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Italy's Small Islands


North Adriatic Southern Adriatic Liguria Ionian
Sardinia Southern Tyrrhenian Northern Tyrrhenian Other Small Islands


Italy has a very rich system of archipelagos: around the coasts of the Italian peninsula and the two larger islands, there is an array of large and small islands of extraordinary beauty, where the quality of the environment is an essential feature far tourists whose reasons far choosing a holiday include the possibility of immersing themselves totally in nature. Often artistic and historical sites go hand in hand with the beauties of natural settings and, as always in Italy, unique traditions, folklore and good food. Islands have always been perfect places, symbolic images of the mind, and horizons far all journeys. We only need think of sailors and their reactions when the shape of an island appears out of the sea, and becomes far them a she1ter and a dream far body and mind.

Island dwellers are people of fairy tales and legend: people moulded by the sun and the salt water, by an inexhaustib1e strugg1e to grab tram the sea spaces to live; people who have myriad fantastic stories in their hearts, suspended between the sea and the land. There are many examples of this magical world in the Italian Mediterranean, which, alongside Sicily and Sardinia, has thousands of little islands, each to be discovered and loved. We cannot he1p but perceive the unusual features of these microcosms created by men who have struggled hard with the e1ements, and admire the almost uncontaminated natural environment that, in many cases, has been kept intact and is today jealously safeguarded.

Tremiti islands

In the Adriatic, apposite the Gargano coasts in Apulia, there are the Tremiti islands, also called the Diomedean islands, with a reference to Greek mythology. The reference to myth is, however, not the only fascinating thing about these extremely beautiful islands {the main ones are San Domino and San Nicola}; their environment is protected by a large marine reserve and they are linked to the Apulian coast by a ferry service. The sight of Father Pius or the Sea, the most impressive underwater statue in the world, is extremely moving, and the ancient fortified abbey at San Nicola, references to which date back to the 11th century, is very beautiful.

Aeolian Islands

And now we go to the north of the Milazzo peninsula and the Patti gulf, to the seven Aeolian (or Lipari) islands all extremely beautiful. There are Alicudi and Filicudi, with the remains of a Bronze Age village; Stromboli, rising up to aver 900 metres above sea level; Salina, very green, with vines used to produce highly prized wines; Vulcano, with thermal springs and sulphurous steam jets; the largest island with very impressive archeological remains dating back to the 16th and 17th century B.C. and a museum with exhibits that are fundamental for studyng Prehistory and Greek and Roman antiquity: and finally Panarea, the smallest, with a crown of rocks and uninhabited little islands.

Pontine Islands

Further south, the little Pontine archipelago is situated almost at the centre of the Tyrrhenian, off the coast of Latium, and comprises two groups of islands: <b>Ponza, Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi to the northwest, and <b>Ventotene and Santo Stefano to the southeast. There afe around 22 nautical miles between these two groups. The sea, with its clear, deep waters, makes these idealic islands, especially far those who lave venturing out far sub-aqua activities.

Pelagie Island

South of Sicily there is another wonderful natural maritime sight: the Pelagian islands, which are also volcanic and include Lampedusa - with high coastlines overlooking the water and important, prehistoric, archaeological remains, Linosa, inhabited by fishermen, and the very small Lampione.

Napolitan Island

The islands in the gulf of Naples are famous throughout the world and have been immortalised in Hollywood films: they are Capri, Ischia and Procida - each one more beautiful than the next. Capri is well known everywhere far its Faraglioni (or monolithic rocks) and the Blue Grotto, and has fascinating reminders of its far off past (Roman ruins and a fourteenth century monastery); it is now an essential location far international high society to visit. Ischia is the largest of the islands in the gulf, famous far its climate, its lush vegetation, and the healing powers of its thermal waters that gush out in various places, and at high temperatures too (the island, in fact, has volcanic origins). Finally, little, flat Procida is a land of fishermen, and though it is certainly less famous far its natural beauties it is equally, if not more, interesting because of its cultural aspects.

Tuscany Islands

In the Tyrrhenian sea there afe three important groups of islands. Off Tuscany there is the archipelago that includes Elba, Capraia, Gorgona, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri. The best known of these islands is Elba, which is also the largest, with nearly 150 kilometres of coastal development and a historical cultural heritage that adds various, unusual dimensions to the many attractions offered far tourists. <br>The other islands have various kinds of restricted access (mainly far naturalistic reasons), and only Giglio can offer accommodation far tourists in a setting which can only be defined as extraordinary.

Egadi Islands

The last set of lesser Sicilian islands is the Egadi group, a few miles tram the Trapani coast. It includes three main islands: Favignana, the best known, with genti e hills and a dense Mediterranean maquis; Levanzo, with a tiny port and the Palaeolithic graffiti of the Genovese cave; and Marettimo, the most western and hilly. The Egadi islands have some of the most important tunny-fishing sites in Sicily.

Other Islands

North of Palermo, on the other hand, Ustica has a wild appearance that is the result of the dark colour of the lava stone. Its inshore and offshore waters are protected by environmental regulations, and it was the first marinereserve to be established in Italy in 1986; this has promoted it as the favourite island of sub-aqua enthusiasts.
Sardinia, too, is surrounded by a set of small islands, starting with the heavenly Maddalena archipelago, 23 islands, large and small, that are a compulsory destination far any lover of the sea, because of the charm and the perfume of the Mediterranean vegetation, the transparency of the waters and the very fine sand of the beaches.

There are places with famous names, linked to history: Caprera, where you can find the house and museum of Giuseppe Garibaldi - the hero of Italian independence who retired there in his latter years; Maddalena, the only town, with a fine naval museum housing the complete load of a Roman ship which drowned in the waters of the neighbouring island of Spargi; the splendid Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria: these last two are separated by the Passo degli Asinelli, or Donkey Pass, the name given to a ford, because many years ago it was travelled by donkeys employed to transport provisions to the men working at the Razzoli lighthouse, a forward sentry . far those sailing in the Bocche di Bonifacio.

Opposite the gulf of Olbia, the large majestic island of Tavolara stretches out, rising to 565 metres above sea level, and just to the south, there is the lower lying Molara, with the ruins of a medieval castle.

Two other islands which should be mentioned are Asinara, north of Stintino; access to this island is prohibited to the public because it contains a prison, and it has therefore kept its scenery uncontaminated and has recently become a National Park. Finally there is San Pietro, off Portoscuso on the west coast. This was uninhabited until 1737 and was colonised by Ligurian immigrants who founded Carloforte - today one of the best known seaside resorts in Sardinia.


Small Islands

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