuscan Archipelago.

Orbetello, Giannella and La Feniglia.

These are the three gateways to the Argentario. In the centre is the charming small town of Orbetello in the middle of the lagoon attaching the Argentario to the Maremma coast by a manmade dyke and a splendid triple-arched gate, a relic of its Spanish history. It is an important small town of Etruscan origin, rich in history and monuments. From the16th century onwards it was a place of great military significance and this explains the many strong fortifications. It is surrounded by the fish-rich lagoon, also home to many species of bird and it boasts wonderful views across to Monte Argentario. Within old walls are picturesque streets and squares and a variety of restaurants, pizzerias and bars. A great time to come is at the lively hour of the passeggiata where everyone gets dressed in their finest and parades up and down the high street past the cafés and cocktail bars. At the other side of Orbetello is the newer small town of Orbetello Scalo, which is connected by train to Grosseto and Rome.

Giannella is a long sandy beach connecting the north of the peninsula to the mainland near Albinia and Talamone. It is a good beach for families with lots of water sports facilities and it is lined with bathing establishments. La Feniglia is a 6km long pine-shadowed stretch of fine white sands that connects the south of the Argentario to Ansedonia on the Tuscan mainland. Cars are not allowed on the road that runs down the middle of the dunes, which means it is a great area for cycling. The beach is gently shelving with warm shallow waters and there are a few bars and other facilities at the entrance, while the other end of the beach is backed by a protected nature reserve.

Porto Santo Stefano

Porto Santo Stefano is the largest town on Monte Argentario and is the seat of public administration. It is situated in a picturesque bay with terracotta and cream-coloured houses populating the hillside. The town has busy streets with plenty of restaurants and a bustling old port as well as a chic marina boasting fabulous luxury yachts. The rendezvous of wealthy Italians from Rome and Northern Italy, Porto Santo Stefano has a couple of small bathing establishments , a pleasant promenade and some excellent fish markets lining the main port. Connections leave from here for the islands of Giglio and Giannutri. The town also contains an important Mediterranean Aquarium with tanks that recreate the typical ecosystem of the Argentario coastline - the Silver Coast. There is an old part to Porto Santo Stefano but a lot of buildings had to be reconstructed after bombings in the Second World War. As a result the town has a more modern feel to it but there is an impressive early 17th Century fortress to be visited that was built under the Spanish domination.

Porto Ercole

Porto Ercole, located on the east coast of the Argentario is a picturesque small seaside town whose inhabitants are descended from Neapolitan fishermen. The town is set around a sheltered bay with a natural harbour. This picturesque 16th Century port is lined with bars and restaurants and is a smart and fashionable centre, altogether calmer and more low-key than the larger Porto Santo Stefano. The old town, entered through an old Sienese gate and clock tower, is a maze of lanes and stairways that lead down to the port. It contains a plaque that claims that the famous painter Caravaggio died from malaria here in July 1610. Four fortresses, a testament to the period of Spanish domination, overlook the town and are well worth a visit - particularly Forte Stella. The latter's impressive fortifications are star-shaped and its high position affords sweeping views across to La Feniglia beach on one side and down to Porto Ercole's harbour on the other. The bay adjacent to Porto Ercole is Cala Galera where there is a modern tourist harbour home to several luxury boats and motor-yachts.

Cala Piccola, Cala del Gesso
& the Argentarola

Following the panoramic road west from Porto Santo Stefano takes you to the wilder, less developed part of the island, affording wonderful views of the dramatic coastline along the way. Here there are beautiful unspoilt beaches; some sandy, some with pebbles and others with flat rocks to jump or dive off. These less busy beaches are more difficult to reach by foot, usually down steep inclines or sets of stairs built into the hillside and some can only be reached by boat. As well as views across to Giglio Island, visitors can also admire the striking offshore islet of Argentarola with a private rocky beach in front. Cala del Gesso is a particularly panoramic beach set in a residential area made up of private villas, although it is accessible to the public. Cala Piccola is one of the most exclusive locations in Monte Argentario, where the wealthy and the famous have their holiday villas. The small beach is private to those staying in the nearby villas and is well-serviced with amenities. It has a small patch of sand and otherwise has flat rock platforms from which to swim.

Property Rentals in the Argentario
La Terrazza dei Gabbiani - Porto Santo Stefano
Sleeps: 4 Bedrooms: 2 Bathroom: 1 Beach: 100m Town centre: 400m
Sea view Terrace Communal bbq Air conditioning Washing machine
Casetta Cantarella - Porto Ercole
Sleeps: 5 Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2 Beach: 1km In town centre
Port view Balcony Dishwasher Air conditioning Washing machine
Villa La Corniche - Cala Piccola
Sleeps: 6 Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 2 Beach: 1km Town centre: 6km
Sea view Garden Terrace Barbecue Air conditioning
Il Ramerino - Cala Piccolao
Sleeps: 4+2 Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2 Beach: 1km Town centre: 6km
Washing machine Dishwasher Sea/countryside view Ceiling fan Garden & Terraces
Casa sulla Scogliera - Cala Piccola, The Argentario
Sleeps: 7/8 Bedrooms: 3/4 Bathrooms: 2/3 Beach: 150m Village centre: 1.6km
Island view Garden/terrace Air conditioning Washing machine Satellite TV & DVD
Casa Bluarancione - Cala del Gesso
Sleeps: 4 Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2 Beach: 500m Town centre: 6km
Sea view Shared pool Terrace Air conditioning Satellite TV
Casa Alice - I Due Pini
Sleeps: 5+2 Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2 Beach: 300m Town centre: 1.8km
Sea view Shared pool Terrace Air conditioning Dishwasher
© 2005-2012 Italian Islands Ltd
Call us on 0845 0944 309