Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Day on Giannutri Island

Last Sunday, Melanie and I went on a daytrip to the island of Giannutri.  We'd read about the excursion in a local magazine, organised by a local group 'Friends of Melograno' - still not sure exactly what the group is about, but we must be friends too as they've since invited us to future events.

So at the ungodly hour of 6-30am, 50 of us depart by bus from Lucca and head south for a 2 and a half hour trip to a small port.  From here, after a quick coffee to recharge, we take a 1 hour ferry and arrive at the island at 11am.

Giannutri Island is small - just 3km by 1km - and with 7 other nearby islands, is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.  It's rocky and arid, but has 2 beaches, which we head off to as its 33C today - the 10th consecutive day over 30C; phew, life's tough here in Tuscany!

The beach here is a mixture of pebbles and sand, sort of a cross between an Australian beach and an Italian beach.  We find some shade, while most of the others sunbathe on the many flat rocks close by.

Later, we head off on a guided walk to the south of the island, where a historic lighthouse is being restored.  The calcareous rock means the water drains quickly, limiting the fauna to hardier plants - although the guide points out rosemary, juniper bushes, a wild olive variety, and a few more.

It looks a lot like Wilson's Prom, minus the ti-tree.

Here's the view back to the harbour we arrived at.  The safe anchorage attracts plenty of yachties, who can resupply at the single shop on the island.

On the walk, we see in the distance the island of Montecristo, the setting for the book and movie 'The Count of Montecristo'.

The landmass in the background of this photo is the island of Giglio....more on that later.


Here's an abandoned Roman villa, the only building (apart from the lighthouse) on the southern half of the island.

Melanie says she wants to buy it, renovate, and get on 'Grand Designs'.

The lighthouse is the barely visible column behind the red and white building.  This is as close as we could get, as the area near the lighthouse is restricted due to a breeding ground of the endangered Corsican seagull - sounds like the  'endangered growling grass frog' story from Melbourne, all over again.

After returning to the harbour, and another swim, we depart Giannutri on the 4pm ferry and head back to the mainland.

In the background is Giglio island, which the ferry takes us past, about 4km away.  The tiny white horizontal speck at the right tip of the island is the remains of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that sank in January 2012 with the death of 32 people, due to the incompetence of the captain.

The photo below of the Costa Concordia is from a website.

We take the bus home, arriving just in time to watch Italy beat England in the quarterfinals of Euro2012 - which is great, except that half of Lucca then drives around honking their horns in celebration until 2am!

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