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Photo © Shutterstock.com / Marco Sardi
Photo © Shutterstock.com / Marco Sardi

3 places to go diving in Tuscany

Tuscany underwater is amazing!

Tuscany mightn’t be your first pick for a seaside destination, but Italy’s favourite region isn’t just home to some of its most famous cities and artistic sights. It’s also home to some of its most beautiful and cleanest beaches and dive spots. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of Florence, the Maremma in the region’s south has more than its fair share of incredible dive sights. Here the water is crystal clear and packed with incredible sea life, coral and the odd sunken ship or two.

Contents
  • 1.
    Giannutri Island
  • 2.
    Giglio Island
  • 3.
    Grosseto
1.

Giannutri Island

Giannutri Island
Giannutri Island - Credit: Elisa Scarton Detti

Giannutri Island is a tiny uninhabited island off the Argentario Coast. It is easily reached by boat from Porto Santo Stefano and diving tours can be booked at the seaside port during the summer months. On land, the island has a handful of columns and ruins that date back to the Roman Empire. These days, Giannutri is a protected nature park.

The island has numerous dive sights. The Wreck of Nasim II is perhaps the most spectacular. This merchant ship sunk in 1976 after it collided with nearby rocks. The ship was transporting cars, and divers can explore the wreck and its cargo, as well as meet the odd tuna and amberjack. Nearby, is the wreck of another sunken ship, the Anna Bianca, which also sunk in the 1970s. According to local legend, the ship was transporting drugs and was deliberately sunk to collect on its insurance. In reality, it was transporting pumice stones, and while we don’t know how it sunk, we can see the scars of the explosion that tore the ship’s hull in two.

Giannutri Island doesn’t just offer divers sunken ships. At Punta Secca, you can see giant lobsters and barracudas, while Gli Archetti provides a breathtaking underwater garden of algae and coral that rise almost 2 meters up natural stone arches. The light and incredible visibility make this Giannutri’s most popular dive sight.  

After a day underwater, relax on Giannutri’s beaches before heading back to Porto Santo Stefano for your pick of amazing seaside restaurants along the boardwalk.

1.

Giglio Island

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- Credit: Shutterstock / Lokis

Despite making a name for itself in Italy and internationally, Giglio Island has maintained a good balance between tourist attraction and traditional Tuscan seaside town. Here you can still enjoy the slow pace of island life, while exploring the beaches and beautiful landscape on the back of a Vespa, perhaps.

Giglio Island is a short ferry ride from Porto Santo Stefano and unlike Giannutri, has plenty of restaurants, shops and accommodation options, so you can spend a night or more on the island.

Giglio has plenty of amazing dive sights that can be explored on dive tours available in Porto Santo Stefano or on the island itself. As far as local divers are concerned, Cala Cupa is not only the best local site, but also among the top five dive sites in all of Italy.  A tiny bay with crystal clear water and white sand, Cala Cupa is covered in giant boulders that hide a multitude of coloured fish and crustaceans. The beautiful colonies of yellow sea fans are particularly appealing.

Nearby, the Cala dell’Alume is the place to dive if you want to catch a glimpse of a sea horse or two.

1.

Grosseto

Grosseto Cathedral
Grosseto Cathedral - Credit: Guillem Borrell

The Maremma’s capital is also its shopping and cultural hub. Since the Maremma is pretty rural, don’t expect the likes of Florence or Rome, but this picturesque mini city has some lovely jewellery and clothing stores you won’t find elsewhere, as well as a magnificent Renaissance Duomo and some great restaurants and gelato shops!

Grosseto isn’t on the sea, but its closest beaches and dive sights are just a handful of kilometres away. Le Formiche is by and far the best dive sight in the area. Its name means “ants” in Italian and comes from the three tiny islands, Formica Grande, Formica di Mezzo and Formichino, which define the area. Little more than giant rocks they mark a wonderland of underwater treasures that are one of Tuscany’s best kept secrets.

Divers flock here for the undisturbed shoals of fish and the intact seabed, home to a rainbow of red and yellow sea fans, morays, eels and starfish.

A small lighthouse of the top of one of the ‘islands’ is the last reminder that this was once an important mercantile route. You can still see the remains of more than one shipwreck underwater, but to really appreciate the wealth of archaeological artifacts discovered in this area, visit the Archaeological Museum in Grosseto.

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