The City of Orbetello and the Lagoon – Costa d’ArgentoMaremma Grossetana Tuscany (Photo by relisa)

The unreal and evocative atmosphere of Orbetello is the result of its position in the thin isthmus of land in the center of the lagoon of the same name, which a dam divides into two parts, connecting the city to the promontory of Monte Argentario.

Located in the heart of the Costa d’Argento,Orbetello is about 40 kilometers from the capital Grosseto and stands at the end of a peninsula in the Tuscan Maremma, in the center of the large lagoon bordered by the two tomboli: the Tombolo della Feniglia and the Tombolo della Giannella. The ancient village, whose shape resembles the prow of a ship, is connected to the Monte Argentariofrom an artificial bridge, the Leopoldian Dam – about 1 kilometer and a half long – built in 1841 and inaugurated the following year by Grand Duke Leopold II, which divides the large lagoon into two lagoon basins: the Levante lagoon and the Ponente lagoon. From the final section of the dam you can appreciate a suggestive view of the historic center and the 16th century Spanish mill, the symbol of Orbetello, built in the middle of the water. The oldest part of the town, historically impregnable, is surrounded by mighty Etruscan walls of the 5th century BC, replaced in several places by the fortifications in the Spanish era, when Orbetello was the capital of the State of the Presidi, created in 1557. Among these, well-preserved doors and sticks stand out, including Porta Medina Coeli (or Porta Nuova), Porta a Terra and Porta del Soccorso. The pearl of the entire defensive system is the formerGuzman powder magazine (now home to the Archaeological Museum of Orbetello), commissioned by Charles II in 1692. Here Garibaldi supplied himself with weapons and ammunition before embarking on Talamone, in his passage during the Expedition of the Thousand, in which eleven Orbetellans also participated.

The Spanish Mill of Orbetello at Sunset – Costa d’Argento – Tuscan Maremma (Photo by Afrocheye)

Orbetello is a name that derives from the Latin “urbis tellus”, land of the city, that is of Rome, which took over from the Etruscans in the control of the city and of the whole Maremma.

From the western walls you arrive at Piazza della Repubblica, where you can admire the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, built in 1376 and rebuilt in the seventeenth century, with a Tuscan Gothic style facade. Inside, the chapel of San Biagio is worth seeing which, among baroque scrolls and marbles, preserves the relic of the saint’s head and a marble slab from the early Middle Ages; The stuccos in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the wooden confessional of San Paolo della Croce and the statue of the Virgin are also of great value. Leaving behind the decorated portal of the cathedral, we go to the former Convent of the Poor Clares(1599), now home to the municipal library and the Pro Loco Lagunare of Orbetello. The seventeenth-century building has hosted the famous for years Pediment of the Temple of Talamone (currently on a traveling exhibition in Chile, on its return it will be placed in the Municipal Archaeological Museum), an Etruscan work of the Hellenistic period: an accurate work of recomposition of the various fragments and a recent restoration have returned the heroic image of Oedipus. In the nearby Piazza Garibaldi you can admire the image of another hero, that of the Two Worlds, in the work of Ettore Ferrari (1887), and the Palazzo di Spagna, surmounted by the seventeenth-century Clock Tower. A little further on, the characteristic Renaissance façade of theChurch of San Giuseppe from the 18th century stands out. In Orbetello two other squares boast the splendor of seventeenth-century Spain: Piazza del Plebiscito, with the monument to Caduti Orbetellani (1922) and the Palazzo Comunale, decorated with the coats of arms of the viceroys and a Latin epigraph from the nearby town of Cosa, and Piazza Beccaria, with the Church of San Francesco da Paola, founded in the sixteenth century.

Regional Nature Reserve of Orbetello-Maremma Tuscany (Photo by Motociclista Autonomo)

La Laguna di Orbetello – Oasis of WWF

TheOrbetello Lagoon is about one meter deep, measuring 26.22 Km2, and is limited by the two sandy strips of the Tombolo della Giannella and that of Feniglia. It communicates with the Albegna river through the Fibbia and Saline channels, and with the sea through the Nassa and Ansedonia or Gorghili channels. The lagoon is comparable to a lung that continuously receives water from the sea, especially through the sand of the two tomboli, by infiltration. It is a living body of water, improperly called a lagoon, plus a coastal lake of salt water,a natural, fascinating, very unique ecosystem, unique of its kind in Italy. Fish nursery, kingdom of the eel, which expertly marinated is the gastronomic pride of Orbetello, an oasis for migratory and sedentary birds that find here a protected habitat and rich crops of food. Germans, coots, garganeys, teals nestle quietly in the reeds that border the banks. The lagoon is a heritage of beauty, but also a natural wealth to be preserved and saved. The complexity of the exchange of marine waters, which guarantees the lagoon the character of an active lung and prevents its transformation into a pond of immobile and rotting waters, makes the biological balance of the area delicate, which can only succeed thanks to careful environmental surveillance. to survive. Various areas of the Orbetello Lagoon are protected areas, managed in the WWF Oasis, some of them are used as nature reserves.

Ubicazione di Orbetello (GR)

The Origins of Orbetello

The Orbetello area was known and inhabited since the Eneolithic period in prehistory. The moment that saw a more consistent human presence is theEtruscan one, of which numerous and notable vestiges still remain, and in various parts. In Roman times it continued to be a thriving center with its own autonomy. The historical period of greatest importance for Orbetello coincides with the consecration of the Royal Spanish Presidia to the state capital. After having been a fief of the abbot of the Tre Fontane (1000), it was subsequently dominated by the Aldobrandeschi before and, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, of the Orsini, Orbetello became the property of Siena (1414) and remained subject to it until, during the siege of the Tuscan city in 1555, the Spaniards made it the capital of the new State of the Presidi which included also Porto Santo Stefano, Porto Ercole, Talamone and Porto Azzurro. It then belonged to the Austrians (1708), to the Bourbons of Naples (1736), to the Kingdom of Etruria (1808), to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (1815) and finally to the Kingdom of Italy (1861).

Resources on Orbetello