Capraia Island


The beautiful island of Capraia is located in the middle of the Corsica Channel. It is the third largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago and at the same time one of the most maritime realities in this area. The island is considered to be the wildest island in the archipelago and is closer to the island of Corsica than to the mainland.

Info about the island of Capraia

The Capraia Island has an area of ​​approximately 19 square kilometers. At its highest point, it measures 447 m.
It has about 300 inhabitants and is managed autonomously. The only inhabited parts of the island are in a former prison and in the area around the port. Even during the tourist season, it is a very quiet and relaxed area as accommodation on the island is very limited. In addition, driving is completely prohibited here.
The island is of volcanic origin. There is only one small sandy beach on the island, the bay of Cala della Mortula. Otherwise there are only rocky bays here.
The name of the island comes from wild goats (Italian: capra). The island received its first name, Aiglyion, from the Greeks. The Romans later changed the name to Capraia. The name refers to the numerous wild animals that inhabit the island.

Where is the island of Capraia

History of the island

In the Middle Ages there was a base of Saracen pirates on the island. After that it was under the rule of the city Pisa, after the battle of Meloria it belonged to Genoa.

Even after 1768 the island remained with Genoa, although administratively it actually belonged to Corsica, which changed to France. The island belonged to the province of Genoa until November 15, 1925, after which it belonged to Tuscany. Religiously she remained until January 01st, 1977 to the Archdiocese of Genoa.

In the period from 1873 to 1986 the island was used as an agricultural penal colony. Only with the end of this penal colony could it be used for tourism.

The landscape of the island of Capraia

The island is unique in the Tuscan archipelago as it was created by a double volcanic eruption. About 10 million years ago, during the first eruption, the shape of the island was created. A second eruption occurred about 1 million years ago.

The eruptions created a unique landscape. The island has steep and exciting coastlines that plunge straight into the sea and rocks that are carved by the sea and the wind. These natural spectacles document the eruptions and the subsequent lava deposits.
A special highlight is the Cala Rossa bay. There the rock faces shimmer in colors from red to black and are a very special sight.

The center of the island is also the most mountainous area. The highest mountain at 445 meters is Monte Castello. In the center there is a dense Mediterranean bush vegetation. This is particularly rich in myrtle, strawberry trees, heather and mastic bushes. There is also a water collecting pond, the Stagnone. Some rare endemic plant species are also native to the island of Capria (dwarf borage or the centaury).

The bird island of Capraia

The island is also called Seagull Island. This is reflected in the large number of birds on the island.
There are some species of permanent resident birds on the island, while others are subject to migratory movements. Here, for example, the common shag or the rare coral gull can be found in large numbers. The kestrel, the peregrine falcon and the small Corsican siskin are also at home here.

Capraia Island
Capraia Island

Snorkeling and diving

The seabed of the island is the destination of many snorkelers and divers for unforgettable dives. There are dense meadows of Poseidon grass between which sea bream, snaper and grouper can be seen.
There is also that largest marine reserve in Europe (“Santuario internazionale dei Mammiferi marini Pelagos) due to the massive presence of dolphins and whales.
These animals can be found here quickly and observed in their natural environment.

Snorkeling in Capraia
Snorkeling in Capraia

Historical sights on the island

There are also many historical sights on the island. These can be reached and viewed on many different hiking trails and mule tracks.
This of course includes the former prison, but also the tower at the port, the churches of Santo Stefano, dell'Assunta and San Nicola, and the monastery of San Antonio. The fortress of San Giorgio is also worth a visit.
Furthermore, the landscape of the island of Capraia with its numerous caves, bays and beaches is very worth discovering.

The two areas of Capraia

The island of Capraia is divided into two zones. Zone 1 covers the entire protected area of ​​the island. It is the area between Punta del Trattoio and Punta della Manza, and the small islands are also part of the protected area. The protected area of ​​the island is not allowed to be visited. Entry by boat is also prohibited, and trading or fishing is also not permitted.

The entire rest of the island belongs to Zone 2, apart from the area around the port and the town.
Fishing is regulated in this zone. Flora and fauna must not be damaged, for example by picking plants.

Getting to the island

No special permit is required to get to the island. All year round the island is from Livorno port approached. In summer there are also crossings from San Vincenzo or from the Elba-Island .
The island can therefore be visited and explored by tourists at any time. However, as already mentioned, the accommodations on the island are very limited. So it remains an idyllic and quiet place despite tourism.

Who is a visit to the island for?

If you are looking for hustle and bustle, this island is not suitable. There are only two small towns with the most essential shops on it. There is a port and a hill town 700m away (accessible on foot or by bus).
In the port there is a small grocery and souvenir shop, an ice cream parlor, restaurants and a bar. There is also a real estate agent and a church. It looks similar in the hill town. However, tourists do not have to be afraid, everything that is necessary for life can be found in the small shops on the island. And for many this is completely sufficient and a reason to visit the island again and again.

The island is especially suitable for tourists who love nature, tranquility and the sea. The wonderful nature on the island can be enjoyed while hiking. There are always wonderful views of the neighboring island of Corsica.
The island can be explored from the sea with a guide, and distant bays can be reached with water taxis. The island is also ideal for divers and is also very suitable for day trips.

A day trip to the island usually starts on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in Portoferraio or at 10:30 a.m. from Marciana Marina. The return journey usually takes place at 16:30 p.m.

Interesting festivals on the island

In the fall, the island hosts the Squid Festival.It consists of a popular fishing competition that has two categories (from the sea and from land).

The festival in honor of Saint Assunta takes place every year on the night of August 15th. She is the patron saint of the island. A golden statue of the Virgin Mary is carried in procession to the sea during the festival.

Both festivals and many other events on the island are definitely worth a visit.

Capraia - a special island in the Tuscan archipelago

With their special landscape and History the island of Capraia is a special and unique experience for every visitor. Here you can marvel at nature as well as visit historical sights. Those who love nature and tranquility have come to the right place on this island.

Last updated: 06.02.2024

Images courtesy of Wikipedia | Raboe001 and stasal

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