Monte Argentario is a heavenly peninsula situated in the southernmost of Tuscany, at 41, 5 kilometres far from Grosseto. The peninsula, overlooking both the Tyrrhenian coasts and the Tuscan Archipelago, is formed by an impressing wooded mountain with a surface of more than 60 square kilometres, reaching over 600 metres of highness. Monte Argentario was originally an island, but in ancient geological ages the sand drifts silted the channel forming two strips of land, the Tombolo di Feniglia to the south and the Tombolo di Giannella to the north, joining the former island to the mainland. The largest one is the Tombolo di Feniglia, more than six kilometres of length and one kilometre of distance across, with an amazing nature hosting some protected species of wild fauna, as well as an unpolluted extensive beach. Between those tomboli is located the marvellous and clean Lagoon of Orbetello, which was originated by the favourable ecosystem generated by the two isthmuses. The lagoon is geographically included in the ancient and highly interesting municipality after its name, which in 1842 was connected by a dyke to Monte Argentario.
The wooded green mountain, with more than 30 exclusives beaches and small bays along its rocky cliffs belt, preserves the look and the feel it had when it was an island, so to be considered by both national and international tourism the paradigm of a fabulous nautical vacation in Tuscany.
Monte Argentario has been inhabited since pre-historical times, as confirm the vestiges located in the big caves respectively called Grotta di Cala di Santi and Grotta degli Stretti.
On the other hand, it is believed that before the arrival of the Etruscans it had been inhabited by the Phoenicians who gave rise to the name of the spot called Feniglia.
The first details about an existing seaport to the south of the Tuscan shoreline called “Portus Cosanus” were given by the Greek geographer Strabon (63 BC ca. - 25 AD ca.) in his exhaustive “De Geographia” treatise. Monte Argentario was formerly known as “Cosanus Promontory” as the peninsula pertained to the Etruscan town of Cosa, conquered by the Romans in the 173 BC, which impressive remnants are still visible on the summit of a hill, overlooking the beautiful small town of Ansedonia, which was formerly joined to Monte Argentario by the Tombolo di Feniglia.
The current name of the Argentario peninsula dates from the 416 AD when the Gale-Roman poet Claudius Rutilius Namatianus referred to it with the name of Argentariorum Mons (Silver Mount) in his work “De Reditu Suo”.
The long stay of the Romans in Monte Argentario shows us the traces of a flourishing age as demonstrate the remnants of amazing temples and villas, like the famous “Villa Domizia” at Santa Liberata, which was built between the 1st century BC and the 1st AD one, or the construction of drains, baths and roads, as well as by the abundant growth of olive groves and vineyards.
The latter ones were placed on the still existing large steeply tiers dug in the rock, known as “poste”, which originate the extraordinary grapes of Ansonico and Riminese from which the celebrated local wines come from.
Since the 6th century AD until the 9th one the Argentario peninsula became one of the principal objectives of the barbaric invasions, easily reachable because of the lack of control of the Via Aurelia in those times.
At the beginning of the 9th century Pope Leone III conferred its administration to the monks of the Abbazia delle Tre Fontane who ruled it until the 12th century. Subsequently, it became a feud of the Aldobrandeschi family and in the 14th century it passed to the hands of the Orsini di Sovana dynasty. After being under the dominion of the Kingdom of Naples, in 1410 the Republic of Siena occupied the Argentario peninsula and converted it in a stronghold.
In 1555 all the territories ruled by Siena were conquered by Florence, at the age governed by Cosimo I de Medici, with the decisive contribution of the Spanish Empire’s army.
Two years after, during the reign of Philip II of Spain, Monte Argentario went into the “Presidi Spagnoli” (small Spanish states in the southern coastline of Tuscany), together with Orbetello, Talamone, Ansedonia, Piombino and the Elba Island (Porto Longone) ,which brought to Spain the control of the Italian sea from Tuscany to Naples and to the southern edge of the country, besides the one of Sicily and Sardinia. Because of, in the second half of the 16th century by willing of the viceroy of Naples, Don Pedro Afán de Ribera, Duke of Alcalá, the Argentario peninsula was significantly fortified by the construction of walls, fortresses and military buildings. Then the Argentario peninsula reached an important demographic development thanks to the arrival of military men and their families from the south of Italy, as well as numerous fishermen, merchants and workers coming from different sites, who set up the principal centres of population.
Monte Argentario has two main towns, Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole. Both of them are going on busy mercantile and first-class tourist activities. They are easily reachable by car through the impressing panoramic road which connects the Argentario peninsula with the historical town of Orbetello. By boat, the travel makes visitors enjoying of an enchanting voyage around the 30 kilometres of rocky coasts, as well as of the pretty raised spots and ancient watchtowers scattered on the mount located between Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole.
Main Towns of Monte Argentario
Porto Ercole, Porto Santo Stefano
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