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Orbetello, in the province of Grosseto, is one of the most important tourist destinations in Tuscany. It is a very beautiful and striking location. The town stands on a narrow strip of land surrounded on both sides by the lagoon which forms the beaches of Giannella and Feniglia.

Orbetello is the gateway to the Monte Argentario area, and just a few kilometres from the heart of the Grosseto Maremma inland.

As you arrive at the town from Monte Argentario, you pass the dam built by Leopold II in 1842 with the symbolic round mill to its left.

Beyond the mill is the point where the best-preserved section of Etruscan walls made of large polygonal blocks, dating back to the 4th century BC, can be seen.

As you enter the old part of the town and continue along Corso Italia, a great place for a leisurely stroll and shopping, you come to Piazza Plebescito, and then, Piazza Garibaldi, which is the site of the residence of the governor of Spain.

Continuing on, you reach Piazza IV Novembre, where you can see the small church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses a 15th-century fresco of the Sienese school.

The next stop is the Duomo, the co-cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which you can reach by walking along the Lungolaguna di Ponente. The Duomo is of Romanesque origin and shows signs of the renovation commissioned by the Orsini family in 1375. According to many scholars, it stands on an ancient Etruscan temple. A theory supported by the high base on which the church is built.

Whilst remaining in the centre, take the time to visit the Church of San Francesco, with some interesting epigraphs from the Spanish period, the Porta Nuova complex with its three gateways to the historic centre, and the Guzman armoury, which today houses the archaeological museum.

The Orbetello Lagoon

The Orbetello Lagoon covers an area of about 27 square kilometres, has an average depth of about one metre and a maximum depth of no more than two.

It is separated from the sea to the west and east by two strips of land about 6 km long: the sandy “Tomboli della Giannella” to the northwest and “Feniglia” to the southeast, and the Monte Argentario promontory to the west. A third strip of land extends into the centre of the lagoon and this is where the town of Orbetello is located.

The lagoon is divided into two parts by an artificial bridge (the Diga Leopoldiana), which connects Orbetello to Monte Argentario.

It connects to the sea through three artificial canals: the Fibbia (or Saline) canal, the Nassa canal (at Santa Liberata), and the Ansedonia canal.

Orbetello Lagoon Natural Reserve

The Orbetello lagoon is a high risk environment. The reason lies in the scarce supply of seawater and the discharge containing high levels of nitrates and potassium salts from agricultural crops. For this reason, numerous laws have been passed over the course of time and the Commissioner for the Orbetello Lagoon has been appointed.

Today, part of the Western Lagoon is protected in the WWF Oasis of the Orbetello Western Lagoon Natural Reserve and the Patanella Woods.

The Orbetello Lagoon Nature Reserve managed by the Province of Grosseto and the “Orbetello Lagoon” Special Protection Area (SPA) is also found in this area.

The lagoon is a wetland recognised as being of international importance by the Ramsar Convention. Many bird species nest or pass through it, such as the black-winged stilts, pink flamingos, great egrets, ospreys, spoonbills, avocets, cormorants and various species of ducks.


The Orbetello Lagoon Nature Reserve is a protected natural area established in 1998 and covers an area of 1,533 hectares.

It has an important nesting and transit area for birds in Italy where the Anas acuta (pintail), Anas strepera (gadwall) and Anas Clypeata (shoveler) spend the winter. Regionally, it is a very important wintering location for the Fulica atra (common coot) and is the only peninsular site where Phoenicopterus roseus (greater flamingo) has nested.

It is the largest inland lagoon in the Tyrrhenian Sea and is home to many rare species of birds, including the lesser spotted eagle, sea eagle, cattle egret, waders, herons, flamingos and ducks.

The wetland area is of crucial importance for many migratory, wintering and nesting bird species and is classified as a key site for the curlew, which is on the verge of extinction.

The greater spotted cuckoo, lanner falcon, marsh harrier, ferruginous duck, common shelduck, grey shrike, stone curlew, bittern, pond turtle and Hermann’s tortoise, amphibians and coastal dune mammals.

The vegetation consists of the coastal pine forests with maritime and domestic pine, prickly juniper, Phoenician juniper, phillyrea, buckthorn, smilax, mastic, myrtle, holm oak, cork, manna ash, and downy oak.


The Orbetello Lagoon WWF Oasis lies within the Orbetello Lagoon Nature Reserve.

The WWF oasis is of very special international importance because it is located on migratory routes.

This means that thousands of birds can be seen concentrated in an area of 850 hectares.

The lagoon is brackish with an average depth of about one metre, and silt islets covered by marsh vegetation, expanses of glasswort, groves of poplars, ash trees, cork trees and elms. Lush Mediterranean scrub covers the “tombolo della Gianella”.

Flamingos, black-winged stilts, great egrets, grey herons and ospreys converge in the lagoon.

The spectacle of the pink flamingos, which gather here between autumn and spring, peaking in December, is not to be missed.

There are numerous bird watching huts around the Oasis. Another ideal location for sightings is the cycle track that starts from Orbetello Scalo, especially in the first stretch near the hospital.

There are three itineraries for visiting the Oasis:

  • The first is dedicated to the observation of birdlife through a route with 9 stations;
  • The second is a botanical trail with several observation huts;
  • The third is the “Casale” on the ”Tombolo della Giannella”, which allows you to visit the wetlands exhibition and the butterfly garden.

Orbetello Lagoon Tour

One of the best ways to discover the area is the Tour of the Eastern Lagoon. A bike tour that takes in Orbetello, Terrarossa, Tombolo della Feniglia, Ansedonia (Cosa), Via di Camerette, and Orbetello Scalo.

The departure and arrival points are in Orbetello, on a route covering a distance of 25 km.

It is a fairly flat route that runs along asphalt roads for 19 km and dirt roads for 6 km.

It can be completed using all-terrain and mountain bikes. It is an easy route that is not tiring and, therefore, suitable for everyone, even families with children.

Locations of interest include the “Tombolo della Feniglia”, Eastern Lagoon, the ruins of Cosa, and Etruscan ”Split”.

Cosa was a Roman city, founded in 273 BC. It stood on the promontory of Ansedonia, not far from the Via Aurelia. The name most likely derives from the nearby Etruscan city, Cusi or Cosia, which stood near the beach now called “Lido del venerabile”, in the Orbetello lagoon.

Orbetello, sea and lagoon

The Orbetello lagoon is one of the most important wetlands in Italy as well as one of the most important and renowned tourist destinations in the Monte Argentario area.

The sea is wonderful with crystal-clear waters that, at times, turn into an amazing shade of turquoise.

The beaches are clean, beautiful and golden, with numerous parts suitable for children, areas equipped for dogs and areas accessible to the disabled.

The best beaches in Orbetello

Let’s take a look at the most beautiful beaches in Orbetello:

  • Giannella beach: on the outer part of the Orbetello Lagoon. It is 8 km long, completely sandy and access is mostly free. It is particularly suitable for families with children, but also for sailing sports enthusiasts. It is one of the two strips of sand that join the Monte Argentario to the mainland. It is packed with beach resorts, cafés, restaurants and nightclubs;
  • Spiaggia Lunga: a wide sandy bay sheltered from the winds and located on the eastern side of the Monte Argentario promontory. The sea is crystal clear, the seabed is covered by pebbles and stones and slopes gently downward. The sand is light and coarse, mixed with gravel. Access to the beach is free but there are no facilities;
  • Spiaggia della Feniglia: connecting the Monte Argentario promontory to Ansedonia. It is inside the Dune Feniglia Nature Reserve and is easily reached from Porto Ercole or Cala Galera. It is a wild-looking golden sandy beach with a backdrop of Mediterranean scrubland and pine forests. The water is crystal clear, with gently sloping sandy sea beds.