Porto Ercole is a fraction of the Italian town of Monte Argentario, in the province of Grosseto, in Tuscany.
Renowned tourist resort of great seafaring tradition located on the southeastern coast of the Argentario, since 2014 it is part of the most beautiful villages in Italy . With Porto Santo Stefano, it is one of the two main towns that make up the scattered municipality.
The town is located on the eastern side of the Argentario Promontory, just over 40 km south-east of Grosseto, about 7 km south-west of Orbetello and about 12 km from Porto Santo Stefano.
Coming from the main road, before reaching the village there are two fortifications that were part of the defensive system of the promontory, the sixteenth century Forte Filippo, the coeval Torre del Mulinaccio and the eighteenth century Forte Santa Caterina. The historic core is enclosed within the walls erected by the Sienese in the second half of the fifteenth century on the pre-existing structures of the Aldobrandesque period; access is possible through a courteous Gothic door surmounted by a bertesca with the Clock Tower.
The Palace of the Rulers overlooks the suggestive Piazza di Santa Barbara, from which the port is dominated. The building was built by Agostino Chigi in the early sixteenth century, when he rented Porto Ercole from the Republic of Siena, under the project of Baldassarre Peruzzi. Later it was used as a dwelling by the Spanish governors. On the side of the square facing the sea, there is the fifteenth-century Bastion of Santa Barbara.
Through a series of alleys you climb into the oldest part of the country and you reach the Church of Sant’Erasmo, which houses inside the tombs of the Spanish rulers.
Noteworthy is also the Corsini Garden, in which there are numerous tropical and subtropical botanical rarities that have managed to acclimatise perfectly thanks to the extraordinary microclimate of the area.
The town is dominated by the mighty Rocca, which can be reached via a detour from the panoramic road: the fortification was built several times between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period around pre-existing structures. At the north-eastern corner of the fortress rises the nineteenth-century Faro di Porto Ercole.
Continuing along the panoramic road, after passing the descent to the Spiaggia delle Viste in front of the Isolotto, you reach the Sbarcatello area, dominated by the imposing structure of the sixteenth-century Forte Stella, a mighty but elegant six-pointed fortification, each of which in the past, it used to make sightings in the defensive system of the State of the Presidios: from the ancient guard posts it is still possible to see a breathtaking panorama. On the north-west of Forte Stella and west of the town of Porto Ercole stands the fifteenth-century Torre dell’Acqua, while along the coast to the west is distinguishable in a dominant position the farthest Tower Avvoltore.
To its artistic heritage are added the two churches of Sant’Erasmo and San Rocco. The first is located within the ancient walls and extends for two naves, one main and one smaller facing the sea. The facade is in Tuscan style very simple. The interior is severe and solemn: through the portal you enter the main nave, where on the right side there is a pulpit of the eighteenth century. The trusses that support the roof are original of the seventeenth century. On the presbytery there is a beautiful baroque altar in polychrome marble. The choir behind the altar presents a series of seventeenth-century seats and a richly frescoed cross vault, where the Evangelists are depicted on the sails, and in a lunette are the Saints Erasmo (patron saint of the village) and Rocco. The side aisle presents a series of frescoed chapels, where an assumption of the Virgin Mary with Saints Rocco and Pietro di Alcantara, from the Neapolitan school, stands out on a baroque altar. The first chapel is dedicated to Sant’Erasmo, with a splendid painted altar. The statue of the patron is made of papier-mache, with an 18th-century silver pastoral. The church of San Rocco is located outside the walls, specifically at the gates of the new village, perched on a rock spur. The interior has a nave, with richly frescoed barrel vaults and a splendid painted altar. Above the portal there is a plaque made to afflict in the past by Don Antonio Perez, at the end of the first restoration. Inside there is also a fresco depicting San Rocco and the dog.