The wild island, home of saints and legends
Wild, forbidden, legendary. The Isola di Montecristo is the most protected and unspoilt of the entire Tuscan Archipelago – with restricted visitor numbers and all forms of bathing, fishing and sailing prohibited near the coast. This is because several animal species choose the waters surrounding the island as their natural habitat, including the extremely rare Cuvier’s beaked whale. If you are lucky, you may even spot whales and dolphins.
On a visit to the island’s hinterland, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and shoes: the trails are quite challenging and there are no services of any kind. The entire island is dominated by silence and unspoilt nature. The only traces of humanity are the remains of the Monastery of San Mamiliano and the votive offerings found in the Grotta del Santo.
Visiting the Isola di Montecristo is like stepping outside of the passage of time, in a place that inspired myths and legends. These include Saint Mamilian’s who was taken prisoner and sold as a slave in the 5th century, and is said to have escaped on a pirate ship. After converting them to Christianity, he arrived on Oglasa, the former name of Montecristo, where he defeated the dragon that was terrorising the local inhabitants. The saint spent the rest of his existence in a cave where, later, some monks hid a treasure in an attempt to protect it from Dragut the Corsair. The treasure features in Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo, which made the island famous throughout the world.