Beautiful Prison-Island Off the Coast of Tuscany Now Open to Visits

| Mon, 03/21/2016 - 10:20
Tuscan Archipelago

Gorgona, the smallest of the Tuscan Archipelago islands, is set to open to visitors starting this Spring.

Up until now, visits to the islands were limited and only granted after presenting written request. The beautiful tiny  island is in fact a prison-island, housing a penitentiary with almost 70 prisoners and roughly the same amount of residents, although only seven live there permanently.

Now an agreement has been signed between the city of Livorno, the Archipelago Park Authority and the prison, to provide tourist access to the island, with an eye for sustainability.

Extending over only 2,23 square kilometers, Gorgona is the smallest and northernmost of the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago (the others are Elba, Giglio, Giannutri, Capraia, Pianosa, and Montecristo). It is about 36 km from Livorno, 40 from Capraia and 60 from Corsica. Mainly mountainous and full of typical Mediterranean vegetation, it features just one main center, a small village around the marina. Going up and inland, one finds two ancient fortifications, Torre Vecchia and Torre Nova, and a fortified church, dedicated to St. Gregory.

The prisoners are able to move freely on the grounds of the penal colony, tending to agricultural work, with only an evening curfew and lockdown. During the day, they tend to a vineyard owned by the Frescobaldi family, which has been producing wine in Tuscany for over 700 years. The penal colony is also home to a vegetable garden and olive tree grove where olive oil is produced, as well as livestock facilities producing high quality cheese, chicken and pork. It is all part of a project where businesses are invited to invest in the island to give prisoners skills and training they will be able to use once released.

Visits are allowed only accompanied by  a local guide, with maximum 75 visitors per day, divided into three groups of 25 people. Easy hikes (from 3 to 8 kilometers) around the island will allow them to explore its natural beauty. Gorgona is also home to some gorgeous beaches with a crystal clear sea, so far closed to public access. Now that is set to change as well, with the opening of some beaches.

The boat for Gorgona will depart from the Darsena Vecchia in the port of Livorno, at 7.45 am, four days a week, and return between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. It will not be possible to move freely on the island, nor to carry mobile phones and cameras, which will need to be checked into a deposit when disembarking.

For more information, click here