Famous for its fishing and even more famous for its seafood restaurants, Porto Santo Stefano is not that old. It began to take shape in the 15th century under the Republic of Siena, but was constantly under siege from pirates until the Spanish fortified it a century later.
Today Porto Santo Stefano wears this young (in comparison to the rest of the Maremma) but colourful history on its sleeve.
The countryside that surrounds the seaside town is dotted with fortresses and towers built by the Spanish to keep an eye on their many enemies. Beautifully conserved, these relics can be visited all year round.
Sure, Porto Santo Stefano doesn’t hold the same appeal as, say, Montemerano with its gorgeous medieval essence, but its locals are proud anyway, and far too busy admiring their incredible sea panorama and even better culinary reputation to care what others think.
But Porto Santo Stefano isn’t all good food and great views.
Look a little closer and it’s hard not to notice the crumbled walls and ravaged corners. These reminders of the heavy shelling the town suffered during WWII, wounds that are yet to be healed.
Luckily, the odd hole here and cracked facade there doesn’t take away from the overwhelming charm of Porto Santo Stefano.
The town is a working port and with that comes great restaurants, beautiful boats and blissful afternoons spent walking up and down the boardwalk admiring the kitsch knick knack stores and watching the fishermen bring in their afternoon catch.
Porto Santo Stefano is the departure point for all ferries and most private cruises to Giglio Island and Giannutri Island. You can buy your tickets from the various booths at the port.