The Transparent Water of the Giglio Island – Tuscan Archipelago Maremma Toscana (Photo by Giancarlo Laffranchi)

Isola del Giglio is a natural beauty of great charm, made up of beaches, hidden coves, crystal clear waters and a wonderful landscape. Located in front of the Argentario, it is one of the major attractions of the Tuscan Maremma.

The island of Giglio is the second of the Tuscan Archipelago, both by extension (21,21 sq km) and by population, it stands out in front of Monte Argentario, only 14 kilometers away, along the Silver Coast. It is one of the most beautiful and interesting attractions in the whole of the Tuscan Maremma, with a culture and a lifestyle that differ radically from those on the mainland. Elliptical in shape, it is completely mountainous and granite (the highest elevation is the Poggio della Pagana, 496 meters, almost in the center of the island), with mostly impervious coasts, interrupted by some bays, coves and white beaches. It is crossed by warm water currents that ensure a mild climate all year round, suitable for growing grapes. The seabed that surrounds it is an ideal place for scuba diving, with the clear sea of countless colors and the variety of life forms. There are three inhabited centers: Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello (seat of the municipality) and Giglio Campese, well connected by the only asphalted road (about 12 kilometers long) that runs through the whole island and by an efficient bus service. The predominant vegetation on the island of Giglio is made up of the Mediterranean scrub, with conifers, oaks, chestnuts, rock roses, mastic trees, myrtles and heather. The fauna includes numerous migratory birds, wild rabbits and a colony of perfectly settled Sardinian mouflons. The only amphibian is the Sardinian Discoglosso, a particular frog with a limited distribution. The southern part of the island and the western coastal area are protected land areas within the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.

According to scholars, the etymology of the name Giglio comes from the Latin “lilium” (lily), while another hypothesis, more scientifically accredited, suggests the derivation from the Greek “aegilion” (goat).

The Port of Isola del Giglio – Marmma Toscana (Photo by faillavin)

Ansonaco del Giglio: An Ancient and Precious Wine

On the island of Giglio, with the system of terraces, Ansonica del Giglio has been cultivated with great difficulty for centuries, the vine that gives rise to a fine robust and aromatic wine, Ansonaco, today of limited production. Already known by the Romans, this amber wine of 14 degrees (it can also reach an alcohol content of 16-17 degrees) is very rare and only those who have a friend from Giglio can be sure to enjoy some excellent glasses. In the past decades the grapes were pressed in typical stone constructions: the palmenti. The must flowed into the tank in front, dug into the impermeable rock, and from there into the barrels where it was collected. This particular technique certainly originates from the very similar one used by the Etruscans in the so-called pestarole.

How to get to the island of Giglio

Getting to the island of Giglio is very easy, boarding is at the entrance to Porto Santo Stefano. The crossing takes about an hour, with connections from the Maregiglio and Toremar companies. On the island, the Rama bus company connects Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello, Giglio Campese, the Campese campsite and the Hotel Monticello to the Arenella beach with two bus lines. To bring the car to the island it is recommended to book the ferry in advance, especially on weekends or in the high season months, July and August. During the summer, cars registered in Italy must have the appropriate municipal permit(cost of the authorization: Euro 15.00). The landing fee to enter the Giglio island is Euro 1.50 for each person. On the island it is possible to rent cars, motorcycles, boatmen and boats; taxi services with up to 8 seats are also available.

The Origins of the Island of Giglio

The origins of Giglio are very ancient. The island was inhabited in ancient times and frequented by the Greeks, the Etruscans, who lived there, and the Romans, who exploited the granite quarries. Belonging to the noble Roman family of Domizi Enobarbi, who built a monumental villa there in the 1st century BC, in the 9th century it was donated by Charlemagne to the Tre Fontane Abbey, and in the 13th century it became part of the Pisan domains. Belonging to different lordships, it was sacked and practically depopulated by the pirates of Khayr ad-Din, known as Barbarossa, who in 1544 deported a large part of the population; as many as seven hundred inhabitants were deported as slaves to Algiers. Bought in 1558 by Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I de ‘Medici, it then followed the fate of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Resources on the Island of Giglio