Orbetello has a truly unique geographic position: it’s actually a strip of land in the middle of the lagoon (bearing the same name) in southern Tuscany. Famous for its beautiful long beaches and bay, its surrounding areas have much to offer. Orbetello is linked to Monte Argentario by a road called Diga Leopoldina, built in 1841 along an artificial embankment, which divided the lagoon into two parts: “Laguna di Levante” and “Laguna di Ponente”, known respectively as Tombolo della Feniglia and Tombolo della Giannella.
What to see and do in Orbetello and surroundings? Here is a list of 10 things!
1. The be�aches
Orbetello is a popular seaside destination. Among the beaches that deserve a mention there’s Feniglia, which runs along the strip of land that connects the Argentario promontory to the mainland and extends in a stretch of fine white sand surrounded by a rich pine forest and Mediterranean scrub, a protected area that is home to several species of animals. Along the long beach there are also well-equipped beaches for those looking to sunbathe in comfort.
Another beach worth mentioning is Giannella, a sand dune similar to Feniglia, situated along a provincial road with many access points to the sea. The beach, mostly free, is equipped with bathing facilities and parking. It is particularly suitable for sailing sports as it faces north winds. The town of Orbetello has created a path to facilitate disabled access to the public beach from inside the “Dune della Feniglia” State Nature Reserve.
Read more in this post.
2. The lagoon
Orbetello Lagoon is one of the most uncontaminated natural areas in Tuscany. The lagoon consists of 1,500 hectares of marshland separated from the sea on the west and east by two strips of land of 6km, each connected to the promontory of the Monte Argentario, just in front of Orbetello. The town is situated in the middle of the lagoon on a third strip that stretches into the water.
3. Nature Reserve of the “Laguna di Orbetello”
WWF Italy manages part of the nature reserve in the lagoon, where many rare birds migrate and nest, such as the pink flamingo and white heron. Talking about flora and fauna we can say that the waters of the lagoon are brimming in fish, like bream, eels and snapper, and the plant life consists of a coastal pine tree woods, typical Mediterranean scrub vegetation as well as several varieties of juniper, myrtle, holm oaks and many more species.
4. The town centre
You can walk along the Corso as far as Piazza del Plebiscito, home to the town hall, and continue until you reach Piazza Garibaldi, with the Spanish Governor’s Palace (built in the 17th century). There is also the little church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Piazza IV Novembre, where you can admire a fifth-century fresco of the Sienese school and a beautiful Cathedral, renovated in 1375.
5. The traces of the past
The Etruscans were the first to settle in Orbetello, as the remains of a polygonal city wall demonstrate. It was dominated by the Roman Empire as testified by the name Orbetello, although this is still under discussion (Orvelus, Urva Tellus or Urbis Tellus meaning “Circular city, city of herbs or city of Rome”). Because of its particular geographical position, Orbetello has always been a desirable conquest until it came under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
6. An amazing view over the city
To enjoy an amazing view of Orbetello, reach the Passionist monastery, which is located on the Monte Argentario at an altitude of 273 meters. To reach it, follow the road in the direction of Porto Santo Stefano and turn toward the "Convento Frati Passionisti."
7. Camping in Orbetello
Orbetello is an ideal destination for those who love to camp, thanks to its well-equipped campsite surrounded by large pine forests and Mediterranean scrub. Camping is an excellent solution for those who want to live a deep contact with nature and also for who wants to enjoy playing sports.
Don't forget to visit the beaches and the various coves of the promontory of Monte Argentario. You can also go to the islands of Giglio and Giannutri and rent boats for excursions in search of small coves accessible only by the sea.
8. Local cuisine
The principal resource of Orbetello has always been fishing, so the uniqueness of the cuisine of Orbetello is due to the wide variety of fish that live in the lagoon. There are shrimp, sea bass, sea bream, oysters, mullets and eels. Very popular are the mullet fillets, "spaghetti alla bottarga" (dried mullet or tuna eggs and grated over pasta) and “anguille sfumate”, eels dressed in salt, ashes and vinegar. Meat lovers can taste all the typical products of the Maremma accompanied by excellent white and red wines.
Among the events worth mentioning in Orbetello are the "Festival of the Cruise" (art and music with national and international artists) and the "Film Festival" (international festival of short films). There are also theatre performances in the ruins of the ancient city of Cosa. Sports fans can follow the "International Women's Tennis Tournament". During the summer, the “Festival of the Presidi”, with its wealth of well-organized and varied cultural activities, is worth taking in. Finally, remember the "Antiques Market," held every first weekend of the month throughout the year.
10. Around Orbetello
Orbetello’s surroundings offer a wealth of characteristic places like the port of Talamone, a picturesque and lonely fishing village, gathered on a rocky promontory around an ancient fortress dating to the fifteenth century and from which you have a superb panoramic view of the coast and islands.
Visit also the town of Ansedonia has great archaeological importance and is a modern and popular holiday destination in the south of Tuscany. Here were uncovered archaeological remains of the city of Cosa, an important Roman colony of the third century BCE.