Porto Santo Stefano, Italy
Monday 12th July
Mark’s mobile rang at 6 am and woke me so I decided to head out for an exploratory walk before it became too scorching. It was another hot day already at this hour. I ventured down the stairs to the harbour front and walked around to the other harbour area, just around a small bend. I was on the hunt for the so called ‘tourist office’ but could only find a Hertz outlet. I was home by 7am but in a semi molten state.
Most museums etc are closed on Mondays and we did not have enough information about the local boat trips so that somewhat curtailed our possible activities for the day. We decided to take one of the day trips I had researched: to explore the peninsula and surrounds of Monte Argentario, the headland on which we and Porto Santo Stefano are located. Tom was not impressed as he was still a bit scarred from the drive in here and did not want to get back in the car again! We managed to motivate him and set off by 11 am after their ritual bacon and egg breakfast.
We eventually found the Touristica Office, but with much difficulty, and obtained the long-awaited map of the peninsula and info about boat trips. Our first stop on our journey then was at the Convento del Frati Passionisti, a convent dating back 300 years and with spectacular views back to the mainland. It is located a few km out of Porto Santo Stefano and just off via Panoramic, the main road that pretty well circumnavigates the headland. We then drove around a bit further and had lunch at Porto Ercole, a pretty little harbour on the southern side of the Island. A very ordinary and expensive lunch though…31 euros for rolls with soft drink! There were amazing remnants of a 16th Century Spanish Fortress and Walls flanking the steep escarpment on both sides of the bay. From there we back tracked around to Orbetello, located along the stretch of land that connects Monte Argentario to the mainland. Orbetello was once an Etruscan Harbour (pre-Roman) but most of the ancient walls seen now just date back to the Spanish occupation (1557- 1808). This whole region is hugely significant for its Etruscan history and we are to explore more of this on Wednesday when we drive out to Pitigliano and Orvietto.
We then drove home and had a few hours cooling down by the pool before heading back down to the Port area to buy some more beer, check for Internet, and book tomorrow’s cruise out to some neighbouring islands. We were 50 min and parked in a 1 hr spot but we were given a parking ticket. No one else around us was and I was beginning to take this personally. Another short but steep learning curve that we’ll embark on no doubt. From there we drove home for a ‘night in’ with a home cooked meal.