The Lagoon of Orbetello, in Tuscany, is a natural paradise that draws numerous travelers in the know all year long. In the lower Maremma, it is protected by the World Environment Fund since 1971, allowing for its ecosystem – comprising many species of migratory birds – to thrive. This splendid zone, overlooked by the 2,083-ft. Monte Argentario, is covered by fragrant Mediterranean maquis. Three slight and sandy stretches of land wrap around Orbetello’s lagoon, connecting the town itself to the Argentario Promontory, making it unrivaled as a refuge of avifauna and charming coastal oasis.
The community of Orbetello fronts the lagoon, jutting out at its center. Populated by the Etruscans in Antiquity (visible in remnants of defense wall), Orbetello was also a fortified port under the State of Presidi or Garrisons, governed by Spain in the 1500s. Indeed, near the local salt mines (Saline) we can see an age-old Spanish fortress, the Fort of Saline, along with another structure from the same epoch, known as the Casale Spagnolo (or Spanish Country House).
In Orbetello’s Historic Center resides the Concattedrale (Co-Cathedral) di Santa Maria Assunta, built c. 1300 on the ruins of a Roman temple from the 5th Century C.E. This Gothic Duomo hosts several important works on the inside, including an important High Medieval Antependium in marble relief.
Then, the Umberto I Caserma or barracks houses an ancient pediment or from nearby Talamone; a vestige terra-cotta from the Etruscan-Hellenistic era, it dates back to 150 B.C.E., and it narrates the myth of Oedipus. Meanwhile, the 16th and 17th Centuries prevail in the structures of Orbetello: think towers, citadels and castles, Spanish fortifications like the former Polveriera Guzman or ammunitions silo, now hosting the Municipal Archaeological Museum.
Orbetello’s lagoon is bordered by two strips of land in the sea, known as the Tomboli: two beaches, they are known as the Tombolo della Feniglia and Tombolo della Giannella. Almost four miles long, Feniglia lies between the hills of Ansedonia to the east and Monte Argentario to the west. Giannella expands over a similar distance, but lies between Argentario and the Albegna River delta. Characterized by long beaches, sandy dunes, coastal pines and Mediterranean shrub, it is ideal as a sea tourism destination.
For those that prefer the intrigue of rocky shores, rather, the coasts along both Talamone and Ansedonia are gorgeous and pose just the right amount of “treachery” for the more adventurous.
Visitors in the area without a doubt should visit the Riserva naturale di Orbetello. The salty coastal lagoon boasts tiny islands of sand and is partly fed fresh water by the surrounding canals.
Distinguished by an enormous botanical variety and by its enchanting butterfly garden, this reserve is ideal for watching its 200 bird species.