It includes the terrestrial areas of the seven islands of Arcipelago
Toscano: Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri,
Gorgona, and the marine area surrounding the smaller islands. These
islands have a very different geological formation: Capraia is a
volcanic island, while Giglio and Elba are mainly granitic islands. A
great geological variety which influences shape and landscape of each
island. The very ancient presence of man, witnessed by the finds and
the long mineral processing tradition, has deeply shaped the original
vegetation and the ilex woods only survive in some parts of Elba, which
is dominated by Mediterranean maquis.
Arcipelago Toscano has always represented an important shelter and connection area between the Sardinian-Corsican system and the peninsula. This history has led to the presence in the Archipelago of extremely specialized animal and vegetal species which formed during the periods of isolation and species which only live in Corsica and Sardinia. There are colonies of sea birds, like shearwaters and seagulls, among which the rare Audouin's Gull, a Mediterranean endemic species which in Italy lives in a few places. The presence of the Mediterranean monk seal has also been sporadically recorded, and it also possible to sight cetaceans.
The islands are characterized by the presence of a number of endemic species. The most interesting ones are the citril finch, the common self heal, the Sardinian tree frog, the Tyrrhenian painted frog, and the leaf-fingered gecko. The terrestrial mammals are those typical of the Mediterranean environment, with the important presence of the marten; also the rabbit is rather widespread. On the contrary, the wild boar of the Maremma extinguished at the beginning of the 19th century. The species typical of Central Europe has been introduced thirty years ago, but it reproduced in an uncontrolled manner in the Elba, becoming a serious problem for the safeguard of the floristic endemic species and of the agricultural products. The Archipelago is a stop and nesting point for a number of migratory birds. There are also colonies of shearwaters and seagulls, among which the rare Audouin's gull which has been chosen as the Park's symbol.
The main aspects influencing the vegetation of Arcipelago Toscano are
the Mediterranean climate and the insularity. The dominating vegetation
consists of evergreen plants with coriaceous leaves protected by a
robust and hardly impermeable epidermis, or by plants with extremely
reduced leaves which sometimes become thorns, or those without leaves,
like the brooms.
Of the large holm oak forests, nowadays only some copses remain; the orographic and altitude complexity of the Isola d'Elba has favoured the presence of chestnut tree woods; on the mountains there are the European yew and the hop hornbeam.
The most frequent vegetation in the Park is today the Mediterranean maquis. Among its species we remember: the strawberry tree, the buckthorn, the mastic tree, Phoenician juniper, the myrtle, the heath, the rosemary, the lavender, the wonderful brooms, and the colored cyst.
Linaria Capraria and the sea lily are worth a mention.
In Italy, after the establishment of some reserves, Arcipelago toscano was the first great marine Park. It is the largest protected area of the European seas. The Park is characterized by a great variety of habitats populated by different living beings.
The great biological diversity of the Archipelago is also due to the variety of the coasts and of the bottom of the sea: from the beaches of the Elba to the rocky cliffs of the western Capraia, several vegetable and animal species live in each ravine of one of the most fascinating natural environments, the sea.
(the following links lead to Italian texts)
The Elba Island's and its inhabitants' history is linked to the iron mines which worked until the last century.
The mineral extraction on the island seems to have started some thousand years before Christ thanks to the people called "Ilvates" coming from the present Liguria, which the name "Ilva" - ancient name of Elba - comes from. The Etruscans and then also the Romans boosted the iron materials extraction and processing activities, especially for the hematite.>>>
(The following links lead to Italian web pages)
Summer sunsets are a natural show able to attract everyone visiting the Tuscan Archipelago. Tasting the colors, admiring the shades, getting lost between the golden and silver chips of light reflected by the sea surface, admiring the shimmering colors of the sun reflected by an old building or by a trunk while soft pastel shades paint the sky is an unforgettable experience.
Further information (Italian text)
The Tuscan Archipelago islands have been always considered - thanks to their size and features - ideal places for experimentation with different purposes and realization modalities depending on the epoch and on the political and social emergencies people had to face. In 1858 Pianosa opened the doors to the agricultural penal colonies that, from being a privileged imprisonment place for not very dangerous prisoners, became a punishment place with the establishment of the top-security prison. In the late 1990s the penal institutes were closed with the open possibility of "second thoughts".
Further information (Italian text)