The placid brackish waters of the lagoon have for centuries cradled and enveloped the town of Orbetello, the beating heart of this body of water that the passage of centuries has enclosed in the perimeter composed of the Maremma coast, the huge mountain in the sea of the Monte Argentario and from the two tombolos, that of the Giannella and that of the Feniglia.
Orbetello ‘s destiny is to live immersed in natural, protected and special environments; the western side of the lagoon is a WWF oasis where egrets, black-winged stilts and the beautiful pink flamingos live undisturbed and frequently immortalized by birdwatchers but also by the many tourists passing through.
On the eastern side, the huge pine forest that covers the Tombolo della Feniglia constitutes the Dune di Feniglia Nature Reserve, characterized by a dual environment, lagoon and terrestrial thanks to the many species that inhabit it; foxes, fallow deer, badgers, weasels, and, to name but a few, green woodpeckers, jays and cuckoos.
The waters of the lagoon, constantly oxygenated by saltwater inlets, are rich in eels, sea bream, and mullet, the subject of a regulated and sustainable fishery, the pride of the town’s economy, from which excellent products such as mullet roe and shaded eel are obtained.
The history of the lagoon town is linked to the mysterious people of the Etruscans who discovered this strip of land and protected it with cyclopean walls that, even today, sink their foundations into the lagoon waters. Later it was the Sienese, who ruled these lands in the first half of the 1400s, who built the part of the walls that can still be admired and walked on today.
Within them is the town whose historic center is bounded by gates and fortifications dating back to the 16th century when Orbetello was declared the capital of the Stato dei Presidi, a Spanish enclave on Tuscan soil that also included the island of Elba and the Promontorio del Monte Argentario. Many relics remain from this period including the Governor’s Palace and the Guzman Powder Magazine, built by the Spanish in 1692 as an explosives depot and later used by Garibaldi, during the Expedition of the Thousand, to refuel while stopping at Talamone.
Outside the walls is the more modern part, which is also rich in history. Just move a few meters, in fact, the architectural fences of Cruise Park take you back to the 1920s. Within them, much of the buildings that made up the military citadel connected to the seaplane terminal, whose hangars were designed by architect Pier Luigi Nervi, and which served Italo Balbo as a departure base for cruises and Atlantic crossings between 1928 and 1933, is still present. The remains of the great Italian aviator, along with those of many of his fellow aviators, rest in the town’s cemetery.