Here’s the premise: two days to visit Giglio Island will only give you a taste of the place because, I can assure you, once you’ve seen it you’ll never want to leave. However, considering you’ve only got two days to see the Tuscan island, what can you do to make the most of your time there? This post is intended to help all those who have only a few days to visit the island but want to see most of which it has to offer. The idea came about from a recent trip organized by the Infopark of the Tuscan Archipelago, along with Lonely Planet Italia and Radio Capital, a well-known Italian radio that last week transmitted from the islands of the Tuscan archipelago (Capraia, Pianosa and Giglio).
I want to tell you about my experience so that you can take inspiration and understand how to get around by public transport and what to do. Giglio Island is quite small and has public transportation, so you don’t have to bring your car or motorbike, also because there are restrictions for private transportation on the island. First of all, how to get to Giglio Island: I travelled by train to Orbetello - Monte Argentario (the nearest station) and from there, right in front of the station, there are buses that take you to Porto Santo Stefano on Monte Argentario. The bus stops right in front of the ferry: just buy a ticket (or you can do it in advance on the Internet) and hop on. The service is operated by two companies Toremar and Maregiglio: it takes an hour to reach the port of Giglio. The first thing you should know about Giglio Island is that there are three main towns: Giglio Porto where the ferries arrive, Giglio Castello on the top of the hill and Giglio Campese on the west coast of the island. These three towns have accommodation for all tastes, from B&Bs to hotels, from camping to bungalows. Just choose what suits you best and reach it by bus (Tiemme company) or taxi (look for “taxi collettivo”). You can purchase the ticket in the many shops all around the harbour. Head to the tourist information office along a street parallel to the harbour (information centre, see the big “i” outside) to find out more about the island, day trips (to Giannutri Island for example), guided tours, the paths through the park, etc. Now, let’s focus on the main places and things to do.
Giglio Porto is a lively and pleasant place on the east coast with a promenade full of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops with colourful façades and some rocky coves with clear blue sea, also close to the harbour. You will inevitably pass by here, because it is the access point to the island. Piazza della Dogana overlooks the harbour and is considered the main point of the village. In Giglio Porto you can find the Torre del Saraceno (the tower of the Saracen) and the Torre del Lazzaretto (tower of the lazaret). If you want to rent a boat this is the place: just ask at the gazebo on the harbour. In Giglio Porto the shops and the bars are open till night.
Giglio Castello is set on the western side of the island, overlooking Campese Bay. You can recognize it from the top thanks to its big sandy beach bordered to the south by the charming sea stack of Giglio Island, while a sixteenth-century tower called Torre del Campese closes off the northern end. The Torre del Campese was made for the sighting of ships coming from the western side of the island, to give immediate notice to Giglio Castello. This tower is known for the heroic rejection of part of a fleet of pirates, who launched a final assault on the island in 1799. Giglio Campese saw a significant economic boost with the opening of a pyrite mine in 1938, providing many islander families with a livelihood. Mining continued until the final closure in 1962 and today you can see traces of this activity in the old machinery visible from the beach.
In Giglio Campese we went hiking on the trail called “Sentiero n. 15” to reach the “Faraglione” and Cala Pozzarello on the promontory of Franco. This green area is the limestone part of the island and the path along the top of the cliff offers unique views and the crystal-clear waters of Pozzarello Bay. This is a short and quite easy trail: just be careful of the slippery rocks!
We spent an evening in Giglio Castello, a beautiful, ancient hamlet on the top of the hill in the centre of Giglio Island. It is easy to reach thanks to the public bus leaving from Giglio Porto and Giglio Campese. I recommend not leaving the island without visiting it, since it is an ancient medieval borough characterized by majestic walls, a fortress and windy, narrow streets. The medieval village with its imposing 11th-century walls is even more impressive if you walk along the walkways with slits and into its narrow streets with stairs and terraces. The main entrance of the village is characterized by three granite doorways, bearing witness to the times of pirate raids. At the top of the village there’s the imposing 12th -century Rocca Pisana and, on the western side, stands the church of St. Peter the Apostle, restored in the eighteenth century in typical late-Baroque style, but dating to the fifteenth century.
Other things to do on the island
A boat trip
We had the opportunity to take a trip on a sail boat from Giglio Porto to Capo Capel Rosso. The trip isn’t too long but enough to appreciate the coast: you pass in front of some of the most beautiful beaches of Giglio Island, Cannelle beach and Caldane beach. If you don’t have a boat there’s a couple of possibilities: renting one and sailing it on your own or going with a driver. Check out this website. At Giglio Porto there are also gazebos offering tours that leave in front of the harbour.
A dinner in a vineyard
Another fantastic thing to do on Giglio Island is having dinner in a vineyard. We arrived in a isolated place called Scopeto and set a table in front of the sea with a splendid view of Giglio Castello: it’s really romantic.