Giglio Island: Jewel of the Tyrrhenian Sea

Giglio Island: Jewel of the Tyrrhenian Sea

Just a couple of hours from our Stigliano property, you’ll find one of Tuscany’s great treasures; one which has somehow escaped the attention of most holidaymakers. Giglio island is situated just 11 miles out to sea from Porto Santo Stefano (1 hour and 20-minute drive from Stigliano) and is a true natural paradise.

How to reach the island

There are two ferry companies that take visitors between Porto Santo Stefano and Giglio Island every day - Toremar and Maregiglio. Both companies charge around 14€ for a daily ticket.

If you wish, you can purchase your tickets in advance online. Otherwise, you can buy them on the day from the booths on the boardwalk at Porto Santo Stefano. The ferrries take around 50 minutes and leave fairly regularly from the port, making it a relatively simple trip.

A true natural wonder

Giglio Island is a virtually self-sufficient paradise, surrounded by crystal-clear waters teeming with life and bursting with charm and beauty. Locals rarely visit the rest of Italy if they can help it and it’s easy to see why – the pace of life here is much slower and more in touch with nature than that of their mainland neighbours.

Perhaps due to this, 90% of the island is unspoilt, covered by wild Mediterranean vegetation containing around 700 botanical species. In fact, you may be surprised by the range of flora and fauna which grow here, from strawberry trees to heather to chestnuts! Most of Giglio can be explored using the many footpaths and cycle tracks which crisscross the island, but make sure to bring your walking boots - the territory is mostly mountainous, with the highest peak being 486 metres above sea level.

The beaches are also not to be missed, with 17 miles of coast ranging from flat sandy stretches to dramatic cliff faces. The coastline is home to a collection of rare animal species, including the peregrine falcon, herring gull and sardinian frog. When it comes to the human visitors, four of the main beaches on the island are as follows:

  • Campese beach: This beach is the largest on the island, divided in the middle by a cliff. It’s made of red, coarse sand and offers some spectacular views of the bay, catching the sunshine until late in the evening.

  • Cannelle beach: Just a short walk from the village of Giglio Porto, this beach is made up of beautifully fine white sand. The warm, shallow waters are perfect for younger swimmers. However, due to its close proximity to the port, it can get quite busy.

  • Caldane beach: The most secluded of the four, this is a great beach to enjoy if you’re after some peace and quiet. The waters are rougher than those found in the other bays, so it may be less suitable for children.

  • Arenella beach: It’s easy to see why this is the most popular beach on the island – the sand is fine and soft and the waters mild and safe. Try to visit early in the day or during lunch when the beach is quietest.

Further from the shore, snorkellers will be delighted by the mild water temperatures and colourful clouds of fish, while scuba divers can explore the many caves and ancient wrecks. In the spring and summer, you may even be treated with a visit from the local whales and dolphins!

Places to go

The inhabitants of Giglio Island are dedicated to preserving the natural splendour of their home and as a result the island has just three charming villages; Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello and Giglio Campese. Although it is possible to take a rental car onto the island, the best way to move between villages is using the buses, which travel regularly from one to the other. Tickets are approximately 2€ for a single trip.

Giglio Porto is the heart of the island and where you will depart and board the ferry from the mainland. It’s an ancient settlement, having been used by Romans to bring their fish to market. Today it’s still a central hub, bursting with colour and life and containing most of the island’s restaurants, shops and nightlife.

There’s plenty to see in Giglio Porto. Firstly, Piazza della Dogona, which is a lovely part of town to stop and browse the shops or enjoy a cold drink. Sit and watch the locals go about their business while you decide what to do next. You can catch a bus to any of the other villages from here, but before you do make sure to take a moment to appreciate Torre del Saraceno. First built in the 16th Century, this stone tower is especially striking next to the bright buildings of the town. Although damage means you can no longer go inside, you can still walk around it and appreciate its rich history and some fantastic views of the bay

Giglio Castello is just a 10-minute bus ride from Giglio Porto and is where you can find the true historical centre of the island. Much of the village is nestled within the walls of the Rocca; a 13th Century castle built by the Aldobrandeschi. This means the streets are very tight and narrow, with much of the settlement virtually free of any modern architecture.

Much of Giglio Island’s wine is also produced at Giglio Castello - the cellars are known for the distinctive amber wine, the Ansonica d’Costa Argento. The grapes for this fruity white wine are mainly grown on the island, where the proximity of the sea gives a high salt content. The wine itself is dry, soft and fresh and goes wonderfully with fish and shellfish.

It’s also worth paying a visit to Parrocchiale S. Pietro. This 15th century church isn’t especially impressive from the outside, but the stunning interior is a flattering reflection of the island’s natural, relaxed atmosphere.

Finally, Giglio Campese is the place to go if you want to enjoy the best of the island’s beaches. Located on the far side of Giglio, it’s protected from the harsh winds and rough seas by the mountainous terrain. Buses for Giglio Campese depart from Giglio Porto every half an hour and take just 15 minutes.

Once you arrive, you can choose from many of the nearby beaches to lay out a towel, enjoy the warm waters and soak up the Mediterranean sun. Once you’ve had enough, you can relax in the many bars and restaurants on the water’s edge. Meanwhile, the Torre do Campese keeps watch over the village, where it once guarded the island against frequent pirate attacks.

If you’re after a trip which combines beautiful scenery with fascinating hstory and a welcoming atmosphere, then Giglio Island is a great choice. Whether you’re travelling with children, looking for a romantic day out or want to try something new, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy.

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