Gorgona island is the northernmost of the islands of the Tuscany archipelago (43°25’37” lat. North) and also the smallest (2,25 km²), it rises 255 metres above the sea and is mostly mountainous and, for a large area, covered in Mediterranean maquis vegetation, it’s still place for a penal colony.
Gorgona it’s about 37 km from Livorno, 39 km from Capraia and 60 km from Corsica. It’s part of the municipal territory of Livorno. Gorgona has 300 inhabitants convicts comprises (a few families of local fishermen, 120 police officers and about 100 convicts). The island can be reached by ferry, the crossing taking about 1 and a half hours.
Together with the islands of Capraia, Pianosa, Elba, Giglio, Giannutri and Montecristo, it forms the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago. Because of its situation as penal colony the visit to the island is restricted.
Probably the island was colonized by the Etruscans, although no trace of this probable colonization remained, there are signs of a Roman settlement in the area of “Piano dei Morti”.
In the past several monasteries have been built there. The Pisans occupied Gorgona in 1283 and built the still visible “Torre Vecchia” (Old Tower), located atop a cliff overlooking the sea coast Costa dei Cantoni. In 1406 Gorgona was occupied by the Florentine. In 1701 was ceded to the friars “Certosini”, but in 1777 the granduke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, regained possession of the island.
In 1869 the island became a penal colony, and so it is today. This is why, to visit Gorgona, you must obtain permission from the Directorate General of Institutes of Prevention and Punishment of the Ministry of Justice (Direzione Generale degli Istituti di Prevenzione e Pena del Ministero di Grazia e Giustizia).
Tours are organised by the Cooperativa Parco Naturale “Isola di Gorgona”. Sites to visit include: Torre Vecchia, Torre Nuova, Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), the church of San Gorgonio, the Grotta del Bue Marino, the bays of Cala Scirocco and dello Scalo.
To give a first look at Gorgona, you can took the ferry-boat that once a week starting from Livorno stops at Gorgona en route to Capraia.
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