Maremma: Isola del Giglio – Giglio Island

This is an excerpt from the book “Florence and Tuscany

Isola del Giglio - All rights reserved by enrylenz
Isola del Giglio – All rights reserved by enrylenz

The Island of Giglio is the second largest island in the Tuscan archipelago. Its natural beauty makes it a great-tiny paradise. Its Greek name, aegilion, means island of goats and probably comes from its steep, granite cliffs, well suited to mountain goats.

The entire coast line is made of jagged palisades, broken only by the Arenella, Porto and Cannelle coves along the east coast and by the larger beach of Campese to the north east.

Its mild climate offers visitors a wonderful stay in any season. The emerald green water and varied sea bed teeming with fish offer the ever more numerous visitors and scuba divers the chance to enjoy the uncontaminated sea.

The island is rich in flora and fauna and the thick Mediterranean scrub is broken by terraces with olive groves and vineyards which produce the excellent white wine, Ansonica.

Sunset at Giglio – Photo © enzazanzi
Sunset at Giglio – Photo © enzazanzi

The original settlement was probably Etruscan. From the 3rd century B.C., it fell under Roman domination and became the property of the noble family Domizi Enobardi.

In 805 the islands of Giglio and Giannutre were given to the Abbey of the Tre Fontane in Rome by Charlemagne. In 1269 the island passed to the Aldobrandeschi family and then to the powerful Repubblic of Pisa to which it owes the Giglio Castle.

It became the property of the Medici and at the beginning of the 15th century suffered terrible raids. The worst of these was lead by the Algerian pirate Redbeard causing the exodus of the entire population.

The Medici undertook the task of repopulating the island and protecting it by fortifying Giglio Castle. The period of greater safety that followed, stimulated an increase of the population and an economic improvement.

Today the population is concentrated at Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello and Campese. Giglio Porto is a delightful village lying along a cove closed between two piers and backed by a terraced hill planted in vineyards.

From here a narrow, winding road leads up to Giglio Castle, the town seat which has jusidiction over Giannutri as well. The town has kept its look of a fortified village, surrounded by high Medieval walls complete with towers.

Giglio Porto – Photo © ( Changè ) aka Pixx0ne
Giglio Porto – Photo © ( Changè ) aka Pixx0ne

It is a maze of tiny streets, covered by arches, dark underground passages, steep steps carved in the rock, and old houses crowded on top of one another with the Castle looming above. Campese is situated on the island’s western coast.

It is in the center of a bay bordered by a wide, sandy beach, embellished by the presence of an imposing tower built at the time of Ferdinand I.

Both Giglio and the tiny, wild island of Giannutri are part of the Parco Nationale dell’Archipelago Toscano. This small island is striking for its sheer cliffs dropping off to the crystal-clear sea, the sharp scent of its aromatic herbs and the remains of an ancient patrician Roman villa.

End of the excerpt from the book “Florence and Tuscany“. Get the entire content of the book free from advertising.

Where to stay in Giglio Porto

There are a few hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.