Tuscan archipelago: what to see in the main islands


What to see in the islands of the Tuscan archipelago, an ideal place for beach holidays with natural and artistic beauties to visit at any time of the year.

Tourist information

The Tuscan archipelago is part of the National Park of the same name and is located between the Ligurian Sea to the north, the Piombino canal to the east, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the south and the Corsica Channel to the west.

Formed by the islands of Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Giannutri, Gorgona, Montecristo, Pianosa and other smaller islands, it is geographically part of the Tuscany region.

Elba island

It is the largest island, about 10 km from Piombino.

Its coasts develop with an alternation of sandy and pebble beaches, rocks and sheer walls.

Monte Capanne, located in the mountainous part west of the island, is the highest mountain in the archipelago (1018 m).

The central part of the island is mostly flat.

To the west there is a hilly area of ​​very ancient geological formation, rich in iron deposits, which since ancient times has fueled an intense mining activity, which ceased in the 80s.

The presence of this mineral marked the history of Elba, as many peoples tried to conquer it.

The island hosted the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who was sent to exile there between 1814 and 1815.

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As evidence of this presence, the official residence of Napoleon and his court, Villa dei Mulini, is located in an excellent position on a promontory in Portoferraio, and his country residence, Villa San Martino, 5 km from Portoferraio.

The two villas can be visited.

Lily island

From an administrative point of view, the island of Giglio is a municipality in the province of Grosseto, the connections with the mainland are in Porto Santo Stefano.

The island's territory is mainly hilly, the highest peak is Poggio Capanna with 496 meters above sea level and is located in the central inner part of the island.

The coast is mostly rocky, except for Campese beach and other smaller beaches, located on the eastern side of the island.

Campese beach, the largest on the island, is located on the west coast, and is enclosed in a bay that looks towards the Elba, Montecristo and Corsica islands.

The bay is bordered at the northern end by the Medicea Torre del Campese and at the southern end by the suggestive faraglione.

This location, the most important on the island, is called "Giglio Campese".

The other towns are Giglio Castello and Giglio Porto.

Giglio Castello, the oldest inhabited center of the island, is a suggestive medieval village located high up, in the central inner part, enclosed by walls dating back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, connected to cylindrical and rectangular towers.

In the ancient village, where the Rocca Aldobrandesca dominates, there are also two churches, the Church dedicated to San Pietro Apostolo, which houses artistic treasures, and the Church of San Giorgio.

Giglio Porto is located on the east coast of the island, where the ferry that connects Giglio to the Argentario docks.

The port, characterized by picturesque houses of various colors, is guarded by the imposing Torre del Saraceno, built in 1596 by Ferdinando I of Tuscany, as a defense against frequent Saracen invasions, which forced many families to abandon the island.

The remains of a Roman Villa belonging to the Domizi Enobarbi are still visible.

Among the monuments of historical interest there is also the Church of the Madonna del Giglio.

What see

Capraia island

Third largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, it is of volcanic origin and is located in the Corsica Channel, between the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Its high and rocky coast, hardly accessible by land, is seen from the sea, with cliffs, jagged and full of caves, on the western side, gentler on the eastern side.

The island is made up of a central chain, the largest relief of which is Monte Castello (447 m).

In the upper internal part there is also a small lake area, the Stagnone della Capraia. The vegetation is very rich and shows some very rare endemic species. In the past, the island has hosted a penal colony.

Giannutri island

It is the southernmost island of the Tuscan Archipelago, belongs to the Municipality of the Island of Giglio.

The island, with the characteristic shape of a crescent, reaches the highest point with Poggio Capel Rosso, 88 m. s.l.m ..

The coast is high and jagged, interrupted by two docks, Cala dello Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra.

Near Cala Maestra there are the precious remains of a large Roman Villa of the second century AD, which had direct access from the sea via a staircase.

From an underwater point of view, the island has very interesting backdrops.

It can be visited, even if private, there are no hotels or campsites, but small private homes can be rented.

Gorgona island

It is the smallest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, it is located in the Ligurian Sea, facing the coast of Livorno.

It is mainly mountainous, the highest elevation reaches 300 meters.

Gorgona has a rich vegetation, characterized by the Mediterranean scrub, it is also populated by a very interesting fauna.

On the island there are the fortifications, the Old Tower, Pisa, the New Tower, the Medici and the fortified Church of San Gorgonio.

Keep in mind that the island of Gorgona is home to a penal colony, therefore navigation, docking and visiting are prohibited, unless specifically authorized.

Montecristo island

Montecristo is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, south of the island of Elba, west of the island of Giglio and Monte Argentario.

From an administrative point of view, the island is part of the municipality of Portoferraio and therefore of the province of Livorno, and is an Integral State Natural Reserve.

The visit is allowed only for study reasons and naturalistic excursions.

To visit the island A permit must be obtained from the Forestry Corps of Follonica.

Visits are guided, only 1000 visitors are allowed per year, and overnight accommodation, fishing, swimming and navigation within one kilometer from the coast are prohibited.

The rugged and wild island territory of granite nature is the custodian of rare endemic plant and animal species.

Completely mountainous, the island reaches its highest point with 650 meters of Monte della Fortezza, where the ruins of the sixteenth-century Fortress of Montecristo are located.

The jagged coast has various rocky protrusions overlooking the sea.

The island is almost completely uninhabited, only a few agents of the State Forestry Corps and two custodians live there.

The only landing point is Cala Maestra, near Villa Reale and the only inhabited buildings on the island, built by an Englishman in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Villa is so called because it hosted Vittorio Emanuele III.

The island of Montecristo is linked to the famous novel, the Count of Montecristo, by the French writer Alexandre Dumas.

Pianosa island

Pianosa Island is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, south west of the island of Elba.

It is administered by the Municipality of Campo nell'Elba, is part of the province of Livorno.

Its territory, formed by sedimentary rocks, is flat.

The coastal stretch is partly rocky and partly sandy.

The island has a rich natural heritage, and interesting underwater archaeological sites from the Roman era.

Some ruins of a Roman villa and the remains of a catacombs system are still visible on the island.

Pianosa is famous for hosting a maximum security penitentiary that has welcomed dangerous members of the Mafia and terrorism.

The prison has been closed since 1998.

Currently there are only some prisoners in semi-liberty and some officers of the prison police.

Unfortunately, the buildings remain in a state of neglect.

It is possible to visit the island through a guided and regulated visit.

Tags: Tuscany