The island of Capraia is the third largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago and is an island south of Elba. Its distinctive elliptical shape lies along the fracture line in the micro plate that runs down from Sardinia. The form of the island is due to the magma, which bubbled up from the crack in the earth’s surface many years ago. While the magma is no longer contributing to the growth of the island, the ancient volcano of Zenobito remains as evidence of Capraia’s interesting geological birth. This huge, bright red rock wall has been corroded by the elements for thousands of years in Cala Rossa. Now, it overlooks the sea in all of its magnificence.
So, how do you get there? Take the ferry down from Livorno, the trip only takes a few hours. During the summer season there are weekly boat trips to this beautiful isle south of Elba, which is actually the nearest island to Elba. Upon your arrival in Capraia, Italy, you will be astounded by her incredible mountains and high peaks. Among a few are Monte Castello, Monte and Monte Pontica Arpagna, all more than 445 meters in height. Capraia Island is famous for her numerous lush valleys that are rich in water, scrub lush, arbutus, mastic, rosemary, lavender and helichrysum. However, the rockrose reigns supreme. You can smell the aroma of this lovely plant everywhere you go, like a natural and intoxicating perfume of the island.
Many ancient paths link the valleys, ridges and points of coastline. The trails of Capraia are unique among Elba and the Tuscan Archipelago. You can quench your thirst for exploration in this island rich in flora, fauna, landscape and history! Leave your hotel, apartment or camping ground that you have chosen for your stay in Capraia behind and head to the coast. It is enchanting and scattered with watchtowers that were built hundreds of years ago for protection against the Barbary pirates. These towers were built in conjunction with the Fortress of St. George in the sixteenth century, after a raid of Dragut by Suleiman the Magnificent. Then there are the small yet stunning plains of Saint Stefano and Zenobito. These flat areas interrupt the mountainous geography and they will make you gasp for breath at their enchanting beauty. They guard the fort, which overlooks the village of Capraia. This fort is the only one on the island that is currently inhabited.
Capraia is an island shaped like ribs, which is a testimony to its turbulent origins. In the western part you will be amazed by the high, jagged, towering cliffs overlooking the sea. These cliffs are inhabited by all kinds of different species of birds that nest in these crags despite the hard and seemingly unwelcoming surface. It is exactly these hard surfaces that make most of the cliffs inaccessible to humans. In fact, only Cala Moretto, Reciso and Fondo are accessible to visitors. The coasts of the eastern part of Capraia are much lower, but no less spectacular. They are also characterized by a sharp drop overlooking the sea. However, they are softened by the pebble and sand beaches directly below. These are great places to spend a leisurely afternoon in the sun.
Capraia, home of the sailors and the Etruscan people. In ancient times, the island of Capraia was completely covered in great timber forests. In between the first and second century AD, the Romans built an important villa in Porto and luxury homes in the towns of Piana di Santo Stefano. With the arrival of Christianity, the monks began to take over the island. This is evidenced by the church of Santo Stefano, which was destroyed by the Saracens in the ninth century and rebuilt around the twelfth century. The island of Capraia was in fact the home base of the most powerful pirates in the high Mediterranean. The pirates were finally driven out by the people of Pisa, who were then conquered by the Genoese in 1284. The changes of ownership of Capraia continued until its assumption by the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1996 the island officially became a part of the Tuscan archipelago.