Capraia, one of the more distant islands in the Tuscan Archipelago

TheIsland of Capraia is in the Strait of Corsica, and, since it measures 19 square kilometres, it is the third largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago.The island, a single Commune in the Province of Livorno, has about 300 inhabitants, and at a distance of 54 km, the furthest from the mainland, is actually nearer Corsica than Italy; this explains why it is also considered the most "rugged" of the islands in the archipelago.

When the penal settlement closed down towards the end of the 1980s, Capraia started to open its doors to tourists, encouraging them to come and see its natural and historic beauty.

There are two populated areas on the island: the port and the small town, that is also the oldest part, behind the Fort of San Giorgio.

Capraia is considered a small, geological paradise because it is the only volcanic island in the Archipelago that came to be from a double eruption: the first one was about 10 million years ago and gave the island its shape, and the second one was about 1 million years ago, on which much research has been carried out.

Steep cliffs with a sheer drop right down to the sea, and suggestive rocksthat over the years the wind and sea have made smooth and clean, are proof of the various eruptions that brought about the different layers of lava. All this can easily be seen in the famous Cala Rossa, without a doubt one of the most unique coves in the Archipelago, where the cone shaped rock walls go from red to black.

The most mountainous part of Capraia is the central part, and Monte Castello, 445 metres above sea level, is the highest peak. This part of the island is rich in lush, Mediterranean shrubs like heather, strawberry trees, lentisks and myrtle, and here you will also find the small water basin known as the Stagnone. There are also numerous, very rare, endemic species of wild plants here, some of which grow on the tiny island of Peraiola (or Seagull Island): Capraia Linaria, the dwarf borage and the Capraia centaurea.

As far as the fauna is concerned, there is significant birdlife here, some there all year round and others that are migratory. Sea birds like cormorants, shearwaters and the rare Audouin's gull whose image flying high above the waves is used as symbol of the Tuscan National Park, can be seen here. Land birds like the small, citril finch, the kestrel, the peregrine hawk and the raven can also be seen.

The sea bed in Capraia is much loved by snorkellers and deep sea divers, because there is a great amount of Posidonia rich in groupers, dentex and gilthead bream. Don't forget that there are also many cetaceans in this area of the Mediterranean, and for this reason the Pelagos International Sanctuary of Marine Mammalshas been created, and is the largest protected sea area in Europe, covering the French, the Monegasque and the Italian territory; here you have the chance of seeing blue whales and striped dolphins.

There are also many places of historical interest in Capraia, that you can get to by simply following the paths and mule tracks: the ex Penal Settlement, the Port Tower, the Church of Santo Stefano, the Church of the Assumption, the Church of San Nicola, the Church and Convent of San Antonio, the Fort of San Giorgio, as well as numerous beaches, coves and grottos.

Protected Area and limits

Area 1: the western area of the sea that is entirely protected, between Punta della Manza and Punta del Trattoio, the tiny islands of La Peraiola, Le Formiche, Lo Scoglione, Lo Scoglio del Gatto and Lo Scoglio della Manza, where visitors are not allowed, and sailing, fishing and deep sea diving is strictly forbidden.

Area 2: there are no restrictions in the rest of the island, apart from the port area and the town. Any fishing laws come under the Park Authority, and it is srictly forbidden to damage the fauna or flora in any way, or take anything away from the environment.

No special permission is needed if you want to go to Capraia, and you can get there from the port of Livorno at any time of the year, while during the sumer months you can sail from San Vincenzo and the Island of Elba (Portoferraio and Marciana Marina).

Useful information

Capraia Town Council 0586 905025 - comunecapraiaisola@postacert.toscana.it

Pro Loco Capraia Isola 0586 905138 - prolocoisoladicapraia.pr@tin.it

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