Porto Santo Stefano is the largest town and port on the Monte Argentario promontory as well as being the administrative centre for the region. It is on the north coast of Monte Argentario and is a well-known, popular holiday spot for Italians.
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The town developed under Spanish rule after the foundation of the Stato dei Presidi and later, during the 18th century, fishing families from Naples and Liguria started to settle here and still make up a large portion of the population. During The Second World War Porto Santo Stefano was very heavily bombed and almost totally destroyed. The town was rebuilt in the 1950's but it does not appear very new due to the clever reconstruction using all the old stone.
The Port - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
The port is the hub of the town and it is a busy, working port which is divided into two parts, new (Porto del Valle) and old (Porto Vecchio). The latter is now an anchorage for passing yachtsmen and for holiday craft and becomes very busy during the summer months. On one side Porto del Valle is home to the large, local fishing fleet as well as the ferries crossing to the Tuscan islands. On the other there is a large, well equipped marina which often has expensive and impressive yachts moored there.
The town and port - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
The ferry runs at regular intervals to two of the Tuscan islands, Giglio and Giannutri. The Island of Giglio is only 12 miles away from Porto Santo Stefano. Gianuttri is just a mile or two further and they are about 12 miles from each other. It is, therefore, easy to visit both islands on one day and have time for a nice lunch and do some swimming while you are there.
The port is always lively and bustling and it is surrounded by small boatyards, shipwrights, a fish market and an amazing array of restaurants. Porto Santo Stefano has an excellent culinary reputation and, needless to say, it specialises in seafood.
The fishing fleet - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
Porto Santo Stefano is a charming town full of energy and colour. The streets are steep, winding and surrounded by green countryside dotted with fortresses and towers built by the Spanish. These have been well conserved, the main one being Rocca Spagnola built at the end of the 16th century as a symbol of their strong naval history. It is also worth a visit to the Chiesa di Santo Stefano which has been destroyed and rebuilt many times but is home to the statue of Santo Stefano.
Porto Santo Stefano
The town - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
City of Monte Argentario
Population density: 214.6 per square km
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