THE GIANNUTRI ISLAND
The Giannutri Island is the southernmost one in the Tuscan archipelago. It lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea, at about 1 hour and half by ship from Monte Argentario, from which a regular service, starting from Porto Santo Stefano, is available each 25 minutes.
Giannutri pertains to the municipality of the larger Giglio Island, situated at a short distance from it. Giglio Porto is connected to Giannutri by a ship service making a daily excursion, which offers the possibility to spend a whole day visiting the small wild and marvellous island. The island is a marine park protected by the Tuscan authorities in order to preserve its gorgeous flora and marine fauna. It is integrated along with the islands of Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa and Gorgona in the protected Park of the Archipelago of Tuscany.
The rocky island, with its characteristic half-moon shape, covers an area of 260 hectareas (5 kilometres long and 500 metres wide), which includes three impressive rocky hills: Capel Rosso, Monte Mario and Poggio del Cannone. From the summit of Capel Rosso, the highest one, standing at 89 metres above the sea level, only the immensity of the sea can be contemplated, because even in the most transparent days no land troubles so poetical outlook.
The Giannutri Island has a rocky coast with the exception of small stretches of sandy beaches located in the northeast and in the northwest of the island. Along the coast there are many interesting and large grottos. Among them the most noted is the beautiful Gala dei Grottini.
The only two landing spots in the island, Cala Maestra and Cala dello Spalmatoio, are practically uninhabited. Nevertheless, the condensed built-up is developing as far as possible, without forgetting that the island is a protected territory.
The Giannutri Island is to be visited with the fervour that deserves a tiny earthly paradise.
It is forbidden to anchor yachts or motor boats in the main part of its coast and there aren’t any asphalting roads, but just simple paths to have a walk across its unspoiled nature. The island is also a perfect spot for diving along its amazing depths, with abundant caves where the Tyrrhenian meadows of Posidonia bloom, while exploring the rich and different species of fishes and crustaceous, as well as the coral reefs, sea stars, sea roses, sea fans, sea horses and sponges, which inhabit its waters.
In the surroundings of the island, even if rare, sometimes happen to bump into the remnants of the shipwrecks occurred in ancient times, from Etruscan and Roman galleys to 17th /18th vessels, most of them happened when the Tuscan archipelago was a recurrent objective of the Moslem pirates. Nevertheless, there have been three noted shipwrecks in the 20th century: the Italian cargo “Marsala”, in 1913, lying at 40 metres of depth ca; the also Italian cargo “Anna Maria”, in 1971, lying at 45 meters of depth ca, and the Panamanian big cargo “Nasim II”, in 1976, lying at 60 metres of depth ca. with all the cars it was transporting to be sold in North Africa.
The island was first inhabited by the Greeks, who called it Artemisia, and then by the Romans, who called it Danium. During the Roman ages, the island became a private property of the patrician family Domizi Enobarbi, along with the nearby Giglio Island and the former town of Cosa (now Ansedonia), located in the Maremma shoreline. That family constructed in the Giannutri Island, in the proximities of Cala Maestra, one of the most gorgeous Roman villas never built in the Tuscan archipelago. The villa is named “Agrippina House” for having been inhabited by Julia Augusta Agrippina (15 -59 AD) daughter of the prestigious general Germanicus and niece of the Emperor Claudius. When se was 14 the Emperor Tiberius arranged her engagement with the Roman Consul Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, whose mother was related to the imperial family. They had only one son or maybe survived just one: Nero (born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus) who was born in the 37th year. Three years later Agrippina’s husband died. In the 49th year, she married her uncle Claudius, becoming Empress of Rome. The Emperor Claudius adopted her son who, in the 54th year, succeeded him in the throne as Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus.
The features of the villa denote that it was constructed between the Flavian period and the Hadrianic one. The villa was possibly divided into five sections: an enormous water reservoir subdivided in five compartments; the private rooms of the owners and, opposite, the guest rooms; several thermal baths and a service wing where were placed the slave rooms, the kitchens and the store-rooms. In the outdoors is still standing an amazing panoramic columned loggia reachable by an imposing marble staircase, with views over the Giglio Island.
The importance of visiting the “Agrippina House”, in which remains are still visible some fragments of the marvellous large mosaics with marine and mythological motifs covering the pavement, as well as some pieces of the precious marbles and frescoes which ornamented its walls, makes up another fundamental reason to stop at the wonderful Giannutri Island.
The island hosts two restaurants located in the area where the ferries reach port.
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