Porto Santo Stefano is the largest town in the peninsula and so the site of Monte Argentario Town Hall. Located on the northern side of the promontory, the town descends from the slopes to a charming bay.
Porto Santo Stefano was founded around the end of the 15th century by Ligurian and Alban farmers and fishermen, going into an important development since the second half of the 16th century, which culminated at the beginning of the17th century when the town became one of the most important centres of the Spanish fleet in Italy.
The biggest structure in the town is the “Rocca Spagnola”, which construction comes back from the second half of the 16th century. It is an imposing quadrangular fortress protected by thick and leaning fortified walls and a drawbridge, which is considered a jewel of the Spanish military architecture of the age. It is currently the site of two permanent art exhibitions, respectively devoted to the “Maestri d’Ascia”, the craftsmen who built - and still build - the wooden fishing ships and boats, and to the “Memorie Sommerse”, the archaeological findings in the Argentario territorial waters.
Porto Santo Stefano is worldwide famous for being an exclusive nautical holiday resort and an important fishing centre, but it is also the busiest harbour to the mainland and to the splendid nearby Giglio and Giannutri islands. It has two ports, respectively called Porto Nuovo and Porto Vecchio, where luxurious yachts flanked by coloured wooden fish boats use to tie up the whole year thanks to the mild climate of the Argentario peninsula.
A walk along the beautiful Lungomare (seaside promenade) constructed after a design of Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1983 is not to be missed. Besides the exceptional panoramic views, visitors will enjoy looking at the tiny characteristic markets standing along it, where a long series of objects, going from beautiful pieces of craftsmanship to antiques, are put up for sale.
Between Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole, at 4 kilometres far from “Punta Telegrafo”, rises, at around 630 metres above the sea level, the wonderful Convento dei Padri Passionisti constructed in the mid of the 18th century at the request of the founder of that monastic order, St. Paolo della Croce (Ovada (Alessandria), 1694- Rome, 1775). The massive religious complex, standing isolated almost at the summit of the mountain, is surrounded by an amazing extensive natural territory. The Convent and the Church host some fine paintings and artworks. Among them make stand out the portrait of St. Paolo della Croce by the celebrated artist Pietro Aldi (Manciano (Grosseto), 1852-1888) and the beautiful image of the Madonna di Monte Argentario. At the present, the Convent is also the seat of prestigious chamber concerts especially held in summertime.
Every year, on August 15th, takes place in Porto Santo Stefano the exciting traditional boat race, called Palio dell’Argentario, which is run by skilled oarsmen in representation of the four districts in the town: Croce, Fortezza, Pilarella and Valle.
Where to eat: Porto Santo Stefano hosts numerous high-class restaurants and popular trattorias offering a first-class assortment of fresh fish and seafood dishes, as well as the superb Monte Argentario’s DOC Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario wine.
Among them, we suggest you:
- Ristorante “Il Veliero” (Via Panoramica, 149-151). It is a cool superb restaurant located high above the port with a lovely terrace.
A full meal is around 45/50 €.
- Ristorante “La Fontanina” (Loc. San Pietro). It is a first- rate panoramic restaurant overlooking the sea and the wild nature located at a short distance from the town.
A full meal is around 45/40 €.
- “Lo Sfizio” (Lungomare dei Navigatori, 26) It is a nice informal pizzeria-trattoria with a good assortment of fish dishes and pizzas.
A full meal is around 30 €.
- Pizzeria “Da Gigetto” (Via del Molo). It is a friendly small pizzeria. A fast dinner is around 15 €.
Main Towns of Monte Argentario
Porto Ercole, Porto Santo Stefano
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