Orbetello: beaches, what to see, what to do and how to get there
rbetello, in the province of Grosseto, rises as a focal point of tourism, enveloped by a lagoon and embraced by the two splendid beaches of Giannella and Feniglia. It is the gateway to the refined tourist area of Monte Argentario and, not far away, reveals the heart of the Grosseto Maremma, a land of ancient traditions. Its beaches also extend northwards with the Osa beach. The city preserves monuments of great historical and artistic importance such as the Medina Coeli Gate and the Guzmán Powder Magazine. The Orbetello Lagoon Oasis, one of the WWF refuges, preserves the habitat of numerous species. The Cathedral of Orbetello houses unique works of art, while the town walls offer a fascinating journey into the past. Although it is less crowded in the evening, it offers a lively nightlife with bars, restaurants and discos. The town, easily accessible from Florence and Rome, also has a railway station.
Within the province of Grosseto, Orbetello emerges as an undoubtedly important tourist destination. This town, with almost 15,000 residents, is surprising at first glance, especially when observed from above: it is situated on a thin strip of land, enveloped on two sides by a vast lagoon that shapes two enchanting beaches, namely Giannella and Feniglia, stretching towards the Tyrrhenian Sea. Orbetello also stands out as the gateway to the sophisticated Monte Argentario tourist area, where some of Tuscany's most fascinating inlets are hidden. Let's not forget that a short distance inland, one plunges into the heart of the Grosseto Maremma, a region steeped in fascination and age-old customs, where the past intertwines with the present to create an extraordinary combination. These are just some of the factors that attract visitors to Orbetello. Whatever your motivation, enjoy your stay to the utmost, and do not believe that outside the summer season there is nothing left to do: even though swimming is not possible, the town is still an excellent starting point for discovering the Maremma of Grosseto, an area that offers attractions of great interest every day of the year, as well as the possibility of organising nature tours in its enchanting lagoon.
The Beaches of Orbetello
Orbetello's beaches include first of all Giannella and Feniglia, which delineate the boundaries of the lagoon In addition to these, a third charming beach north of Orbetello, called Osa beach, stretches along the coast separating the town from Talamone.
The Spiaggia della Giannella is located on the outer side of the Orbetello lagoon and faces north-west. On a clear day, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the island of Elba, while the fiery sunsets over the sea make for unforgettable evenings. Giannella, approximately 8 kilometres long, is a stretch of sand that remains largely free. It is overlooked by a few hotels and, especially in the area furthest from the Argentario promontory, several campsites, so some areas are private and reserved for guests of the facilities. But there is no cause for concern: given its size, there is plenty of room for everyone at Giannella.
Feniglia Beach, on the other hand, lies exactly opposite Giannella and is entirely within a protected nature reserve. Its extension goes from Cala Galera to Ansedonia, for about 6 kilometres, with a vast pine forest behind it, full of paths where one can walk or cycle in peace away from the heat of the sun. To access Feniglia beach, which differs from Giannella due to its reserved nature, it is necessary to park the car in the nearby pay car parks and continue on foot. However, despite its wildness, near the two ends there are also some equipped areas that, without being too obvious, provide bathers with the usual beach equipment such as umbrellas and sunbeds as well as offering a refreshment point.
Finally, Spiaggia dell'Osa, the third and last beach in Orbetello, is very similar to the other two in terms of
conformation: it is very long and completely sandy, but stands out for being mainly reserved for campsites. Most of the campsites in Orbetello, of all categories, overlook this beach. Of course, it is possible to access the Osa beach even if one is not a guest of these facilities, although only in certain public areas. After parking the car and driving through a lush pine forest, this thin strip of sand suddenly appears. It is an ideal place to admire beautiful sunsets and offers wonderful views of Giglio Island.
What to see in Orbetello
he historical heart of Orbetello is a treasure trove of monuments and ancient buildings of great artistic and historical importance. Among these, the Porta Medina Coeli, the entrance to the fortified town, the Spanish Mill, the Renaissance palazzo of the Podestà and the Polveriera Guzmàn, which now houses a museum, stand out for their importance.
Orbetello Lagoon Oasis
The Oasis of the Orbetello Lagoon is one of 80 areas protected by the WWF in Italy to preserve the habitat and endangered species. This reserve, open to visitors and all nature lovers, is located along one of the main migration routes and is a key site for hibernating European birds. The lagoon's pristine environment, combined with a sandy tombolo, a pine forest and cultivated fields, is home to an abundant variety of fauna including some 200 species of water birds, including herons, ducks, grebes and gulls. The WWF offers guided tours through the 'nature trails', equipped with observation points and illustrated huts. At the Casale Spagnolo della Giannella you can visit the Museum, the Environmental Education Centre and stay in the guest quarters.
The Idroscalo di Orbetello is a historical symbol of aeronautics. Seventy years ago, the impressive Oceanic Transflights departed from here. In 1944, many military structures were destroyed by the Germans. The Nervi hangars and various technical rooms such as the workshops and garages were lost, but the troop and officers' quarters such as the dormitories, canteens and storerooms also suffered extensive damage. Only a few structures were spared, including the Command building.
The Cathedral of Orbetello, the ancient Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is located in the central Piazza della Repubblica. Inside are works of art such as the stuccoes of the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the series of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, the Confessional of St. Paul of the Cross and a magnificent wooden sculpture made by the Spanish in the 17th century depicting the Virgin of the Assumption, as well as the Baroque-style chapel dedicated to St. Blaise.
Finally, the Gates and Walls of Orbetello offer a fascinating journey into the past. The Porta Senese, the oldest, the Porta del Soccorso visible at the Peschiere, the Porta Esterna di Terra, equipped with a drawbridge that has now disappeared, and the Porta Nuova, visible at the entrance to Orbetello's historic centre. The Mura Ciclopiche (Cyclopean Walls), commonly attributed to Etruscan and Roman works, have recently been traced back to the Villanovans, a population that lived in the lagoon area around 10 centuries BC.
What to do in the evening in Orbetello
Orbetello is a popular tourist destination, but it attracts a specific type of visitor. For a start, few choose to stay in the historic centre, making the area less crowded in the evenings, although there is no shortage of bar and restaurant options. Many opt for hotels or campsites near the beaches, which become the epicentre of nightlife.
Among the discos in Orbetello, the New Line stands out. It is located outside the lagoon, in a location that is also convenient for those arriving from neighbouring towns. The Havana, another popular club for those staying in Orbetello, is technically part of the municipality of Monte Argentario, but is a very short distance from the town centre.
Several bathing establishments are transformed when the sun goes down, offering aperitifs and dancing evenings on the beach. These evening activities offer a unique opportunity to enjoy the sea under the stars, combining the natural beauty of the place with a lively and fun atmosphere.
How to get to Orbetello?
The journey to Orbetello by car from Florence takes about two and a half hours, driving south towards Siena and Grosseto, then continuing on the Aurelia road until you reach Orbetello Scalo. From this point, the centre of Orbetello is only a few minutes away. The journey from Rome is considerably shorter, taking about one hour and 45 minutes. One proceeds through Civitavecchia and then takes the SS1 Aurelia northbound.
The railway station, Orbetello Scalo - Monte Argentario, is served by many regional trains that cross it on the route from Grosseto to Rome. This rail link is a convenient option to reach this enchanting destination.
Map of Orbetello
Where is Orbetello?
Orbetello is located in the province of Grosseto, situated on a thin stretch of land in the centre of the lagoon of the same name. The town is surrounded by water on three of its sides, forming an enchanting panorama. Beyond the lagoon are the two long beaches of Giannella and Feniglia, which delineate Orbetello's outer boundaries and add to its unique natural beauty.