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The authorities of Porto Santo Stefano, very wisely, have not transformed the old harbour "Porto Vechio" in a huge parking for boats as did those of Porto Ercole. At Santo Stefano you can still see the sea as the number of boats has been strictly limited to a few small ones in front of the Piazza dei Rioni and less than a dozen luxury yachts in front of the "via del Molo" (photo 1). Views on the sea are consequently preserved.
A walk along the yachts is nevertheless interesting to discover the new trends in yacht building. You will see modern style motor yachts such as the one on my photo 2, or classical sailing boats such as the ketch at anchor in the bay (photo 3).
These last 30 years I have often been dreaming of a sailboat, at least 36 feet long to have some comfort at sea, but finally I built myself a kayak and had a lot of fun. Of course I can not invite friends to have aperitif on deck of my kayak!
Written Oct 28, 2007
There are two harbours at Porto Santo Stefano. Coming by the road from Orbetello there is first the Porto Nuovo or commercial port from where there are boats going to the rather large island of Giglio (West of the Argentario) and the small Giannutri in the South. At this port there is a daily fish market. (For visiting the Giglio Island consult www.isolagiglio.it about the ferry boats and car traffic limitations on the island).
Then over about 500 m there is an avenue along the sea, the "lungomare" with parking possibilities and benches. This avenue ends at the Porto Vechio were are the restaurants along the "via del molo". Here are on anchor a few nice yachts. From the "lungomare" and the "molo" one has the best views on the hills of Porto Santo Stefano with the beige and rose houses and on the sea.
Written Oct 28, 2007
The Spanish Fortress "Fortezza Spagnola" was build in the 16 th c. when Porto Santo Stefano belonged to the Stato dei Presìdi (State of the Spanish garrisons). The fortress with a square form (35 x 35 m) is located on the hill dominating the harbour and has two stores. The access is by a staircase and a bridge. The terraces show vestiges from the positions for the canons and loopholes. There are rooms for the garrison. Actually this fortress is much smaller than the ones at Porto Ercole.
Presently the fortress is used for exhibitions.
Open from 10.30 to 12.30 and 15.00 to 19.00 h, all day in summer.
Price : 4 €
Written Oct 28, 2007
Because of its favourable geographical situation in the middle of the Tyrrhenian coast the Argentario and the harbour of Porto Santo Stefano were already visited by navigators during the Roman period. The real development started under the republic of Sienna (15 th c.). Defensive coastal towers were built as protection against pirate raids.
When the town became part of the "Stato dei Presidi" (State of Royal Garrisons of Spain), together with Orbetello, Porto Ercole and Talamone, King Felipe II fortified the promontory with fortresses and buildings and Spanish soldiers families started to settle in the area, along with sailors from Naples and Liguria forming the first villages (16 th c.).
Porto Santo Stefano was an important harbour between Spain and the Kingdom of Naples and did also control the Duchy of Tuscany and the States of the Church. Later Porto Santo Stefano changed hands to Austria, the Bourbons, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and finally the kingdom of Italy. In the 18 th c. more families from Naples, Liguria and the Elba Island came to live in this area.
During World War II, the Argentario was heavily bombed, with numerous losses. The port of Santo Stefano was destroyed, and was rebuilt only in the 1950s.
Until then the principal sources of the economy were the agriculture, the fishing and the navigation. From the sixties instead the tourist sector developed notably and became the principal economy resource of Porto Santo Stefano.
VIP's such as the Royal family of the Netherlands, members of the family Agnelli of Fiat did choose the Argentario for their second residences.
Written Oct 24, 2007