On the Argentario Promontory, you will find the charming seaside village of Porto Ercole. The harbor here is surrounded by different hills, each of them lined with colorful buildings. The Rocca Spagnola (the Spanish Fortress) dominates the landscape here.
A little history
If we delve into the history of Porto Ercole, we have to go back as far as the Etruscan times. It was not until 1296 that the town actually began to take shape. It was then that Margherita Aldobrandeschi – the countess of Savona – ordered the construction of the Torre di Terra. The Republic of Siena overtook the harbor in the 15th century, which leads to the development of the medieval city walls that you can still find surrounding parts of Porto Ercole. This includes a gothic gate with a clock tower that you can admire in the historic center of Porto Ercole.
Afterwards the town was taken over by the Spanish, which held the town under a client state called ”Stato dei Presidi.” This lead to the development of the fortresses of Forte Santa Caterina, Forte Stella, and Forte Filippo.
Nowadays, especially during the summer time, Porto Ercole is a very popular tourist destination. The primary reasons for this are the beautiful bays and beaches that you find nearby. And the lively seaside promenade that has a number of different restaurants and bars. However, there is much more to see:
The Palazzo dei Governanti
One of the most interesting pieces of architecture of the village of Porto Ercole is without doubt the Palace of the Governors (the Palazzo dei Governanti). The building was constructed in the second half of the sixteenth century and originally served as the residence for its Spanish rulers, the lords of the State of the Garrisons.
Originally, the building was much larger, but after the bombing during the Second World War, the size of the building has been significantly reduced. The building stands on the main square of Porto Ercole, offering some tremendous viewpoints. It is a building that is built in the late Renaissance style and the facade is characterized by the presence of vaults, capitals, and pilasters.
In the heart of the old town of Porto Ercole, you will find the Aldobrandeschi Fortress. This was originally constructed by the aristocratic family of Aldobrandeschi, who were the lords of Argentario since the early medieval period. La Rocca Aldobrandesca draws some interest because of the irregular star shape. Tthe architecture has elements that bring the style of the Renaissance and the second half of the sixteenth century together.
La Chiesa di Sant’Erasmo
This understated church is dedicated to the patron saint of sailors. The current detailed gables and faded cream façade were added in later centuries. Even though the church itself is not going to blow you away, it is charming and quaint. Instead, it is going to draw you in because of the tombstones of noted Spanish officials inside.
The tombstones are carved with Spanish inscriptions and are made out of marble. They are also decorated with various coats of arms. The workings here are extremely refined and exquisitely detailed. Because the church is rarely open to the public, it is a good idea to check with the tourism board beforehand to see whether it is actually open. You would not want to waste a trip for nothing.
Where to eat
When trying to find a place to eat in Porto Ercole, you have plenty of options. One of the favorites is Ristorante “Il Gatto e la Volpe.” You can find the restaurant on the right side of the road going towards the port. It offers amazing panoramic views over the bay and the structure is gorgeous. You can find great traditional deserts and enjoy some homemade pasta with seafood.
Another great option is “Osteria dei Nobili Santi.” This is a small, friendly fish restaurant that you can find in the old town of Porto Ercole. It has an excellent selection of local dishes to enjoy. The antipasti are both abundant and delicious.
Finally, try Ristorante “La Ribotta.” This is close to the old town of Porto Ercole, and is renowned for its romantic inner ambiance. Meanwhile, the outside offers a gardened panoramic terrace. There is a good range of fish dishes and a wide variety of marine cuisine.
A luxury stay
Located on the Monte Argentario Peninsula, on a cliff top in Porto Ercole, you can find one of the best luxury hotels in the entire region. It offers a Michelin-starred restaurant, a swimming pool, and a private rocky beach.
You have a choice of two restaurants, the Pelligrill Restaurant (a Tuscan restaurant with sea views), and the Michelin-starred Il Pellicano gourmet restaurant. You can get a range of beauty treatments, massages, boutiques, and fitness equipment at the Pelliclub Health & Beauty spa center.