The Sanctuary in honour of Ornella Casnati

There is a place inside the Tuscan Archipelago National Park where you can admire one of the most incredible scenes that Mother Nature's has created: a whole world of butterflies at a height of 700 metres above sea level whose beauty will take your breath away.

A truly unique walk along path number 5 on the Island of Elba that starts off in the picnic area of Monte Perone, continues for about 2 kilometres (about 2 hours' walk) and stops on the slopes of Monte Capanne, on the road between San Piero and Sant'Ilario

There are several thematic signposts along the way describing almost every species of butterflies you will come across, as well as the environmental and biogeographic characteristics of the area that are so important to these delicate insects.

The Butterfly Sanctuary, financed by a joint ENEL and Legambiente project, was inaugurated in May 2009. The sanctuary is dedicated to the memory of Ornella Casnati who, along with Leonardo Dapporto, Angelino Carta, Umberto Mazzantini and the close collaboration of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, made it all possible.

In the sanctuary, that from a naturalistic point of view can be considered a natural "Sistine Chapel" 50 different species of butterflies have been recorded, some of which are very different to those already found in this area.

Those of extreme importance are: the Zerynthia cassandra that is very different from the Zerynthia polyxena found for the first time on Elba in 1932 and that thanks to several differences from those that live on the mainland it is classed as an endemic subspecies (Zerynthia polyxena linnea), or the magnificent Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) with its bright colours, the Purple hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus) with it's dark blue wings, the endemic Lycaeides Villai and Coenonympha Corinna from Elba so easy to distinguish thanks to the six marks on its back wings, the colourful and elegant Giasone (Charaxes jasius), Podalirio (Iphiclides podalirius) and Macaone (Papilio machaon).

There are three main areas along the way where you can see most of the butterflies:

  • the pinewood: where many butterflies like the Zerinzia, the Pieride di Mann and the Pironia have chosen their habitat because of the cool, dampness of the shade of the plants.
  • Mediterranean bush: the typical vegetation on Elba where bushes, saplings and strawberry trees grow, the food that the larva of the beautiful Giasone need.
  • Open spaces of herbaceous plants, broom and helichrysum: thanks to these areas being very bright and rich in plants and flowers, you can see many different species of butterflies, some endemic to the Island of Elba.
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