Orbetello - Encyclopedia

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ORBETELLO, a town of Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Grosseto, 24 m. S. by E. of Grosseto by rail, 13 ft. above sealevel. Pop. (1901) 4188 (town), 5335 (commune). It is situated on a tongue of land projecting westward into a lagoon which is enclosed on the W. and S. by two long narrow sandy spits, and on the seaward (S.W.) side by the peninsula of Monte Argentario. A causeway connecting the town with this peninsula was built across the lagoon in 1842. On every side except the landward (E.) side the town is enclosed by an ancient terrace wall of polygonal work, and tombs have been discovered in the vicinity and even within the town itself. On the N. side of the promontory are the remains of a Roman villa partly below sea-level. The town must thus occupy an ancient site, the name of which is unknown. The town still has the bastions which the Spaniards built during the period (1557-1713) when they were masters of this corner of Italy. There is a large convict prison with which is connected another at Porto Ercole, on the east side of the peninsula. The mother house of the Passionist order crowns an eminence of Monte Argentario, now strongly fortified. The salt-water lagoon (II sq. m. in extent), in the middle of which the town stands, abounds in white fish, soles and eels. On the eastern edge of the Monte Argentario is an active manganese iron ore mine, yielding some 30,000 tons per annum.

After the fall of the Republic of Siena, when the territory of Siena passed to Tuscany, Philip II. of Spain retained Orbetello, Talamone, Monte Argentario and the island of Giannutri until 1713, under the name of the Reali Stati dei Presidii. There are still many Spanish names among the inhabitants of Orbetello. In 1713 this district passed by treaty to the emperor, in 1736 to the king of the two Sicilies; in 1801 to the kingdom of Etruria, and in 1814 to the grand-duchy of Tuscany.

See G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (London, 1883), ii. 240; M. Carmichael, In Tuscany (London, 1901), 283, sqq. (T. As.)

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