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Gorgeous Giglio

by Elena Guarneri last modified 2008-08-05 08:28

One of the hidden treasures of the Mediterranean, the Isle of Giglio is just an hour from Tuscany's Porto Santo Stefano yet in many respects it could be part of a very different time scale. Join us as we discover the delights of this island in the sun . . .

Gorgeous GiglioLate spring, early summer is the ideal time to treat yourselves to a few days on Tuscany's Isle of Giglio when the island becomes an explosion of colours and smells.
Giglio, along with Elba, Capraia, Montecristo, Giannutri, Pianosa and Gorgona is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Europe's largest marine park. Legend has it that the islands are precious stones fallen from Venus' crown into the sea. And indeed the crystal-clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea cover a treasure throve of rare red coral and colourful sponges, a divers' paradise inhabited by octopus, seals, bream, seahorses and even sperm whales!

Life's a beach
Those of you who prefer to stay on dry land won't be disappointed by Giglio's collection of coves and bays. The best way to get to some of the more secluded beaches is by canoe, though you can always don your trekking shoes and head off down the rocky slopes to your favourite sunspot. Not the sporty type? Don't worry, Cannelle, Caldane, Arenella and Campese beaches are all worth visiting and close to hand. Campese beach is on the more touristy west coast of the island and boasts views of Faraglione rock stack and the imposing Medici Tower. Not far from the beach there's an excellent campsite overlooking the emerald green waters of the sea below.

Getting there
Two ferry companies (Toremare and Maregiglio) connect the island to the mainland at Tuscany's Porto Santo Stefano. If you're lucky enough to have - or charter - your own boat you can look forward to the stunning views as you come into the tiny port with its colourful houses and magnificent Saracen Tower dating from 1596. Keep sailing around the corner where another surprise awaits you - the Saracen's cove. The walls peeping out of the water make up the moray eel farm and were originally part of an important Roman Villa built in I-II BC by the Domizi Enobarbi family.
Car hire is the only real option if you want to tour the island as the public transport which links the island's main resorts - the port, Giglio Castello and Campese - is somewhat infrequent. With your own transport you can take detours off the main road. Whatever you do, a stopover in Giglio Castello is an absolute must. This picturesque walled town counts some ten towers and an even higher number of excellent restaurants, where during the summer nights, if you are fortunate enough, you may happen on an impromptu concert given by one of the many Italian singer-songwriters who have holiday homes here.
A word of advice before you go. Don't leave the island without tasting some of the local wine, Ansonaco. But be warned - one sip and you may never leave . . .
Links - - The tourist board's official site.
Toremar - - The ferry company (in Italian only)
Maregiglio - - The ferry company (in Italian only)

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