The outstanding promontory of the Argentario stretches out 12 kilometres from the coast, joined to the mainland by the sandy stretches of Giannella and Feniglia and the dam of Orbetello, in the south of Tuscany. An entirely mountainous area, its peak is Monte Telegrafo, 635m: it has high rocky cliffs to the west while it gently falls towards the creek of Porto Santo Stefano.
It is covered by the typical Mediterranean woodland and amongst the various essences the famous dwarf palm which is a native plant is worth mentioning. It is also full of olive trees, vineyards and fruit trees.
In Etruscan times, it was the harbour of the city of “Cosa”, of great importance at the time, and today it is possible to visit its remains on land.
In the Roman era, it belonged to the “gente Domizia” who were “Argentarii”, that is, money-lenders from where it got its name.
Once under the domain of Siena in 1401, it was covered with watchtowers and fortified castles, and evidence of this can still be seen in the remarkable Spanish fortresses of Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano.
Several fishermen families from Liguria and Naples settled here during those times and they continued their activities in the centuries giving a particular characteristic to the local language.
Today Argentario is a tourist destination especially for those who love the sea and underwater fishing, thanks to its clear waters which gave it the “Bandiera blu” recognition in 2013. But it also possible to go for long walks and bike rides along quiet paths, revealing new landscapes and historic and artistic testimonies at every corner in a most fascinating blend.
The main towns are Orbetello, with its beautiful lagoon and interesting artistic testimonies, the fishing port of Porto Ercole dominated by the majestic Rocca (in 1601, the great painter Michelangelo Merisi also called Caravaggio died upon a beach close by) and Porto Santo Stefano from where the ferries for the islands of Giglio and Giannutri sail.
Fishing is still one of the main activities, making sure that the fresh products on the market end upon the tables of the most important restaurants. Part of the local fishermen’s traditional dishes are “il caldaro”, a typical fish soup, “lo scaveccio” pickled fried fish and “la tonnina” salted and dried tuna fillets. To better appreciate the flavours of the Argentario it is a must to taste the wines “Ansonico e Riminese”, rare vines grown in the terraced vineyards along the hillsides of the promontory.More