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The islands of the Tuscan archipelago represent a unique and wonderful world to explore during your holidays. Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri and Gorgona are the seven islands that make it up, all different from each other, both naturalistically and for what they have to offer visitors. The islands represents the National Park of the Tuscan archipelago, which is the largest marine park in Europe and are part of the Pelagos Sanctuary for marine mammals, a protected marine area established thanks to an agreement between Italy, the Principality of Monaco and France.
An ancient legend tells that the islands of the Tuscan archipelago are the pearls of the necklace of Venus, goddess of beauty who, emerging from the marvelous waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, dropped from the necklace that bore seven pearls around her neck, which became these gorgeous islands.
If you want to know how to visit the Tuscan archipelago, follow our advice, we are sure that you too will find your favorite island!
The largest of the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago is Elba. The island offers a variety of different landscapes: long golden beaches, small white gravel coves, cliffs overlooking the sea, romantic fishing villages, historic buildings and the remains of ancient civilizations. The presence of countless historical and cultural testimonies, combined with the extraordinary beauty of nature, makes Elba a place to be discovered among the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago.
What to see on Elba Island?
The islands of the Tuscan Archipelago are well represented by Elba, a paradise of the sea with many faces. Not to be missed: the towns of Capoliveri, Rio nell’Elba, Marciana and Porto Azzurro, as well as the remains of the Etruscan civilization, castles and historic residences, such as Napoleon’s house. To explore also the ancient metal mines of the “Elba Island Mining Park”. The most beautiful beaches are those of Sansone and Padulella in Portoferraio, Cavoli and Fetovaia in Campo nell ‘Elba, Laconella in Capoliveri, Nisportino in Rio nell’Elba and Sant’Andrea a Marciana.
How to get to Elba Island?
Elba is the island of the Tuscan archipelago best connected thanks to the numerous daily ferry and hydrofoil rides that depart from Piombino. One-day organized mini-cruises sail from Castiglione della Pescaia.
The islands of the Tuscan Archipelago also include the island of Giglio, positioned in front of the Argentario Promontory. In recent years, the place has become tragically known due to the sinking of the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship that, following a collision with a rock, sank, causing deaths and injuries. The island of Giglio is, however, famous above all for its marvelous clear sea and for its seabed rich in fish.
What to see on the island of Giglio?
At Giglio, visit the capital Giglio Castello, a medieval village located in the highest area, the town of Giglio Porto, the commercial heart of the island, and, in the western part, the town of Giglio Campese, much frequented by tourists fascinated by the famous cliff and by sunsets among the most beautiful of the Tuscan archipelago. The beaches where to go for a swim are Arenella Bay on the north-eastern coast, the Cannelle beach just south of Giglio Porto and that of Campese, the largest on the island.
How to get to the island of Giglio
Giglio is one of the islands of the Tuscan archipelago reachable throughout the year with an hour of navigation starting from Porto Santo Stefano. In summer, day trips are organized, some of which depart from Castiglione della Pescaia.
The southernmost of the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago is Giannutri, called “Artemisia” by the Greeks and “Dianium” by the Romans for its unmistakable arch shape. Giannutri is a limestone island with a very jagged coast, rocky and rich in caves. The extraordinary marine environment, the exceptional transparency of the water and the presence of wrecks make the depths of Giannutri unique. In the island there are no countries, but only tourist residences or houses frequented during the summer season.
What to see on the island of Giannutri?
For diving enthusiasts, the islands of the Tuscan archipelago are a pleasant surprise. In Giannutri, for example, it is possible to explore the depths to see the wreck of the Anna Bianca lying in the northern part of Cala Ischiaiola. On foot, a walk is recommended up to the remains of the Roman Villa built in the 2nd century AD. In the island many areas are protected, therefore navigation, fishing, diving and mooring of boats are authorized only in certain areas.
How to get to Giannutri?
Like other islands of the Tuscan archipelago, Giannutri can be reached all year round, with an hour of navigation, starting from Porto Santo Stefano. During the summer, several shipping companies organize mini-cruises. The island is no longer in a contingent regime, therefore access is no longer restricted to a limited number of visitors.
All the islands of the Tuscan archipelago have an uncontaminated nature, which reigns wildly on the Island of Montecristo, a small jewel of the sea covered with Mediterranean scrub. Since 1971, Montecristo is an Integral State Natural Reserve, created with the aim of protecting this wonderful environment. A legend tells that San Mamiliano, after being enslaved, managed to escape and take refuge on the island where he lived in solitude and meditation in a cave, renaming the island in “Mons Christi”. The island was also made famous by the famous novel by Alexander Dumas “The Count of Montecristo”, which tells of a treasure hidden in a cave right in Montecristo.
What to do on the island of Montecristo?
The coasts overlooking the sea do not allow an easy landing on the island. These conditions have favored the flourishing of flora and fauna. Among the most characteristic animals you can spot there is the wild goat, probably imported by ancient navigators. Like other islands of the Tuscan archipelago, Montecristo is also an important place of refuge for migratory birds including the Corsican gull, the lesser berta and the rare golden eagle. The only building on the island is the forester, this is the Villa Reale in Cala Maestra, now home of a small Naturalistic Museum. The Island of Montecristo is strongly protected and, in fact, bathing is prohibited.
How to reach the island of Montecristo?
At Montecristo, access to land is limited in number, and visits to the island require authorization from the Carabinieri Biodiversity Group of Follonica.
Pianosa, among the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, is the one that stands out for having an almost totally flat area. Its greatest elevation, in fact, only reaches 29 meters above sea level. The existence of the maximum security prison until 1997 made the island inaccessible and this made it possible to maintain most of the natural heritage of the place. The seabed is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled, thanks to the particular morphology of Pianosa which makes the shallow waters an ideal habitat for the Posidonia meadows and the numerous fish.
What to see on the island of Pianosa?
The final closure of the prison took place in 2011, since then, some restrictions placed to visit the island have ceased. Some limitations remain, but the absolute ban on landing is over. Now, Pianosa can be visited and the new Casa del Parco in Villa Literno was inaugurated, revived as a guesthouse for researchers and has become a tourist information point.
How to get to the island of Pianosa?
To reach this beautiful island of the Tuscan archipelago, guided tours are organized for a limited number. Departures take place all year with different shipping companies.
The Island of Capraia is the most maritime of the islands of the Tuscan archipelago, being at a distance of over 50 km from the continental coast, therefore closer to Corsica than to Tuscany. In the late 1980s, when the penal colony was closed, Capraia began to open up to tourism by offering all its natural and historical beauties. Capraia is considered a small geological paradise, as it is the only volcanic island of the Tuscan Archipelago. There are two inhabited centers: the town on the port and the oldest village near the fort of San Giorgio.
What to see on the island of Capraia?
The steep coasts overlooking the sea and the striking rocks marked by wind and sea erosion, document the succession of eruptions and lava layers. All this is clearly visible in the famous Cala Rossa, perhaps one of the most particular coves of the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago with its rocky walls shaped like a truncated cone with colors ranging from red to black. The seabed is often a destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. Capraia also offers numerous sites of historical interest that can be visited thanks to paths and mule tracks.
How to get to the island of Capraia?
Capraia is among the islands of the Tuscan archipelago that can be reached all year round departing from Livorno, while during the summer numerous shipping companies also depart from San Vincenzo.
The smallest of the Tuscan archipelago’s islands is the Isle of Gorgona, Italy’s last penitentiary island. Since 1869 Gorgona hosts an agricultural penal colony, where inmates operate out of the cells, working in a vegetable garden or in the vineyard and taking care of the animals, thus producing wine, cheese and honey. Located in the Ligurian Sea, Gorgona is characterized by a mountainous type of territory, covered by dense Mediterranean vegetation. The uncontaminated nature and the clear and clean sea have allowed the proliferation of very rare marine species.
What to see on the island of Gorgona?
The coast of Gorgona is characterized by numerous inlets, the most striking of which are: Cala Scirocco, where the Bove marino Cave opens up, once a refuge for monk seals, Cala Maestra and Cala Martina. On the island there are two fortifications that are the Old Tower, an ancient building built to carry out sighting and defensive functions, and the New Tower, located along the east coast.
How to get to the island of Gorgona?
Being a prison island, until recently Gorgona could be visited only by prior reservation and the sea area surrounding the island was forbidden to tourism. From 2016, following the drafting of a memorandum of understanding between the Municipality of Livorno, the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago Islands and the Livorno Prison Directorate, guided tours departing from Livorno are permitted.