The Argentario, an ancient island bound to the coast during the centuries through three strips of sandy land, is a rocky promontory, dominated by Monte Telegrafo (635 metres). The ring road along the coast is 39 km long. At intervals it is dug out and from there you can enjoy a wonderful view and you can see suggestive inlets where the colour of the see is blue, turquoise and sometimes cobalt blue.
The coasts is characterized by gulfs, oxbows and small bays. The promontory is covered by a thick Mediterranean vegetation and by the growing of citrus trees, olive trees and vines. The Southern part of the Tuscan coast is dominated by the great promontory and the islands of Giglio, Giannutri, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa and Gorgona.
At Monte Telegrafo you can also visit the Monastery, built in the XVIII° century by San Paolo della Croce when Maremma was overpowered by corsair, malaria and by a death and silent atmosphere. San Paolo wanted to build the Monastery as a mark of spirituality and civilization. Going up you can find the San Giuseppe Novitiate that once upon a time gave hospitality to the novices. The top of Monte Argentario, Punta Telegrafo, is the summit of an itinerary of great suggestion, an itinerary that instils deep sensation of peace.
Giannella Dune is 6 km long and around 300 meters large, it extends from Monte Argentario to Albegna river's outlet. It was created by the sediment of sand of the river.
Fauna is very reach of predatories, owls and foxes.
The vegetation is constituted of myrtle, orange-blossom etc.
Wildlife reserve Feniglia Dune
Since the end of 1700, Feniglia was completely covered by forest with the typical species of the Mediterranean vegetation. In 1804 Orbetello's Municipality sold Feniglia to private citizens who used it for pasture and wood. That disorderly exploitation of the territory caused the deforestation: the vegetation disappeared and the bare dune was subjected to a quick process of erosion.
Due to the south-west wind the sand started to move from the sea to the lagoon which started to silt up creating marshes. In 1910 Feniglia became public property and the reforestation started. These interventions brought about the creation of a wood of 460 hectares in 50 years. In 1971, the Government declared the Feniglia Dune part of the national protected area for the important functions that it performs. Inside the Reserve, on the lagoon side, there are some ornithological observatories, a nature route for visually handicapped people and a wellness route.
In 1610 the famous painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, known as Caravaggio, run away from Naples, disembarking first at Palo, then at Porto Ercole for problems with the law, he took refuge in the unhealthy marsh of Feniglia where he died as evidenced by a plaque in his memory placed at the beginning of the Park.
Orbetello WWF Oasis
It had been constituted in 1971 and it was extended for 870 hectares. In 1977 it has been included in the category of the places with international value, according to the Ramsar Treaty. In 1980 it became Natural Reserve of the State and protected area. Today the oasis extends for 1500 hectares and protects 300 hectares of salty lagoon. The sandy dune includes an area of Mediterranean vegetation. On the borders of the lagoon there are groves of white poplar, ash trees, elms, eucalyptus and cork oaks. The quality of the environment and the location along the migratory course allows a considerable concentration of thousands of birds, like flamingos, grey herons, great white herons, ospreys, etc. Among the insects there is a rarity: it is an endemic Cincindela which lives here and only in another place, Camargue. Among the mammals there are foxes, badgers and porcupines.
In the oasis there are 3 routes, the first is the ornithological route, the second is the botanic route, the third is the excursion which crosses different environments and you can enjoy it all over the year.
Burano's lake actually is a coastal salty pond, it is what remains from an ancient lake. Today it is connected to the sea through a canal, partially artificial. The surface is 149 ha and the medium deep is 1 m. The beach il 12 km long. Here you can find all the typical plants of the littoral zone. Just behind it you can find a dune covered by Mediterranean vegetation which protects the evergreen forest from the sea wind. The shores are rich of bed of reeds. Flora is very rich and includes more then 600 species of trees and flowers. Moreover there are about 60 species of lichens, among which the rare Teloschistes villosus. Fauna consists of 274 species of birds, among which herons, flamingos, many predatories and the rare Eurynebria complanata. Among the mammals, there are porcupines, badgers, foxes, stone martens, weasels and the rare skunk.
It is open from September to May.
Natural Park Uccellina
The Natural Park was instituted in the 1975 by the Tuscan region. The territory extends along the Tyrrhenian coast from Principina a Mare to Alberese till Talamone. The Park comprises Uccellina's Mountains, Marina di Alberese's pine forest, Ombrone river's outlet and Trappola's Marsh and represents a precious mosaic of ecosystems for 100 kmq. Fauna is constituted of several species: wild boars, deers, roes, porcupines, badgers, foxes, stone martens and many species of birds. About Flora, this park is, certainly, the Mediterranean vegetation's kingdom with live oaks, oak trees, brooms, thyme etc. From the hills you can enjoy the Tyrrhenian Sea view with Giglio Island, Elba Island and Corsica. The landscape is really insuperable. On the Mountains there are ancient towers and religious buildings (tower of Castelmarino, of Collelungo, of Cala di Forno, of Bella Marsilia and Abbazia di San Rabano).
By bus, that leaves every hour, you can reach "Pratini" locality from where several routes start.
Islands and Ports
It extends for 2120 hectares and its coast is 28 km long. Around Giglio Porto, the port of the island, there are many sandy small bays. On top of the island there is Giglio Castello, a medieval village completely surrounded by an ancient wall, with its suggestive narrow and winding streets which lead to the old fortress. Mule tracks and paths, across the vines, reach Giglio Campese, characterized by a mighty tower on a wide sandy inlet.
It is the island most far away from the coast. The island has a exceptional habitat protection as it gives hospitality to endemic species of flora and fauna. It is declared Natural Biogenetic Reserve by the European Council. It extends for 1040 hectares and it is 646 meters high.
The Promontory of Monte Argentario is the ideal place for people loving the sea, thanks to the 3 harbours (Porto Ercole, Porto S. Stefano and Cala Galera).
Porto Santo Stefano
is the most important town of the Promontory. It has 2 ports, the Old Port and the New Port. The town is dominated by the Siena Tower of the XV century. From the harbour you can embark and reach the several islands of the Tuscan Archipelago.
has Roman origin (Portus Eculius), far 12 km from Porto S. Stefano, it is located on the eastern coast of Argentario. The historical centre preserves ancient buildings among which: the magnificent Rocca, the Spanish Forts Stella, S. Barbara and Monte Filippo and Consani Palace of the XVI century. Porto Ercole is a well known seaside resort, thanks to the rich vegetation, the rock seacoast with its inlets and stretches of sand and the beautiful beaches.
The 2 tomboli, the Giannella and Feniglia, that bind the promontory to the mainland, form a lagoon where at the center the village of Orbetello develops. It was the historical centre in the Etruscan period. The ruins of the polygonal walls are dated fourth century a.c. In the Pretura's building there is the Civic Antiquarium which collects objects of the Etruscan graves and architectural ruins from Orbetello and the close villages. You can visit the Cathedral (XIV century) which is a very beautiful example of the Sienese art.
Tufa Area: Pitigliano, Sovana, Sorano, Saturnia
The tufa area takes the name from the material of the rock which was excavated to build houses, cellars and graves. This area is unique for the ruins of the Etruscan period, with its graves, roads excavated in tufa, as well as by the ruins of the Medieval architecture. Thanks to Sovana's necropolis, Etruscan old streets and Medieval villages perfectly preserved like Magliano in Toscana, and thanks also to the natural resources of great value, like Saturnia hot springs and the hills of Fiora River, this is one of the most beautiful area of Tuscany. The three main centers of the area, still mostly unknown by the mass-tourism, are Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana.
It is sited along an edge of tufa sheer on the ditch Lente. The origin of Pitigliano disperses in the dawns of the Italian civilization, with finds dated from the Neolithic, passing through the Etruscan and Roman period, reaching Aldobrandeschi and Orsini families. There are a few Etruscan necropolis in the surroundings, very important, such as Poggio Buco, Sparne and Gradone. You can visit them.
It is sited on an edge of tufa, and Fortezza Orsini overlooks from the top. You can't miss to visit Masso Leopoldino (Rocca Vecchia) and Fortezza Orsini. It is possible to make excursions by mountain bike or on foot along the ancient Etruscan streets. In the surroundings there are some rocky structures of great importance, like San Rocco and the archaeological area of Vitozza, close to San Quirico.
Today the village is perfectly restructured, with a long road which, from the ruins of the ancient Rocca Aldobrandesca, reachs Piazza del Pretorio and, at the end, the Cathedral of Saints Pietro e Paolo.
The beauty of Sovana is due to the Medieval heritage and the Cathedral, but not only for this. The surroundings are rich of many Etruscan necropolis.
The village is built on a big travertine chimney and it is completely surrounded by a wall built before the Etruscan period, and for this reason it is considered the first city of the Italian civilization. Still today it is quite common to find in Saturnia and in the surroundings Etruscan, Roman and Medieval finds.
Not far, in the valley, you can find the famous hot springs with sulfurea water at 37°C temperature and about 500 meters from them there is a suggestive waterfall in which you can bathe in all season.
The construction of the Tarocchi garden started in 1979. The creator was Niki de Saint Phalle, a French sculptress world-famous. The garden is sited on the marvelous Tuscan hills, near Capalbio. It represents the 22 tarot cards, through huge sculptures of 12-15 meters. The first steps of the building were followed by sculptor Jean Tinguely and after to the local artisans. When the raw part was ready, Niki started to think how she could embellish her work. She had the idea of covering the sculptures with mosaics, using mirror, pottery and a lot of precious plate glasses multicoloured (Venice's Murano glass). Its wall, made with tufo rock, separates the everyday realty from the magic atmosphere of the garden.