Tuscan archipelago

The Tuscan Archipelago is a national park located in front of the coasts of the Tuscan Maremma, protects in the protected area numerous smaller islets and seven major islands: Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Gorgona, Pianosa, Montecristo and Giannutri.

Created in 1996, the Tuscan Archipelago National Park is the largest marine park in the entire old continent, it protects an area of approximately 17,887 hectares of land and 56,766 hectares of sea in front of the coasts of the Tuscan Maremma, in the provinces of Grosseto and Livorno. It is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea and is made up of seven islands: Elba, the largest and most varied, Gorgona, the smallest, Capraia, the most distant, Pianosa, the flattest, Monte Cristo (nature reserve since 1971), the most unspoiled. , Giannutri and Giglio, the southernmost ones. Also included in the protected area are several smaller islets such as the Formiche di Grosseto and some rocks scattered between Tuscany and Corsica. The Tuscan Archipelago extends for a total of 300 km2 and is inhabited by about 30,000 people, mostly residing on the Island of Elba. The territory included in the park, never too inhabited, is almost intact, with still uncontaminated environments, where the vegetation appears in all its colorful splendor. The islands of Capraia, Pianosa, Gorgona, Montecristo and Elba belong to the Province of Livorno, therefore to the Maremma Livornese, corresponding, in part, to the Etruscan Coast. The islands of Giannutri e Giglio are located in front of the promontory of Monte Argentario, on the Silver Coast, belong to the Province of Grosseto, therefore the Maremma Grossetana, are both easily reachable from the central pier of Porto Santo Stefano by means of comfortable and frequent daily navigation services.

The Nature of Giglio Island – Cala del Faraglione – Tuscan Archipelago National Park (Photo by Alessandro Fratini)

The purpose of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park is to safeguard and protect the islands and the sea in order to try to keep the rich fauna and flora heritage intact as much as possible.

During the Ice Age, the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago were connected to the mainland. The presence of man is very ancient (about 50,000 years ago), as evidenced by the numerous archaeological finds found and the deposits of ferrous minerals already exploited by the Etruscans and then by the Romans. Each island has a different and complex geological formation, which has determined unique morphological characteristics for each one: Pianosa and Giannutri calcaree, Elba and Giglio granite-calcareous, Capraia volcanic, Montecristo and Gorgona granite. The islands, although different from each other, share one main feature: the spectacular wild nature of the landscape.

Kayaking in Pianosa Island – Tuscan Archipelago National Park (Photo by Roberto Miliani)

The flora and fauna of the park are unique in their kind, creating a variety of natural environments with many habitats populated by various forms of life. The predominant vegetation in the park consists of the very fragrant Mediterranean Macchia (like almost all of the Tuscan Maremma), in which there are numerous wild rabbits, perfectly settled Sardinian mouflons and other terrestrial mammals typical of the Mediterranean environment. There are many species of migratory birds that choose the Maremma islands as a resting and nesting point; colonies of shearwaters and gulls stand out, including the rare Corsican gull – protected by European directives – which is the most authentic symbol of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.

In the national park it is possible to practice various water sports, such as sailing and kayaking. The spectacular marine environment, very rich and delicate, is the half of numerous underwater excursions for the beauty of the seabed; it is included in the Sanctuary for the Pelagos Marine Mammals of the Mediterranean which protects, in addition to the beautiful sea of the Tuscan Archipelago, also a vast area of the upper Tyrrhenian Sea.

Resources on the Tuscan Archipelago National Park