Orbetello, between sea and … sea
Overlooking the homonymous lagoon, Orbetello is one of the main tourist resorts of the Argentario and the Maremma. The city stands on a long strip of land right in the middle of the lagoon that stretches between the mainland and Mount Argentario, to which Orbetello is connected through an artificial dam.
Orbetello is the protagonist of a long series of historical events. Its territory was inhabited since the time of the Etruscans, then supplanted by the Romans who founded the city of Cosa near Ansedonia. During the Middle Ages it was part of the properties of the Abbey of the Tre Fontane, then of the Aldobrandeschi, of the Orsini and finally of the Republic of Siena. After the end of the Sienese state (XVI century), Orbetello became part of the spanish State of the Presidi. In 1707 its territory came under the control of the Austrians, but in 1736 it became part of the Kingdom of Naples. In the nineteenth century Orbetello was incorporated into the Kingdom of Etruria first, then into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and finally into the Kingdom of Italy.
Today Orbetello is a renowned seaside resort that can associate its natural beaches, archaeological sites and monuments to its numerous beaches.
Guide to visit Orbetello, best places to visit
- Mulino spagnolo
- Archaeological Museum of Orbetello
- Duomo of Orbetello
- Pediment of Talamone
- Chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie
The Mulino spagnolo (Spanish mill) is perhaps the best known monument of Orbetello. Positioned in the middle of the water a short distance from the coast, it is the only survivor among the 9 water mills that were built by the Sienese and subsequently restored by the Spaniards. To admire this pretty mill you have to reach the western end of Orbetello where the dam that leads up to the Argentario begins.
Archaeological Museum of Orbetello
The Archaeological Museum of Orbetello is located inside the Polveriera Guzman, an interesting rectangular building reinforced by some side towers, built at the end of the seventeenth century. The museum displays a large collection of archaeological finds, ranging from the Neolithic to the Roman age, mostly from Orbetello and Talamone.
Address: via Mura di Levante 7
January – March: Saturday 14.30-17.30 Sundays and holidays 10.00-13.00
April – June: Saturday 16.00-19.00; Sundays and holidays 10.00-13.00 and 16.00-19.00
July – August: Saturday, Sunday and holidays 18.00-22.00
September: Saturday 16.00-20.00 Sunday and holidays 9.00-13.00 and 16.00-20.00
October – December: Saturday 188.8.131.52; Sundays and holidays 10.00.13.00
If you are fond of archeology, I suggest you to go around the city in search of the ancient walls of Orbetello, which were built in Etruscan times and then reinforced several times over the centuries.
The Duomo of Orbetello, or Concattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, was built starting from the 13th century and, according to tradition, it would rise above a former pagan temple. On the façade you can admire a remarkable late Gothic portal and a bust of Jesus placed above the rose window. The interior, with three naves, is enriched by the chapel of San Biagio, a Baroque monument of considerable interest.
The Pediment of Talamone
On the same square on which the Duomo faces, we find the former convent of the Clarisse (now Caserma Umberto I). The building, home to the municipal library and the Pro Loco, houses the Permanent Exhibition of the Pediment of Talamone, dedicated to the prestigious finds from the Etruscan temple of Talamonaccio. Dating back to 150 BC the pediment of Talamone offers the most important representation of the history of the “Seven against Thebes” that has come down to us.
Chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie
Finally, in Orbetello there is the Madonna delle Grazie church. Founded, it seems, in the thirteenth century, the church has been completely rebuilt over time. Inside we find a painting of the 18th century Madonna and Child in glory between angels and two interesting fifteenth-century frescoes of the Sienese school: Madonna di Costantinopoli and Madonna delle Grazie.
The beaches of Orbetello
Orbetello has two beaches that run parallel along the two ends of the lagoon: the Feniglia beach (south side) and the Giannella beach (north side). Both the Feniglia beach, of which we have already spoken in the article about Porto Ercole, and the Giannella beach are two long strips of sand (7 and 8 km respectively) that connect the Argentario to the mainland. Both beaches are characterized by shallow waters and by the alternation of bathing establishments with free beaches. Ideal for a holiday with children!
Places to visit near Orbetello
Some very interesting centers such as Ansedonia and Talamone are part of the municipality of Orbetello; two locations able to perfectly combine sea and culture, a feature that unites them to all the various centers of the Argentario and the Maremma coast.
Nature lovers are spoiled for choice; in fact, in the area there are several protected natural areas, including the Duna Feniglia Nature Reserve, the Maremma Park and the Orbetello Lagoon WWF Oasis. In particular, the Orbetello lagoon is an important wintering area for many species of birds including the cormorant, the heron, the flamingo, the osprey and the black-winged stilt.