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The smaller islands in Italy

The Italian peninsula, lapped along its entire length by the sea, includes, in addition to Sicily and Sardinia, numerous smaller islands grouped almost all in archipelagos. Most of these islands are located in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

In the northern Tyrrhenian Sea is the Tuscan Archipelago, consisting of seven main islands: the island of Elba is the largest one. The second largest island is Giglio Island. The island of Capraia is all of volcanic origin. Montecristo, Giannutri, Pianosa, Gorgona and some islets are in the same archipelago. The islands are part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. The Archipelago is a very popular tourist and seaside area. The Island of Elba has high and rocky coasts, interspersed with inlets where there are small sandy beaches. Between 1814 and 1815 it was the residence of Napoleon in exile.

Going further south, in front of the Gulf of Gaeta, we meet the Pontine Islands, five main islands almost entirely of volcanic origin: Ponza (the largest one), Palmarola, Ventotene, Zannone and S. Stefano. Ventotene is the smallest and most evocative of the Pontine Islands, and is a concentration of nature, sea, stories and legends. The islet of S. Stefano instead houses a prison erected in the Bourbon era.

Further south, facing the Gulf of Naples, extends the Campania Archipelago consisting of 5 major islands: Ischia, Capri, Procida, Vivara and Nisida. They are all of volcanic origin, with the exception of Capri. The town of Procida extends over a large part of the island with its picturesque houses in bright colors. Above, on a promontory, stands the castle, now a prison; from the opposite terrace you can enjoy a wonderful view. Not far away is the highest point of the island, where the church of San Michele stands.

To the north of Sicily we find the Aeolian Islands. There are seven main islands. Lipari, Vulcano and Salina form a close group, while Filicudi and Alicudi emerge to the west, Panarea to the northeast and Stromboli further away, facing the Calabrian coast. They are all islands of volcanic origin (Vulcano, Lipari and Stromboli are still active volcanoes). The town of Stromboli has white houses scattered on the mountain slope among the green of palm trees, olive trees and citrus groves. It is popular as a health resort, for sea bathing and for underwater sports. Along the coast there are high cliffs interspersed with short beaches.

The island of Ustica is always located in Sicily, but northeast of the city of Palermo. The island is nicknamed the black pearl of the Mediterranean due to the dark color of its rocks formed by solidified lava. It is a very suggestive and wild island.

Other Sicilian islands are Egadi, opposite the city of Trapani; the main ones are Favignana, Marettimo, Levanzo. Levanzo is the smallest of Egadi islands. The absence of roads allows the visitor to make excursions along paths of great charm. To see the Genovese Cave, with rock paintings dating back to around 9200 BC.

Pelagie Islands are located south of Sicily; the northernmost is Linosa, of volcanic origin; Lampedusa, closer to the African continent, is instead known for its beautiful beaches, including Spiaggia dei Conigli, with shallow waters and a rich marine life. The Marine Protected Area overlooks the southern coast, a place where sea turtles lay their eggs.

Even the island of Pantelleria, which is not part of an archipelago, is quite distant from the coast of Sicily. One of the symbolic places of Pantelleria is the “Arco dell’Elefante”, a seaside resort known for a huge rock of lava stone in the shape of an elephant’s trunk that enters the water creating a large arch.

In front of the coasts of Sardinia, in the Strait of Bonifacio, we have the Maddalena Archipelago, consisting of five main islands: Maddalena, Caprera, S. Maria, Budelli and Spargi. Caprera is a very well preserved and protected island because it is part of the National Park of the Archipelago of La Maddalena, therefore with postcard landscapes and sparsely inhabited (to date it does not exceed 150 inhabitants).

Other islands of Sardinia are Tavolara Island, facing the Gulf of Olbia and Asinara Island facing Porto Torres. Opposite the coast of Sulcis, in southern Sardinia are the islands of S. Antioco and the island of S. Pietro.

In the Adriatic Sea the only archipelago is that of Tremiti islands, off the coast of Puglia, and is made up of three main islands: San Domino, San Nicola and Capraia.

Finally there are the small islands of the gulf of La Spezia, located in the Ligurian Sea. They are three: Palmaria Island, Tino and Tinetto, included in the “Porto Venere Regional Natural Park”. Palmaria Island is separated from the ancient medieval town of Porto Venere by a narrow stretch of sea.