Built to protect the narrow strip of land, which leads to Argentario, the town of Orbetello was, up to half a century ago, still protected by strong ramparts and separated from the mainland apparently being an island.
In the 16th century, Orbetello represented the very nucleus of the “Stato dei Presidi” which included Argentario. From 1517 onwards it became the essential fulcrum for Spain in central Italy and posed awkward problems for its adversaries. It was of great military importance in the 16th and 17th centuries explaining the formidable fortifications built there and along the whole coast of Argentario, especially in defence of Porto Ercole.
In 1815, after the Treaty of Vienna, Orbetello became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; at the beginning of the 20th century the town enjoyed its most glorious period and its fame spread overseas thanks to the Transatlantic sea-plane crossings which departed from the lagoon at Orbetello – in 1933 Italo Balbo’s sea plane left from Orbetello to cross the Atlantic ocean for the first time ever.
Things to see in Orbetello
- Sea-plane station from which Italo Balbo’s sea-planes left for their Atlantic crossings
- Polveriera Guzman, which often houses exhibitions
- The gateway of Orbetello in Hispano-gothic style
- The Windmill surrounded by water in front of the town
- The 8th century Duomo with biblical symbolic panels