isola di giannutri
The small crescent island in the Tuscan Archipelago

Giannutri Island

A natural paradise in the Tuscan Archipelago with the impressive Villa Romana

Just south-west of the Monte Argentario peninsula is the southernmost of the islands of the Tuscan archipelago, the Isola di Giannutri, with its unmistakable crescent shape.

Giannutri is a small paradise without cars (and roads) and without large tourist structures. The island is largely privately owned and, despite the villas scattered between the Cala dello Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra bays, is a natural paradise where the Mediterranean scrub dominates with its colours and scents.

Giannutri is also an ideal resting place for a large number of migratory birds on the long journey between their wintering grounds and their breeding grounds in northern Europe.

Due to the limestone nature of the island, the waters are exceptionally transparent and offer a unique underwater diversity. Giannutri is known as a first-class diving area, where there are also various shipwrecks to discover.

In the north-west, near the bay of Cala Maestra, there is an archaeological site with the remains of the Roman Villa Romana. Built between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD by the Domizi Enobarbi family – the same family to which Nero belonged – it has been open to guided tours again since 2015.


Factsheet Giannutri Island

Giannutri is located about 8 miles south-east of Isola del Giglio and about 6 miles south-west of Monte Argentario. The island is about 3 kilometres long and just over 500 metres wide and covers an area of 260 hectares. The highest point is Poggio Capel Rosso at 88 metres above sea level. There is only one small beach in Cala Maestra, otherwise the 11 kilometre-long coastline is very rugged and rocky. Administratively, it belongs to the municipality of Isola del Giglio (province of Grosseto).

  • Area: 2.62 km²
  • Coastal development: 11 km
  • Length: 2.5 km
  • Width: 500 metres
  • Maximum height: 88 metres (Poggio Capel Rosso)
  • Municipality: Isola del Giglio
  • Province: Grosseto
  • Inhabitants: about 20 people during the winter season
  • More info:
Cartina Arcipelago Toscano Giannuitri

History of the island of Giannutri

The island of Giannutri was certainly already inhabited in prehistoric times, as evidenced by the numerous finds of tools and weapons, and was visited by the Etruscans and Romans. Several wrecks of merchant ships still lie on the seabed of this section, bearing witness to ancient maritime traffic.

The Romans, who probably belonged to the Domizi Enobarbi family, also left the island the remains of an ancient harbour in the bay Cala dello Spalmatoio and a breathtaking Villa Romana in the bay Cala Maestra, which was built in the first half of the second century AD.

Due Gabbiani Reali in volo all'Isola del Giglio

Gulls Island

Giannutri is also known as Isola dei Gabbiani (Island of the Gulls). This name refers to the large colony of Mediterranean gulls (Gabbiano Reale, Larus Michahellis) that inhabit the island.


The Roman villa on Giannutri

The Villa Romana complex was built between 90 and 100 AD on the initiative of the imperial house of Domizi Enobarbi, which included the Nero family. The Villa Romana, also known as Villa Domizia, covered an area of around 5 hectares and had a large terrace that was directly accessible from the sea via a staircase.

The remains of the numerous buildings occupy the central western part of the island, which extends over a large part of the coast between the bay Punta Scaletta (today a residential area) and the bay Cala Maestra, where the main jetty was located. A second jetty was located in the bay Cala Spalmatoio, on the opposite side of the island.

The complex included the living quarters of the imperial family, three of which must even have been equipped with a heating system. The excavations uncovered the remains of beautiful floors, which were decorated with finely chiselled marble and black and white mosaics. Baths, slave quarters and outbuildings are also visible, as is the pipe and cistern system, which distributed the collected rainwater or the water transported from the mainland across the entire island.

The residential area

The actual villa (A) with rooms and terraces on different levels was built on a gentle slope down to the sea. Just behind the main building are the remains of another building with several rooms called “Conventacci” (B). Along the avenue that connected the villa to the harbour (today it is privately owned and cannot be visited), there are the remains of several rooms of uncertain use (C; D; E), the baths (F) and other structures that once formed the entrance to the villa (G).

Blue: free paths
Yellow: only accessible with a guide
Red: not accessible (private property)

The harbour area

In the bay of Cala Maestra there was a series of functional buildings for the boat landing stage: the buildings known as ‘The Rooms’ (H; I), the monumental exedra built on the cliffs (L), the dock (M), the cistern (N) and a truncated pyramid (O) with an unclear function. Further south is the cetaria for the production of tinned fish (P).
Cartina Villa Romana Isola di Giannutri

Visit to the Villa Romana

Villa Romana has been open again for guided tours since 2015. These are offered by the park from May to October, both for the archaeological excavation site and for hikes on the island (see information below in the section “Visit Giannutri). You cannot visit the Roman Villa alone  or go hiking without a park guide (you are only allowed to move freely within the so-called “corridor” between the bays of Cala Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra).


Territorio Isola di Giannutri, Arcipelago Toscano

Territory and environment

Giannutri Archipelago Park​

The southernmost of the Tuscan islands has a rugged, rocky coastline with many caves and crevices. Its calcareous nature makes for exceptionally crystalline waters with immense biodiversity; the areas protected by the park have a positive effect on the reproduction of Mediterranean life forms and make the underwater landscapes some of the most sought-after in the archipelago.

The landscape of the island is largely unspoilt – only in the central part have holiday homes been built – and is dominated by the Mediterranean scrub. Rosemary, myrtle and mastic bushes (Pistacia lentiscus) also grow on the cliffs. Of great botanical interest is the red-fruited juniper (Juniperus phoenicea), which makes few demands on the soil and copes very well with the barren rocky subsoil of the island. There are also spurge bushes (Euphorbia) up to two metres high on the island and on the north side there is a rock oak grove.

Giannutri is a resting place for a large number of migratory birds and is also known as Seagull Island (Isola dei Gabbiani) due to its large colony of gulls (Gabbiani Reali). It is home to the pale swift (Apus pallidus) and seabird species such as the rare Sepia shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) and the shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) breed in the caves of the cliffs.

Mappa delle aree protette dell'Isola di Giannutri del Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano
Giannutri is located within the Tuscan Archipelago National Park (IT) and the surrounding waters are also part of the protected area. The protected areas are:
  • On land integral protection of the island: without authorisation, you can only move freely between Cala Maestra and Cala Spalmatoio
  • At sea: The sea around the island is divided into zones 1 and 2, with the exception of two access corridors for boats. In Zone 1, access, navigation, anchoring, fishing and diving are prohibited. In Zone 2, fishing is regulated by the park administration.

Diving in Giannutri​

Giannutri is a true paradise for snorkellers and divers: the untouched underwater world is rich in fish, corals and Posidonia meadows.

At Punta Scaletta are the remains of an intact Roman boat, as well as in the bay of Spalmatoio, where the remains of Roman and Etruscan wrecks can be found.

The best dive sites are: Punta Secca, Nasim Machines, Punta Pennello, Anna Bianca Wreck, Le Piscine, Cala Ischiaiola and Punta San Francesco.

Diving schools that offer excursions from the island of Giglio are: ZeroMeno Diving Centre

Visit Giannutri

The island of Giannutri can be reached from Porto S. Stefano (Monte Argentario) either with the regular ferry lines or mini-cruises. In Giannutri, the ships usually dock in the bay Cala dello Spalmatoio, only in unfavourable winds in the bay on the other side, Cala Maestra.

The only bathing beach on the island is located in the Cala Maestra bay; the rest of the coast is rocky and difficult to access.

It is not permitted to walk on the trails without the company of a park guide. The only freely accessible path is the one between the bays of Cala Maestra and Cala dello Spalmataio.

In the small square of the settlement on the Cala dello Spalmataio is the Bar Restaurant La Vela, which also runs the grocery shop Alimentari La Comubusa (opening hours from Easter to mid-October only at weekends and from June to September also during the week):

In the Cala Maestra you will find the Ristorante Animosque instead.
A landing fee or local tax of € 5.50 must be paid all year round to visit the island of Giannutri. The amount is payable to the park administration and applies per day, regardless of how long you stay on the island and regardless of the time of day. For those who reach the island by scheduled boats or mini-cruises, the fee is included in the ticket; those who reach the island by private boats can buy the ticket in advance online or purchase it at the bars in the bays of Cala Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra. Online ticket purchase: >.

Mini-cruise to Giannutri Island

Nava Minicrociera Cala Spalmatoio Villaggio Cala Spalmatoio Isola di Giannutri, Arcipelago Toscano
During the summer months, excursions and Porto Santo Stefano, Castiglione della Pescaia or Elba include stops of around 3 hours on the two islands…

Ferries to Giannutri

Traghetti Toremar e Mariglio a Porto Santo Stefano

Giannutri can also be reached by the ferry from Porto Santo Stefano. The regular connections with outward and return journeys on the same day are around twice a week in winter and several times a week from spring to autumn.


Guided Tours and Activities in the Tuscan Maremma

Guided Visits of the Park

From May to October, the Tuscan Archipelago National Park offers both natural history and historical-archaeological tours. Some of the visits are organised in conjunction with the regular ferries, others as a package with a mini-cruise.

Logo Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano

Ufficio Località Enfola n. 16
57037 Portoferraio (LI)
Isola d’Elba
Telefono: +39 0565 908231


Delfini nell'Arcipelago Toscano
With a bit of luck, you may spot small groups of dolphins during the boat trip – especially in the early or late season when there is less boat traffic.


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Videos on Giannutri Giannutri and the Archipelago

Weather Forecast Giglio and Giannutri

News about Giannutri Island​