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The secrets of Montecristo, a mysterious and wild island

A journey through this mysterious haunt on the Tuscan Archipelago

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Montecristo is open to visitors who have obtained prior permission from the Ministry of Agricultural Policy. Once the hunting grounds of the Savoy family, it became a natural reserve in the 1970s and has since been nominated a biogenetic reserve by the Council of Europe. Montecristo has a surface area of 10.4 km and a costal perimeter of 16 km. It is a natural jewel whose only inhabitants are the island guard’s family. In the summer, the island also hosts an agent or two of the National Forestry Service. Every tourist in the area dreams of being able to soak up the wild atmosphere of this island. Who would not want to take in its crystalline seaside while dreaming of its legendary treasure? About a thousand permits a year are issued by Follonica’s National Forestry Service, which allow for daily visits to the island.


Montecristo is the wildest and most solitary island in Tuscany, although attempts to inhabit it go as far back as Etruscan times. Its history begins with the foundation of an important abbey, founded by the followers of Saint Mamiliano, who sojourned on the island as a hermit in the V century. By the mid 1500s, the Saracens attacked the Monastery which brought about its decline. After various attempts to colonize Montecristo in 1878, after the Unification of Italy, a penal prison was established there. In 1899, the island became the exclusive hunting grounds of Vittorio Emanuelle III, a role it retained until 1971 when it was declared a Nature Reserve. The island was the setting of some key scenes from the celebrated novel The count of Montecristo by French author Alexandre Dumas. The story’s protagonist finds a legendary treasure that he uses to plot his own formidable revenge.


The cave of San Mamiliano is a sacred place located on the Island of Montecristo in the Tuscan Archipelago. The island’s monastic vocation has its roots in the mid-fifth century and it is linked to the figure of St. Mamiliano, the bishop of Palermo. According to tradition, the saint came to the island with other monks in efforts to escape an attack by the Vandals. Along the slopes of Monte della Fortezza (where you can find the remains of a fort built by the Appiani population in the late fourteenth century), you’ll find the cave which is said to have been the abode of the holy hermit. According to devout legend, the saint killed a dragon there, using a cross as his shield. Inside, there are numerous votive offerings that bear witness to the pilgrimages of sailors and pilgrims throughout the centuries.


‘Lo Scoglio d’Affricaì’ or ‘Formica di Montecristo’ is a small island in the Tuscan Archipelago, which is situated in open waters between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Channel of Corsica. It is to the west of the Island of Montecristo, south of Pianosa and east of Corsica. Administratively speaking, it belongs to the Municipality of Campo in Elba. Due to its size and geographical configuration, it can be considered an outcropping located in a shallow part of the sea. Geologically it belongs to a marine ridge linked to Pianosa Island and Capraia.