The Towers and Fortresses of Argentario

“I am Capalbio, made glad by the Sienese Lion”
7 Ottobre 2014
The legends of San Rabano in the Maremma Park
8 Luglio 2014

If you born and live in a specific place, you probably consider it unique in the world. I hope you will forgive who’s writing these few lines about Monte Argentario, if that is the impression you will perceive.
As a matter of fact, it is true: the Monte Argentario promontory is an extraordinary place because of its landscape and its physical, morphological and geographical characteristics. It is actually an island with a rocky and often high coast, set in the middle of the Thyrennian Sea and connected to the mainland by three isthmus. These peculiarities have been both its fortune and misfortune during the centuries.
Innumerable traces confirm the human presence since prehistoric times, but the most visible evidences are the many military constructions scattered along the coast and its hinterland. It’s in the Bronze Age maybe, but surely with the Aldobrandeschi Counts, then later with the Republic of Siena and above all with the Spanish Crown that a defensive system with coastal towers and fortresses was created and reinforced.
After all, it was necessary to defend against wild pirates. Although the first defensive circuit construction, especially in Porto Ercole, was started by Siena, it was Spain that significantly invested in the defensive system. Once obtained the territory of the Reali Presidi di Toscana (Royal presidia of Tuscany) thanks to the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, Spain decided to improve and reinforce what had been built until then, completing a strong defensive system, central outpost in the Thyrennian Sea against the Saracens.
From the end of the Stato dei Presidi (1559-1801), during the Napoleonic France, the promontory coastal defense importance decreased and, except for the construction of a modern fort at the Pozzarello during the first years of the Regno d’Italia (the Kingdom of Italy, 1884-1888), the strongholds started getting the role of “landscape and historical heritage” they have today.
Not all the forts are well-conserved, as the S. Liberata, Cacciarella and Capo d’Omo Towers; only documentary traces remain of some others (Tre di Natale Fortress and Pagatore, Calvello and Pertuso Towers).
Some of them became private estate (as the Cala Grande and Lividonia Towers, the Rocca di Porto Ercole and the Forte Filippo, well-conserved and restored), some others museums ( the Fortezza Spagnola and the Forte Stella), others are waiting to be enhanced (Forte Pozzarello), but all of them are part of the unique nature of Monte Argentario by now.
So, places to visit, panoramic viewpoints, trekking and mountain bike itineraries point of arrival. And then – why not? – splendid settings for #selfie.
Bibliography: G. Della Monaca – D. Roselli – G. Tosi – Fortezze e Torri Costiere dell’Argentario, Giglio e
Giannutri, Pitigliano 1996.
Traduzione Gemma Bancalà