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Sant'Andrea, Marciana, Elba Island, Livorno. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Islands of the Tuscan Archipelago

The Tuscan Archipelago is a group of islands located between the Tuscan coast and Corsica, it consists of seven main islands and several smaller islets with a total area of 300 sq. km. The largest island of the archipelago is the island of Elba (225 sq km, 31.000 inhabitants), which alone accounts for more than two thirds of the total area of the islands of the archipelago.

The other main islands are the Giglio (23.8 sq. km, 1450 inhabitants), Capraia (19 sq km, 385 inhabitants), Montecristo (10.3 sq km, population 2), Pianosa (10.3 sq km, uninhabited), Giannutri (2.3 square kilometers, 10 inhabitants) and Gorgona (2.2 sq. km, 150 inhabitants). Among the minor islands are: Palmaiola Cerboli placed in the channel of Piombino, near the island of Elba, the Formiche of Grosseto located north of Monte Argentario, the Scoglio d’Affrica or Formica di Montecristo located west of Montecristo, and other minors rocks.

Populated since ancient times, settled first by the Etruscans and Greeks and then the Romans. During the Middle Ages were occupied by the Byzantines, the Lombards and finally by Pisans, the latter heavily fortified. Later the islands were occupied by various powers. Some islands were part of the domains of the Appiani of Piombino (Elba, Montecristo and Pianosa). The island of Capraia was held from the fifteenth century by the Genovese. In the sixteenth century most of the archipelago became a possession of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, but part of the island of Elba was incorporated in the State of Presidi. The island of Elba also saw a brief interlude (3 March 1814-26 February 1815) of the domain independent and residence of Napoleon.

Cala Rossa, Capraia. Autore Raisdragut. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

Cala Rossa, Capraia. Author Raisdragut

Most of the islands are mountainous with rugged coastline and overlooking the sea, but both in island of Elba and of Giglio island there are several beaches. The islands of Capraia and Pianosa were penal colonies, and the island of Gorgona still is. The isolation of some islands, such as Montecristo, the destination of some of them as a penal colony, has allowed the preservation of the environment and the nature of the islands, rich in maquis shrubland and all part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.

Some islands, such as Elba, Giglio and Capraia, can be reached by ferry: Search Ferry to the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. For the others such as Montecristo, Pianosa, Gorgona and Giannutri you must first obtain a special permit.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • AA. VV. “Toscana” Guide Rosse Touring Club Italiano, 2007
  • Barsotti, Gianfranco “Flora, vegetazione ed ambiente delle isole dell’arcipelago toscano” Pacini Editore, 2013
  • Belcari, Riccardo “Romanico tirrenico. Chiese e monasteri medievali dell’arcipelago toscano e del litorale livornese” Pacini Editore, 2010
  • Muscari, Paola; Cunico, Mariapia “Arcipelago nascosto. Giardini, aranceti, carceri, torri e fortezze delle isole dell’arcipelago toscano” Olschki, 2012
  • cur Pasquinucci M. “Guida archeologica della provincia di Livorno e dell’arcipelago toscano. Itinerari tra archeologia e paesaggio” Nardini, 2009
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