Giannutri: The little half-moon island

Giannutri Island, sacred to the Roman Goddess of the night skies and wild animals Dania, is full of greenery, junipers and seagulls.

The Greeks called it "Artemisia" and the Romans called it "Dianium", in honor of the lunar goddess Diana. The shape of the island, like a crescent moon, inspired the name. Giannutri is small and is composed mostly of limestone, jagged cliffs and caves that fill up with water at high tide. Its coasts fall abruptly off into the deep sea. For divers and lovers of the sea, the Isola Giannutri is the perfect place for you. It boasts an ecosystem rich with sea sponges, corals, sea fans and colorful floating aquatic plants.

The island, when seen from a distance, looks like a blurred reflection between the sky and sea. The silhouette of the island is very tall and rippled like the head of a rooster. This is due to its four hills, each of which is about 80 meters in height. The Tuscan Archipelago National Park and the Tuscan Region of Italy protect its surface of 2.6 square kilometers. It is legally a part of the municipality of Giglio Island.

How do you get there? You can get to the Island of Giannutri easily via one of the many ferries that leave from Porto Santo Stefano, on the Argentario. It is a quick and quiet trip, not far from the mainland but a real treat. The landscape of this southern part of the Tuscan Archipelago will pleasantly surprise you. With the island of Giglio to your right and Elba (the queen of the Tuscan Archipelago) in the background to the north, in front of you appears the small and graceful Island of Giannutri. Sometimes, you can even see the little island of Montecristo to the west.

Giannutri is an island of the beautiful coves and rich wildlife. There are many species of birds that nest here, both on its rocky coastline that is dotted with juniper and brush and on the spurs of the hills. We animals without wings can arrive in one of the two ports: Cala Spalmatoio to the east and Cala Maestra to the west. Cala Spalmatoio is a small village with a charming little square and a single bar/restaurant. The other, Cala Maestra, is famous for the beautiful Villa Domizia. This lovely residential home was built in the second century AD by Gens Domitia Enobarbo and belonged to Nero.

The Roman villa, evidence of an ancient past. At Villa Domizia, the original Corinthian columns will send you back to an age of sophistication and opulence during the Roman Empire. Check out the gorgeous floor mosaics, such as the one depicting "Jason and the Minotaur" engaged in a fierce fight inside the labyrinth. This mosaic is now kept in Grosseto on the mainland.

Your visit. A dirt road connects the two ports. We suggest you always stay on the road in order to keep the pristine island environment unspoiled and unpolluted. You can hike down several trails with the accompaniment of an expert Environmental Guide. Be sure to visit the southernmost tip, where the lighthouse of Capel Rosso was built in the second half of the 800s.