Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

‘My Monte Argentario’ by Giulia Ruberti

A local’s guide to discovering the charm of the island’s west coast

View from Giulia's house
When gallery director and friend of ISSIMO Giulia Ruberti isn’t in Rome, she’s revelling in the serenity and breathtaking views at her home on the west coast of Monte Argentario, the opposite side of the island to Hotel Il Pellicano. “We often joke that it’s like ‘east coast and west coast’,” says Giulia, who met our CEO and Creative Director Marie-Louise Sciò through their mutual connection with, and love for the island.
Giulia Ruberti, My Monte Argentario

What is your connection to this side of Monte Argentario?

Giulia Ruberti: My family has had a house there for a long time, about 40 years. It’s located on Via Panoramica, the same road that can also take you to Hotel Il Pellicano, but on the opposite side. My place is very secluded with a beautiful view framed with pine trees, it looks like a painting. My family, my sister’s family and our friends all meet there every summer. It’s our special place and it’s filled with beautiful memories.

Do you go there throughout the year? Or just in specific seasons?

G: We are of course there every summer, but we also go in the winter too. We love it just as much in winter!

What makes this side of the island so special in your opinion?

G: Probably the main difference between my side and the Hotel Il Pellicano side is the sunsets and the view. The view is incredible. On a clear day, you can see some of the other islands in the Arcipelago Toscano like Giglio and Monte Cristo, and you can even see Sardegna and a little bit of Corsica sometimes too.

What are some things you love to do out in nature around your place?

G: There are things to do and discover all year round. We especially love the beautiful hikes like the one that takes you to Torre di Capo d’Uomo. You can also explore the Via Panoramica and venture down the gravel roads to discover some of the more rustic walking paths that offer a completely undisturbed experience in nature.

There is an incredible sense of calmness and serenity in nature and you never feel ‘crowded’, even in peak summer season.

What are some things you recommend visitors do when visiting your side of the island?

G: Outside of high season, I recommend that people walk to discover some of the beautiful bays like Cala di Gesso and also to Spiaggia Le Cannelle. May is the perfect time to do this, although you can also go in peak time, but just be prepared for a lot more people! We also suggest people visit a private beach club on the bay quite near our place called Cala Piatti. It has a beautiful restaurant that’s open to everyone in the evening, and it’s my tip for dining in the area. One other recommendation for the area more generally would be to see Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, which is an incredible sculptural ‘Tarot Garden’ created by French-American artist Nikki de Saint Phalle that recalls the alchemy of the tarot cards. It’s a complete mosaic fantasy land in the middle of nature. It’s like a hidden secret and really something worth discovering, especially for those who are curious about art and culture.

When you’re not at your home in Monte Argentario what is one thing you miss most about it?

G: When I’m in the city I miss the feeling of isolation and being in contact with nature, and of course the view. When I’m stressed out with work or the pace of city life in Rome, I close my eyes and think of the view and I immediately feel more calm.

Giulia Ruberti's House

Can you suggest some local artisans or producers in your area that we should discover?

G: There’s a place called Alocci in Porto Santo Stefano, which is a beautiful artisanal bread shop and pasticceria. Everything is baked fresh on-site every day, and the pastries are excellent quality. There is also a great place called La Parina for local products like oils, sauces, honey, preserves and other artisanal produce. Everything is bio and homegrown, and you can even eat there and stay there because it’s like an agriturismo. 

What is your favourite dish or recipe that you eat on the island?

G: Definitely something with fish! I love a very classic Spaghetti alle Vongole with bottarga. Where we are based, in a coastal atmosphere, my favourite dish is a fish plate or a nice pesce del giorno, which you know is always going to be caught fresh that morning.

What is one of your favourite day trips from Monte Aregnatio if you are taking a boat out with friends?

G: Giannutri is a beautiful island which is almost all UNESCO-protected. There are only a few houses on there and it’s not an island built for tourism, so the atmosphere is completely calm and peaceful. It’s an island where you go with a boat just to enjoy its waters. 

There is also Giglio, where the water is also always incredible to swim. There is a little bit more activity on Giglio, including a place called Pardini’s Hermitage where you can book a room to stay. Here you can disconnect from reality and become immersed in the natural way of life of the island.

How do you think more people are discovering the west coast of Monte Argentario as a summer holiday destination?

G: I think that initially, it was a destination that was linked to more ‘local’ tourism in Italy given it’s also very close to Rome. Now I think there’s a mix of locals and tourists coming to our locality. It has certainly become popularised, and this is probably also thanks to people coming to the island to stay at Hotel Il Pellicano.

Of course, the water and the coastline are pristine, and people are discovering the magic of the Tuscan coastline as a quieter, more isolated summer destination. Monte Argentario offers such a diverse choice of beaches and places to swim, and it always helps if you know locals who can show you some of the secrets of the island and the peninsula!

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