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Pianosa >> Presentation >> more.......
After 150 years as a penal settlement, Pianosa was freed and once again opened its gates to visitors, offering a unique, splendid and absolutely untouched environment. The presence of prisoners, initially by the will of Tuscan Grand Dukes and then of the Italian Republic, actually did keep mass-tourism at a distance and safeguarded Pianosa's eco-system from the havoc tourist industry has caused in other areas of the Archipelago. Among the three Tuscan islands, it is the only one that is leveled. Pianosa is a true paradise for visitors that appreciate cultural and environmental values and it offers an incredible historical, archeological and naturalistic patrimony. Pianosa preserves a few Paleolithic caves, at Punta Secca and at Cala Giovanna, that give witness to mans' presence here 18.000 years ago, but its true archeological treasure are the catacombs that tell us about the dawn of the Christian civilization. It is a monumental complex that dates back to 300 - 400 B.C, when the Christian prisoners, victims of the imperial persecution, where condemned to work in the island's tufa mines. Thanks to recent restoration work, the public will soon be allowed to visit them. On the Teglia promontory, in front of the small harbor, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, rises the fortress built by Napoleon that erects on the small 19:th century habitation where the prison-direction had its seat and the workers their quarters. The emperor is actually the one to thank for most of the urban work done at Pianosa, that show his cultural eclecticism by mixing sober medieval elegance with both oriental and renaissance particularities. The splendid Cala Giovanna leads to the unique Roman ruins that have remained on the island, the baths and Villa di Agrippa, exiled by his uncle to the heart of the Tuscan archipelago, Emperor Augustus, out of probable hostility versus the ruling dynasty and killed in order to guarantee the throne for the favored Tiberius. The baths of Agrippa have recently been subject to an extensive restoration performed by Tuscany's Archeological Superintendence and are since then open to the public. The impressing wall that rises behind Cala Giovanna, the only sandy scythe on the island that faces a multi-colored sea, was erected on the will of General Dalla Chiesa during the leaden years, when the prison at Pianosa lodged members of the Mafia and terrorists. Since the penal settlement was closed, four years ago, some of the prisoners in rehabilitation guarantee the functioning of essential services, following the directives of the prison at Porto Azzurro on Elba. Pianosa's morphology is radically different from the other Tuscan islands due to its' particular origin. There are no hills on the island and is for the most part made up of sedimentary rocks and of accumulations of shells that render colors and shapes that can not be found elsewhere in the Tuscan sea. One should not miss out on the view over the splendid cove Porto Romano that you get from the northern cape of the island, behind the Marchese ruins. Just as charming are the colors at the reef that connects Punta del Marchese with Punta di Libeccio, where yellow, ochre and ivory gradations hide the marine fossils that were captured during passed eras. The reef's untouched nature hides a hinterland on the contrary intensely modified by human activities: of the ancient and wild high-tree woods, mostly made up of ilex and oak-trees, hardly nothing is left and the cereal steppes defined by dry walls tell about agriculture activities and farming, intensified by the presence of the penal settlement. The charm of Pianosa is given off by the plumage and the chirruping of birds that you could even say form the only population on the island since the total number of human-beings only reach about twenty. The sea-gull and the Pilgrim hawk nest here, as well as the hoopoes, bee-eaters and buzzards, shearwaters and cormorants, but the luckiest bird-watchers could even sight a Queen hawk, a roller or an eagle. Naturalists paradise hides even more surprising treasures under the uncontaminated waves: caves and canyons, Roman amphora and red corals, while groupers, dentex, bass and giant mullets are some of the species that can be found in the waters of this ecosystem with extraordinary archeological and ecological value that the historical and political vicissitudes, more or less on purpose, have preserved. The calcareous bottom at Pianosa makes the color of the water even stronger and would make any hotel-owner in the Caribbean envious and to understand it you only need to put on a mask and put the head under the water at Cala Giovanna, the only area on the island where it is allowed to swim. At Pianosa it is actually forbidden to anchor, go fishing, dive or sail as it would harm this natural oasis that functions as a maternity ward for several species risking extinction or anyhow are threatened by the iniquitous consequences of mans' progress. To symbolize Pianosa's role and naturalists will to protect and to increase the value of this jewel in the Tuscan archipelago, in August 2000, three species of turtles were released on the island's beaches with the hope that they would find new places along the coasts where to lay their eggs. To visit Pianosa you have to contact the Ente Parco dell'Arcipelago Toscano or the city-council at Campo nell'elba where you can make reservations.

Photos from APT Tuscan Archipelago and Mediaweb srl.
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