The centre of life in Monte Argentario is definitely PORTO SANTO STEFANO, divided into new harbour and old harbour. It has been created on the surrounds of the Spanish Fortress (La Rocca) – the giant fortress that cuts the landscape by the ocean – during the period when the Spanish soldiers started to settle in this area. Now, Porto Santo Stefano is one of the main attractions, offering many activities: on the new harbour you can search for all kinds of practice, like boat trips to Giglio and Giannutri islands, diving-school, sportive fishing, fish market and much more.
It is the right place to buy local fresh fish. Beside the new harbour you find the Molo Garibaldi, where old sailors usually gather to hear the sound of the ocean. In the opposite side you find the Mediterranean Aquarium that’s worth a visit. Going ahead through the “Lungomare” untill the large Piazzale dei Rioni, the main square in front of the old harbour. This oldest part of the town is characterized by the coloured buildings and small houses built from the ocean line up to the top of the hill. Here you will find all kinds of restaurants, cafes, pizzerias, gelaterias, shops and much more.
This is where every year the local people organize their most important event of Monte Argentario: the Palio Marinaro, a historic boat race that takes place on the 15th of August. But actually this event is connected to many different manifestations that last from July to the end of August. They include music shows, historic parades, processions and other events linked with the Palio itself, like the crew presentation, the boats draw to select which crew will receive each boat, and finally the post- Palio parties
Archaeological research shows that this part of Tuscany is almost as old as mankind itself. Inhabited from pre-historical ages, the Bronze age, passing through the Etruscan civilization, then through the Roman domination till the Middle Ages, when it passed to the king of Naples and later it became a defence territory and harbour of the Siennese Republic. In 1557, there was an agreement between the Tuscan Grand Duchy and King Philip II from Spain. He transformed this region into a State of strategic position between Spain and Naples, the biggest kingdoms at those times.
For these reasons, Philip II fortified the promontory with fortresses and buildings, Spanish soldiers and their families started to settle in the area, along with sailors from Naples and Liguria, forming the first villages. In 1815, Monte Argentario was connected to the Tuscan Grand Duchy, and then to the Italian Kingdom.
The name Argentario comes from "argentarii", that means "who lends money", because this peninsula has been acquired from a rich family, the Enobarbi Domizi, who has provided money to the Republic of Siena during the Punic wars and got the promontory as payment for the debts. From this fact the promontory has been called “Argentarium Mons” that translated from Latin to Italian becomes Monte Argentario.
The Spanish Fortress now hosts a Museum that collects archaeological relics from Argentario surroundings and a permanent exposure about the art of building boats. From the Fortress a long road called Strada Panoramica climbs up the hill, taking you to an amazing trip around the whole island, overlooking the stunning views of Monte Argentario’s beaches like Cala Grande, Argentarola, Cala del Gesso, Cala Piccola and Capo d’Uomo.
During the whole way you can always see the
Agenzia per il Turismo
Address: Piazzale S.Andrea, 1 P.S.Stefano tel. +39 0564/814208 fax +39 0564/814052
Schedule: From Monday to Saturday – 9 am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm
Article: Adriana Lucchesi