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Monte Argentario: Bar ristoro "La Sorgente"

Monte Argentario

Closing day: None; open daily 9 am - 10 pm

Reviewed by: Alice Twain from Italy, review #952

When: 2004

A cheap but good place to eat out in the cool and shade of the woods in the middle of Monte Argentario but far from the "VIP" crowds.

Directions: Halfway between Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole, there is a road leading towards the Padri Passionisti convent and Punta Telegrafo. Follow it for approx. 5 km; on your right you will see a small detour to the ristoro.

Not really a restaurant, this ristoro was opened by the Passionisti monks near their central monastery (the first, founded in the XVIII century) and now run independently. You don't eat in a fancy room and with silver knife and fork; you eat on a communal table and with plastic dishes and forks, but under a canopy of trees in a wood that is a welcome respite from the heat and sun of a beach holiday. (Kids will love it because of its total lack of formality).

The ritual of the meal at the Passionisti is simple: first you chose a table and memorize the number written on one side. If all tables are occupied, look for one that has still some free seats: you will be welcome to share (and meet other people). Than walk up the counter and chose your courses from the menu on the wall. Once chosen, you can line up for ordering (one guards the table, another lines, the others chose, than you swap; use a note to keep a list of the chosen foods).

Drinks will be given straight after paying, along with the cutlery and bread, when the food is ready, your table's number will be called and you will be handed a large tray with all the choices.

The food offered is simple with lots of choices for children and for vegetarians (especially first courses), but it is tasty. Water comes from the monastery spring and the wine is either a selection of local products or the monks' own white wine.

We ate there at noon (prices are the same for noon and dinner); we were three and we shared two antipasti (olives and salame), two secondi (boar "bocconcini" with a sauce), two contorni (grilled onions and radicchio salad), had a half liter of the monks' wine (not exceptional but good), a liter of water and three pieces of packaged but good quality gelato for less than 40 total.

After lingering at the table to enjoy the cool and shade we took a short walk to the monastery itself on an easy and cypress-lined road. It afforded great views of the lagoon, the Tombolo della Giannella and of Orbetello before heading on to Porto Ercole to continue our visit.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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