The Nature Reserve of Orbetello encloses the renowned WWF Sanctuary, one of the oldest and best equipped sanctuaries in Italy, with three nature trails and many facilities for birdwatchers.
The big spanish farmhouse, owned by the naturalistic association, hosts a Visitors Centre, an Environmental Education Centre and guest quarters.
The ornithological itinerary is open from 1 September to 30 April on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. You can freely take the track that reaches the Patanella wood from 9.00 a.m. till dusk or whigh a guided tour that requires booking. From the many observation huts opening on the lagoon, you will be spotting an incredible quantity of birds. It is better to use the huts early in the morning when the light is behind you, to better make out the colors of the plumage and take photos with no backlight problems.
The Visitorars Centre and the Environmental Education Centre are located in the northern tombolo that takes to Mount Argentario.
The Orbetello Lagoon is an ancient sound separated from the open waters by two strips of land, the Tombolo della Giannella and the Tombolo della Feniglia that, starting from the Maremma coast, reach the headland of the Argentario. It is the biggest Tyrrhenian lagoon, which stretches for about 2600 hectares and reaches a maximum depth of 2 meters. A third incomplete tombolo, where the town of Orbetello stands, and the dam that from here reaches Mount Argentario split the wetland in two parts: the eastern lagoon, with the State Nature Reserve of Dun a Feniglia, and the western lagoon, where the WWF Sanctuary is.
The sanctuary protects 300 hectares of salty lagoon that receives, in the northern part, an intake of freshwater from the Albegna River, which enters the sea further north. On the outer shoe, represented by the tombolo of Giannella that separates the sanctuary rrom the sea, dunal vegetation and Mediterranean maquis grow. The inner shore is flanked by a large strip of glasswort and by very thick reeds. To the north, behind the glasswort strip, we find bushes and shrubs overlooked by cork oaks, some of them quite big. Further south, elm, ash, poplar and bramble mix with reeds to form a thick tangle of vegetation tat is a natural screen for visitors between observation huts.
The southernmost part is covered by a suggestive cork oak forest that hosts also holly oaks and maritime pines. A thick Mediterranean maquis forms the undergrowth. On the borders, there are two umbrella pine forests, and from one of them starts a beautiful nature trail, always open to the public. This trail offers also a wonderful opportunity to discover this special part of Tuscany on horseback. Towards the lagoon, there are large expanses of Scotch heathe, a small plant that in autumn blooms with p ink flowers, while the rest of the territory has been variously modified by man with pastures, crops and vegetable fields.
Come to experience this remote region of Maremma Tuscany. It is perfect for walking, mountain biking, cycling and horseback riding. You can stay at the Hotel Prategiano, which enjoys a central position, if you want to get to know the quiet parts of Tuscany. Here you can find more information about cycling holidays in Tuscany offered by the hotel in Maremma Tuscany: Rifugio Prategiano