The Archipelago islands in Tuscany Italy are mostly surrounded by rocky beds and this, together with the different depth that characterizes them, contributes to the richness and variety of the marine flora and fauna: limpets and barnacles encrust the rocks half-sunk in the sea, while a little lower the red beadlet anemones move slowly and close their tentacles with the incoming tide. Underwater, we find many algae with different and fascinating shapes such as the nori, the acetabularia, similar to a small umbrella, and the common brown algae that looks like a a woddy toadstool. The small crevices are painted by corals with pinkish and brown hues and by yellow, blue, purple and red sponges.
The elegant red gorgonias and the peculiar fan worms that look like brushes, float in the wavy waters while in shady spots, where it escaped the harvest, the precious red coral live. Octopuses, morays, crayfish and gropers find shelter in these rocks populated by sea urchins and anemones; colorful rainbow wrasses and ornate wrasses slip through the rocks as well as sea breams, snappers, sea basses and white sea breams. The small damselfish seem to spread an intense and surprising purple light.
The sandy bed is covered by posidonia, a seaweed that with its ribbon-shaped leaves forms wide underwater prairies inhabited by gold-lines. Myriads of tiny fish are often chased by slivery and hydrodynamic needlefish that moves quickly in small groups close to the surface. Until a few years ago, sea turtles used to lay their eggs on the beaches of some islands of the Archipelago and monk seals were swimming in their peaceful waters.
The Isle of Elba, one of Tuscany’s most well known islands, is characterized by a beautiful landscape surrounded by a 147 km coast rich in bays, cliffs and beaches. In Elba’s eastern part, dominated by the peak of Cima del Monte, we find the peninsula of Calamita where there are many types of schist whose origin dates back to more than 400 million years, and Jurassic marble, rocks whence we have been extracting haematite, magnetite and pyrite for centuries. Further north from Mount Calamita and in the central part of Elba, low and flat, we find instead ophiolites, limestone, sandstone and clay. The most recent rocks, of volcanic origin, from the western part of the island, where Mount Capanne, just over 1000 m high, is.
The Isle of Elba is mostly covered by Mediterranean shrubs that only rarely evolve into oak woods. In weathered areas, the maze of shrubs becomes low and sparse. That is when lavender, rosemary and helycrisum with their strong scents appear. In cooler areas, it is worth mentioning the presence of vast chestnut woods, with some huge specimen, of alders and yews. The beautiful cliffs are covered by juniper shrubs, blending with silver spots of Jupiter’s beard and Dusty Miller. Also thorny pears and agave, exotic species, have become an integral part of the landscape, as well as the highway iceplant, with its succulent leaves, whose wide purple flowers can be admired in summer along the coast of Maremma Tuscany.
The region is a paradise for diving and snorkeling, but also for walking, mountain biking, cycling and horse riding. Come to stay at the Hotel Prategiano, which enjoys a central position to discover all Tuscany.