Giannutri Island is quite simply the biggest jewel in the jewellery box that is Monte Argentario... and one of the oldest.
It was first inhabited in the Stone Age and went on to become a bustling port during the Roman Empire, when it was known as Artemisia to the Greeks and Dianium to the Romans.
When the Romans left, the island was abandoned, used mostly by pirates as shelter on their way to attack Tuscany. The Spanish in the 16th century considered the island as nothing more than a weak point in their military port.
They wanted to turn it into a series of housing estates, but the plan never left the drawing board, luckily.
Instead they and everyone else left the island untouched, allowing it to blossom into the incredible nature reserve it is today.
Giannutri is the Tuscan Archipelago's most beautiful island. It's part of the Parco Nazionale dell'Arcipelago Toscano, which means visitors have to be careful not to disturb any of the flora or fauna.
Photos from left to right: Riandreu, Rik & Ste, Riandreu, Leticia Daquer and Jojo 77 via Flickr.
How to get here
Ferries to Giannutri Island depart from Porto Santo Stefano every day between June and September, and once a week (usually Sundays) during the rest of the year. Tickets and schedules can be bought from Porto Santo Stefano or online on the Maregiglio website.
The ferry also stops at Giglio Island, so you can island hop if you have the time and feel so inclined.
If you're looking for something a little fancier, try Revenge Navigazione or Blu Navy. They make regular day trips to Giannutri Island, but it's a much more civilized affair with a fish lunch on board and additional stops that allow you to snorkel or scuba dive along the coastline.
For more information about the island and its diving areas or to inquire about tours and other activities, contact Giannutri's official tourist guide on +39 0564 806096 or +39 328 0244996, or visit the island's park website.
During peak tourist season (May to October), only 300 people are allowed on the island per day. During this time, tourists are restricted from exploring the island.
Rangers have set up a corridoio libero or free path that tourists can walk without a guide. This path runs from Cala Spalmatoio to Cala Maestra, as outlined in red in the above map. If you’re particularly keen on exploring the rest of the island, you can organise a guide by visiting the APT tourist office in Piazzale S.Andrea in Porto Santo Stefano.
With so many incredible dive sights for beginners and professionals alike, you won’t want to come up for air. If you can resist the urge to while away the day on one of the beaches that is.