Gorgona Island


Gorgona forms the northernmost and smallest part of the Tuscan Archipelago and is located in the Ligurian Sea. The island is about 37 km from Livorno away. It is the only prison island in Italy. The convicts work in agriculture and animal husbandry. Agriculture and the viniculture are important economic sectors for the island. Gorgona is 2,23 km² in size. It belongs to district 2 of Livorno. This consists of Venezia Nuova, Centro, San Marco, Pontino, Magenta, Origine and Gorgona Island. The island is not large, but it is becoming increasingly important because of the good agricultural products as well as the clean environment and the breathtaking landscape.

Where is the island of Gorgona

The untouched nature of the island of Gorgona!

The island of Gorgona immediately stands out for its clean sea and breathtaking ophiolites. Limestone characterizes the mountainous island. The Punta Gorgona is the highest mountain at 255 meters. The island is not only surrounded by crystal clear sea, it is itself rich in natural fresh water. The slopes are therefore densely overgrown with Mediterranean vegetation. Gorgona is one of the few islands in Italy that is so rich in natural water resources. The lush vegetation is therefore also used by many animals. The residents of the place also take advantage of this diversity. They still go fishing and hunting.

Forests with holm oaks, pines and Aleppo pines characterize the landscape. Gorgona is a true paradise for every flower lover. Over 400 different types of flowers make the landscape shine in bright colors. Chestnut trees and black alders complete the diversity of the vegetation on this Tuscan island. The "Bianca di Gorgona" is the only type of olive in Italy that only grows here.

Gorgona is considered a place of passage and resting place for many birds. They therefore particularly like to breed here. The coral gull in particular likes to breed here. Nature has remained untouched on the island.

Gorgon Scalo
Gorgon Scalo

The colonization of the Tuscan island!

Gorgona prison island

The agricultural penal colony has existed since 1869. It was initially part of the Pianosa prison. Today there are around 70 inmates living on the prison island of Gorgona. They work in the vineyard, in the vegetable garden and look after the livestock. They also produce wine, cheese and honey.

Since Gorgona is considered a prison island, it can only be visited with prior reservation. However, since 2016 it has been allowed to visit the island “for tourist and natural purposes”. This means that swimming in the sea around the island is allowed again. The most beautiful bays are the Cala Scirocco with the grotto "Grotta del Bove marino", the Cala Maestra and the Cala Martina.

The settlement

In the past, the island was inhabited by many fishermen due to the abundance of fish. Nowadays only about 70 people live in the village. Few of them live on the island of Gorgona all year round. Due to the drastically changed living situation of many Italians in recent years, more people are starting to settle on Gorgona again. Viticulture has been expanded in recent years and is an important economic factor.

Viticulture on Gorgona
Viticulture on Gorgona

Attractions on the island of Gorgona!

Gorgona has two fortifications that are among the oldest in Italy. The Torre Vecchia was under the rule of Pisa built. It served as an observation tower and for defense. The Torre Nuova is located in the east of the island.

The nature reserve "Island of Gorgona"!

Gorgona is the most protected island of all the Tuscan islands. On land, 100% of the surface belongs to protection zone 1. On water there is also almost 100% protection. Only a narrow strip for mooring for the ships (Cala dello Scalo) is an exception. The part is counted in protection zone 2. Driving or diving is regulated by the prison administration. The rest of the water area is again part of protection zone 1.

Are island visits possible for tourists?

The island of Gorgona can only be visited by tourists on Tuesdays during the summer months. However, this is only possible by prior arrangement and with a guide. The number of visitors is limited. However, the guides are allowed to carry out excursions with tourists along routes selected by the prison administration.

Gorgon Scalo
The only access to the island is through Gorgona Scalo


The island of Gorgona is one of the smallest but also most beautiful islands in the Tuscan Archipelago. With the exception of a narrow strip of sea, both the sea and the land area of ​​the island are part of the nature reserve.

Due to the crystal clear water, the clean air and the untouched nature, Gorgona is worth a visit despite the advance notice through the prison administration. The prison administration can determine the route of the tourists. If the tourists do not follow this route, there are high fines.

The island of Gorgona offers a lot of variety and attractions that it is definitely worth booking in advance and restricting yourself. In addition, local products can also be purchased there upon request.


The fortifications are among the oldest in Italy. Gorgona Island viticulture has become quite popular since 2013. The island's products are absolutely "natural". The seafood and fish come from crystal clear water. Visiting the grotto is a little adventure for many a visitor. The breathtaking landscape enchants many a Italy lover. Due to the diverse flora and fauna, there is something for everyone. Bird lovers also get their money's worth. The coral gull also nests here.

Last updated: 06.02.2024

Image courtesy of gimsan - stock.adobe.com

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