Tuscany conjures visions of rolling hills, neatly lined vineyards, picturesque villages and rustic country homes, but another side exists to this region of Italy. Beyond the hills, Tuscany rambles westwards until it falls into the sea. Fringing the beautiful coastline is the Tuscan Archipelago — perfect to discover on an Italian luxury yacht charter.
For those craving the flavours of Tuscany combined with picturesque anchorages, Tuscany by the sea delivers
Legend has it that the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago – Gorgona, Capraia, Elba, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri – were the pearls of a necklace that belonged to the goddess Venus; when it fell into the sea and they transformed themselves into these seven beautiful islands.
The Tuscan Archipelago and surrounding waters are protected as part of a national park, with a couple of spots particularly prized for diving around the islands of Capria and Pianosa. Thus, a perfect area for a luxury yacht holiday in Italy. Pianosa Island, a former prison, the island is pristine, but you need to remember to request permission from the local authorities to be able to go ashore and explore. Since the prison on Pianosa closed in 1997, the island is all but uninhabited, but eerily empty prison buildings are a reminder of these islands’ not-so distant history.
Several of the archipelago’s islands held prisoners captive before captivating tourists with their beauty. In fact, the northernmost and smallest island in the chain, Gorgona, is still a penal agricultural colony and has been since 1869. Its residents expunge their crimes by producing sought-after goods, including a prized white wine.
Farther south is the stunning nature reserve of Montecristo, made famous as the site of a hidden treasure in Alexandre Dumas’s classic The Count of Monte Cristo. The island’s history with pirates and steep hills redolent with thyme captured the author’s imagination. During a few months a year, up to 1,000 visitors are granted a permit for a guided tour of the islet that the Italians have nicknamed ‘the island that doesn’t exist’ as so few have set foot on it. Only about four square miles, the island is far from the coast and protected by steep granite cliffs.
Closer to the mainland but nearly as treacherous is Giglio Island. This Tuscan isle had its day in infamy as the site of the cruise ship Costa Concordia shipwreck. The same rocks that proved deadly to the cruise ship and other ships before her are also an attraction for fish and divers, however. With challenging hiking trails and underwater caves, Giglio is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
Close by is the Argentario Peninsula, regarded by locals as practically an island itself with lovely private coves and excellent dive sites. This blend of secluded inland charm and peaceful spots found by sea perfectly captures the allure of this part of the Tuscan coast. For yachtsmen craving the flavours of Tuscany combined with wild, windswept beaches, picturesque anchorages and quiet islands, Tuscany by the sea delivers.