Montecristo was made famous by the French novelist Alexandre Dumas in his classic The Count of Monte Cristo, a story of revenge, honour and buried treasure.
Montecristo is not easy to visit. Until a few years ago only scientists and park rangers could disembark at Cala Maestra, the island’s natural harbour, where boats are allowed to dock. It was open for guided tours only in 2008 but the number of visitors is limited to 1000 a year.
Island of Monte Cristo nature reserve
Nowadays the island has only two permanent human inhabitants, both nature reserve keepers. In addition, agents of the State Forestry Corps from Follonica live there in alternating shifts of two weeks at a time. The state nature reserve Isola di Monte Cristo is a biogenetic reserve of 1,039 hectares established in 1971 by ministerial decree to protect the unique nature of the island. Today it belongs to the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. It was also awarded the European Diploma of Protected Areas in 1988, and recognized as a site of pan-European interest.
Visitors face a number of restrictions. It is not possible to stay overnight, and fishing, swimming, and surfing is prohibited within 1,000 meters of the coast. It is possible to cruise within three miles (4.8 km)of the coast, but not to fish. Access by sea can take place only at Cala Maestra, where the seabed is sandy, with an approach course perpendicular to the coast; it is possible to dock at the pier or tie up against a buoy, but dropping anchor is not allowed; there is also a small heliport for emergencies. To visit the island, one must apply for access at the Forestry Corps in Follonica.
Visitors with basic authorisation must stay at Cala Maestra, and can visit only the Royal Villa, the botanical garden, and the museum. The waiting list for access is long, since an upper limit has been set of only 1,000 visitors per year. The average waiting time for approval is three years; priority is given to scientific expeditions, associations, and schools. Tours take place only on the three existing trails, all very challenging.
Access Information and permission
Access by sea can take place only at Cala Maestra.
Corpo Forestale di Follonica
Telefono: 0566 400 19
- "Isolani, ma non isolate" (in Italian). Retrieved 27 February 2012. archive.org
- Ministero dell`Ambiente – Le aree protette italiane insignite del Diploma" (in Italian).
- Habitats Directive WWF European Shadow List" (PDF). WWF. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- The Forbidden Island of Montecristo, Tuscany Retrieved 12.7.2016