Tuscany Planet

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Giannutri, beaches, what to see, how to visit

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What to see and what to do on the island of Giannutri

The island of Giannutri is the southernmost of the islands that make up the Tuscan Archipelago. But not only this small island also represents the southernmost point in all of Tuscany. Giannutri is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea a short distance from the Island of Giglio (about 14 km) and from the Argentario (about 12 km). From an administrative point of view, the island is part of the municipality of Isola del Giglio in the province of Grosseto.

It is a rather small island with an area of ​​just 2.6 square kilometers and modest reliefs (the maximum altitude is just 88 meters above sea level). From one end of the island to the other, from Cala dello Scoglio to the lighthouse, they are just over 3 kilometers away.

Giannutri is an island characterized by a jagged and rocky coast, with numerous coves and a large gulf, the Golfo dello Spalmatoio. This is where the only village on the island, Spalmatoio, is located, and where ferries from the mainland dock. This is also the area where the greatest number of holiday activities can be carried out because a large part of the island is subject to severe restrictions aimed at protecting its ecosystem. In some areas it is in fact forbidden to carry out any type of activity (fishing, diving, navigation etc.) while in others you can only carry out certain activities but not before obtaining an authorization.

Giannutri Island is a small paradise in the middle of the sea, devoid of cars and light years away from the stress and bustle of the cities. It has a beautiful sea with crystal clear water and wonderful backdrops. It is no coincidence that this island is a very popular destination for diving enthusiasts. But not only that, numerous species of birds have also chosen this island as their favorite destination, especially for nesting.


The island has been frequented since the Bronze Age, albeit without real permanent settlements. In Roman times, however, a villa and a port were built but subsequently, and for many centuries, the island of Giannutri remained uninhabited. It seems that a fort was built during the Napoleonic period but no traces remain. Instead, in 1861 the lighthouse was built which was used to signal the presence of the island during the night.

Giannutri (Photo by Dindo94 / CC BY)

Sea and beaches of Giannutri

Visitors can move freely on the island only in a corridor that connects Cala Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra. In other areas of the island, including the other beaches, you can only go there if accompanied by an authorized guide. The island of Giannutri is a perfect destination for those who want to dive taking advantage of a very beautiful sea full of life with some notable surprises. In fact, off the island there are some very suggestive wrecks such as that of the Anna Bianca and that of the Nasim.

Cala dello Spalmatoio

Cala dello Spalmatoio is the first you will encounter on the island of Giannutri because it is here that ferries from the mainland dock. Here is also the town and most of the homes and services on the island. Here the coast is rocky and the seabed is quite deep. The water is transparent and crystalline. Since it is the easiest cove to reach and the one closest to the inhabited center, it is also the one that is usually more crowded.

Cala Maestra

Only one kilometer of road separates Cala dello Spalmatoio from Cala Maestra. This is the second beach you can go to freely even without a tour guide. Here, too, the sea is very beautiful, but perhaps I should first say that the sea on the island of Giannutri is always beautiful. The cove has a small sand and pebble beach and a sort of concrete platform that can be used to lie down and sunbathe.

Cala dello Schiavo

From Cala dello Spalmatoio along the coast to the south you reach Cala dello Schiavo (or Cala dello Schiavone). It is not accessible from land and here the coast is made up of a cliff so the only way to reach this stretch of sea is by boat.

Cala Volo di Notte

Immediately below Cala dello Schiavo we also find Cala Volo di Notte. You can get there easily by following a not too demanding path that starts from Cala dello Spalmatoio. Like the previous cove, this one also has a coast made of overhanging rocks which makes it extremely difficult to reach the sea from land.

Cala Ischiaiola

Cala Ischiaiola is located on the western side of the island, a little further south than Cala Maestra. This cove is perfect for diving also because in its depths there is the wreck of the Anna Bianca ship which lies at a depth between -40 and -52 meters.

What to see in Giannutri

The island of Giannutri preserves some remains from the Roman era. In particular, a little further north of Cala Maestra is the remarkable Villa Domizia which dates back to the 2nd century AD. It can only be visited with a tour guide, the villa was built by the Domizi Enobarbi family. The villa has been the subject of a series of archaeological excavations that have brought to light different environments. Among these are the rooms dedicated to the imperial family, those where the slaves stayed and even the baths. In Cala dello Spalmatoio, on the other hand, there are the remains of an ancient Roman port, while in the southernmost part of the island there is the Giannutri lighthouse.

How to visit the island of Giannutri

You can visit the island of Giannutri at any time of the year, although clearly the best time to organize a trip to Giannutri is certainly summer. The island is connected with Porto Santo Stefano all year round and during the summer also with the Giglio Island. Access is not limited, however, the maximum number of visitors depends on how many seats the ferries can make available, so in any case, you should book early. To access Giannutri, an entrance ticket of 4 euros must be paid (except for exemptions such as in the case of children under 12). You can buy this ticket together with the ferry ticket; if you intend to reach the island of Giannutri by private boat, you can buy the ticket at the Maregiglio ticket office in Porto Santo Stefano or at the Isola del Giglio Proloco.

Island regulation

The island of Giannutri has been declared a Marine Park and is therefore protected and controlled by the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. With the exception of Cala Maestra and Cala Spalmatoio, the whole island is divided into two zones, Zone 1 and Zone 2, in which strict restrictions are applied on access and on the activities that can be carried out. In particular. in the areas that are part of Zone 1 and up to one kilometer from the sea it is forbidden to fish, sail, access, stop and dive. In Zone 2, on the other hand, fishing is regulated and is allowed to residents while non-residents must first obtain an authorization from the competent authority. As already mentioned, outside the path that connects Cala dello Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra it is necessary to be accompanied by a guide.

How to get to Giannutri

Ferries to Giannutri depart from Porto Santo Stefano and are managed by Maregiglio, a company that takes care of connections from Porto Santo Stefano to the island of Giglio and the island of Giannutri. Connections are more frequent in summer than in winter. Disembarkation usually takes place in Cala dello Spalmatoio but in some cases, especially based on sea and wind conditions, it can be done in Cala Maestra. The journey from Porto Santo Stefano to the island of Giannutri takes about an hour.

For all information on ferries, timetables and tickets I leave you the Maregiglio website, where you can book your seat on the ferry.

Cruises to Giglio and Giannutri

During the summer, you can book a day excursion and a mini-cruise to Giglio and Giannutri. These cruises depart from Porto Santo Stefano, Elba Island or Castiglione della Pescaia. The cruise can be a good way to visit both the island of Giglio and the island of Giannutri and spend a few hours on both.

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