Monte Argentario – this hilly island in the Tyrrhenian sea in the Province of Grosseto turned out to be magnificent Italian peninsula with a lot to offer. It’s a forgotten region with almost no tourists, which makes it even more remarkable. The closest airport city is located around 150 km away, so you definitely need a car to get there and have a possibility to travel around. Although I have a seen one or two bus stops around the island, I don’t recognise seeing a bus. When I asked I was told the public transport basically does not exist there. Most of the peninsula is covered with private villas, all hidden in steep mountain landscape. This small peninsula is linked to the mainland by two tiny stretches of land with a national park located along the road. It’s a good opportunity for bird watching.
Why to visit Monte Argentario?
The region is located on the south end of Tuscany and it’s is very different from the the mainland landscape. Mainly because of the hilly area, which makes the island inaccessible for many travellers. The main port of the island is Santo Stefano. Like most of the port towns of this peninsula it’s hidden between the rocky coast. Some beaches are accessible only by sea which makes it an amazing place for snorkelling and diving, and gives an opportunity to have the beach just for yourself, which is not quite common in Europe.
The roads – probably one of the most scary in Europe! That is crazy! My Mum refused to drive with me, as she was that scared seeing through the car window nothing but a huge cliff. Taking a south road of the island be prepared to drive along the edge of the cliffs on a curvy narrow road. The views are fantastic! But a 15 km stage will take over 1 hour of drive. Watch out – Italian drivers are mad!! They absolutely don’t care to give way and would simply yell at you didn’t stop to let them drive.
What to see there?
- Rocky beaches – an amazing alternative for boring sandy beaches. Take the opportunity to swim in a clear, green water which hides incredible sea life. The only thing you can’t forget is that beaches are not easily accessible. You would need to drive tiny road down the hill and then probably take a walk to the reach the coast. I really liked Mar Morto. Not too many people and great place for snorkelling. The walk from a small parking place (also important as there’s often no parking spaces at all) takes only around 5 minutes. It’s even possible to rent a bed and an umbrella there. Cala Picolla – the most popular rocky beach in Argentario peninsula.
- Porto Santo Stefano – an amazing small port city located on the north part of the peninsula in the Province of Grosseto. This cosy harbour offers interesting promenade, small cafes and wonderful restaurants with fresh sea food. Take a walk along the harbour, there’s a typical local restaurant just next to a tiny beach and very small diving centre. I found the food very nice, pleasant service with prices 13-15 Euro per dish. It was there where I for the first time saw a school of jumping fishes very close to the shore!! It looked unbelievable and lasted few minutes. I can’t say whether it was a motorboat that caused this movement or something else.
- Orbetello – a cosy little fishing town with a beautiful bay. It’s located on the main land, just after crossing the tiny road along Lagoona di Orbetello – Nature Reserve. The Lagoon is linked to Monte Argentario by an artificial dam built in 1841. Still possible to experience some bird watching, depending on a season. The main restaurant in the old part of Orbetello seamed nice but honestly the food didn’t taste nice. I was deeply disappointed.
- Southern road along the coast – you have to take that road! First of all to admire the incredible views, secondly to experience some extreme driving 😉 The road is extremely curvy close to the edge of the rocks.
- Porto Ercole – a second port town in the island. Quite similar to Santo Stefano with interesting architecture and unforgettable atmosphere. You can enjoy the view from Forte Stella, the only 16th century fort on the Argentario Coast that is open to visitors.