I didn’t have much information about Capraia and when I decided to visit the island and the first thing I did was to get as much information as possible from the net.
I have to say that I didn’t find a lot of things so I decided to write a post to tell this little jewel in the Tuscan archipelago.
I had no idea that this small island was full of contrasts:
A very green territory is contrasted by barren patches where the appearance of a severe harshness coexist with a softer, sunnier panorama.
Why choose Capraia
Apparently it does not offer the idea of being an “easy” island if we only think that it is inhabited by only three hundred people and that it is certainly not comparable to the small island of Giglio as far as services and road connections are concerned.
The desire to visit it was born precisely from the wild aspect of this almost timeless island without references of any kind and where it would have been possible to regain possession of some values that everyday life often makes us forget as the management of time and space.
On the island of Capraia my first suggestion is to leave your watch in your suitcase and set the day according to natural rhythms and not those dictated by the times we are subjected to.
Island Capraia where it is located
the island of Capraia is located in front of Livorno and more exactly 64 km from the port of embarkation. It is part of the Tuscan Archipelago whose largest island is the Island of Elba.
How to get there
After a bit of research we left our car at the car park near the Porto Mediceo in Livorno from where I boarded a Toremar ferry which took me to the island of Capraia in two hours and three quarters.
The first impact was with a marked change in rhythms and habits (not always as healthy as using the car even for five hundred metres!).
Capraia turned substantially on foot and, after having earned the exit from the port, I reached the hotel I had reserved.
A really demanding climb as a first impact, especially with the sun and the heat that reigned that day. It would have been better to take the bus also to have a vague idea of the island.
Capraia is part of the Tuscan archipelago and is the only island of volcanic origin, which has enriched the soil making it ideal for a vegetation where arbutus, heather, myrtle and mastic trees reign, as well as other species belonging to the Mediterranean maquis.
Capraia where to sleep
You will be able to choose your accommodation among houses and flats that come specially local to tourists both in the harbour area and in the centre of the village or in the few hotels on the island.
The best period for a stay is from the end of spring until the beginning of autumn.
Toremar is the shipping company that connects the city of Livorno from the Mediceo Port with the port of Capraia with daily trips of 2 hours and 45 minutes, sailing only in the morning at 8.30 am.
Despite being an island, Capraia does not offer many beaches where you can spend a day by the sea. Especially for tourists and for those who come for the first time, it is useful to know that to get to the various coves present, it is necessary to face paths often uncomfortable and strongly downhill (obviously uphill on the way back).
The best points are the following: Cala San Francesco (pebble and rocky beach with beautiful seabed that make snorkelers happy. The beach is not equipped), Cala dello Zurletto (pebble beach that plunges into an intense turquoise sea but that implies a dirt road and a long final staircase), the Bagno (called snorkeling gym because of its high but colourful seabed), the Grotta (beach equipped with beach umbrellas, bar and bathing assistance) and Cala del Ceppo and Cala di Portovecchio (two beautiful spots where you can snorkel).
Capraia what to see
In an island of disarming beauty where bays of rocks and crystal clear waters of a thousand shades of colour follow one another, it seems incredible that this place has been a severe penal colony.
There are only two inhabited centres, the Port area and the village, joined together by a steep climb of less than a kilometre.
As mentioned at the beginning, the absence of roads also makes it futile to bring a car or even a two-wheeler, which would only be a problem.
Moving by taxi boat
It is best to take advantage of a convenient taxi boat service that can transport you to some cove on the island, picking you up at an agreed time. Alternatively, I can suggest you to rent a motor boat to drive even without a boat license to really explore Capraia, but keeping in mind that being part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, sailing and bathing are forbidden in some places.
Cala Ceppo Capraia
I took the opportunity to take a swim in Cala del Ceppo which I reached after leaving the lighthouse area and the cove of San Francesco characterized by the 18th century watchtower.
I then reached the Carbicina, a scenic bay dominated by reddish and turquoise colours and sea beds so beautiful that it took my breath away.
I continued my exploration reaching the locality of Cala Rossa, practically the crater of the volcano from which the island was originated, recognizable by the red colour of the lava rocks which are distinguished from the blue of the sea that surrounds them.
Reaching almost the border of the park, I was able to snorkel at the Grotta della Foca Monaca before ending the day with a nice dip in the waters of the Scoglio del Gatto.
Cala Mortola the only sandy beach of Capraia
During my stay I took a taxi boat to Cala della Mortola as I had been told that it was the only sandy coastline in the whole of Capraia, where I spent most of my day before returning to the hotel and getting ready for an aperitif tasted in a restaurant in the marina and enjoying the view from the Torre del Porto.
I could not miss a visit to the sixteenth century Fortress San Giorgio, wanted by the Genoese at the time of their Maritime Republic as well as the Port Tower.
One of the interesting aspects of Capraia and that have partly originated my interest in the small Tuscan island is that it is a real Eden for trekking enthusiasts, so much so that every spring there is the Walking Festival which sees the island populated by hundreds of walkers.
If you are not accustomed to walking, you can simply walk along the road that leads from the port to the former prison above Porto Vecchio, but if you are a sportsman, you can choose between the various paths that unravel inside the island.
For example, the Reganico path takes you to the beautiful Cala dello Zurletto, but there are others that allow you to reach the Stagnone or even the Zenobito Tower.
Renting a boat is ideal for visiting all the coves
Another advice is to rent a small boat and point the bow towards the north-western part, first crossing the bay of Porto Vecchio and then arrive at Mortola and continue to Punta Teglia, which you have to overcome keeping your attention so as not to end up in the shallows of the Formiche that remain on the right. Once you reach the Bricchetti inlet you can drop anchor and take a dip in this stretch of sea that tells the legend that the cliffs you will see are nothing more than the faces of the Saracen pirates who attacked this part of the island.
A timeless universe where every moment is marked by an uncommon slowness and where the inhabitants all know each other and where the novelty is waiting for the next day’s ship to make comments on the visiting tourists.
The total absence of locality is contrasted by the beauty given by mother nature to this island by the rocky coasts full of ravines that can only be reached by sea.
What to eat in Capraia
Eating in Capraia is also important and everything revolves around fish and squids that are caught here so much that a festival is dedicated at the end of October to celebrate the end of the summer season.
From fish soup to freshly caught carpaccio, everything is delicious even if Capraia’s nectar (a sort of millefiori honey) or myrtle or sour cherry jams are products to fall in love with.
Staying on this island reconciles the spirit with the universe and allows us to rediscover a neuro-vegetative balance capable of resetting any anxiety and anguish that contributes to making our days negative.