15 Jan On holiday in Montecristo, the island of romance
Celebrated by Alexander Dumas in his novel the Count of Montecristo, today it is uninhabited and wild and a true paradise for lovers of nature.
Isola di Montecristo
The island and its natural beauties
The island farthest from the Tuscan coast, uninhabited except for only two park rangers that preside over the area. Access is regulated so it’s possible to visit the island only if accompanied by an authorized guide. Known since the Etruscans and Romans, with the name of Oglasa during the Medieval period it began to be named Monte Cristi, presumably for the presence of monks that built the Monastery of San Mamiliano there.
The first hermit, bishop of Palermo, disembarked on the island together with some of his followers, to escape the Vandals. Not having been home to important human presences, the island of Montecristo is maybe the wildest and most authentic and without doubt one of the most important islands of the mediterranean, from a naturalistic perspective.
The Watson-Taylor villa
The villa is the only building present on the island and is presently used as a lodging house and houses inside it a small naturalistic museum. The history of this building begins in 1852 when the english botanist George Watson Taylor bought the island from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the resourceful Sir Watson Taylor, moved to the island with his wife and started several important works, among which the renovation of the small port and the Villa where the couple lived until 1860, the year in which the island was annexed by the kingdom of Italy.
Afterwards it became a hunting preserve of the Savoia, then rented by the marquis Ginori, still as a hunting grounds and only in 1971 did it become property of the State of Italy who decreed that, among the first protected areas in Italy, the island of Montecristo would be as such to preserve its naturalistic value.
A unique landing at the island.
Maestra Bay was and is the only point of harbor at the island. A mostly mountainous island, a mass of granite from the jagged coast, inaccessible, wild, inhospitable and overlooked by the top of the Fortezza mountain of more than 600 meters above sealevel. The undisputed masters of the island are the 400 or so documented plant species and the many migratory birds that choose it to nest, not to forget the goat of Montecristo, the only wild goat of the country.
It’s not an easy island, even the guided tour that will take you to the top to the Monastery of San Mamiliano is not for everyone. You need to have the right gear and shoes and a packed lunch, because there are no bars or restaurants, but you’ll be guided by the scents, the vibrant colors against the white granite of the rocks, and the green of a rich and low vegetation. The view you’ll have in front of you at the top will leave you breathless, give you unforgettable emotions and you’ll be immersed in a timeless atmosphere, where the marks left by man are minimal and nature reigns without contest.