The Island of Montecristo has been part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago since 1996. It is located in the municipality of Portoferraio.
Access to the island is limited and managed by the Forestry Corps of Follonica. From far away, the island looks like a huge granite ‘rock’ in the middle of the sea. It has a small chain of mountains with three major peaks: Fortezza Mount (645m), Cima del colle Fondo Mount (621m) and Coma dei Lecci mount (563m).
It is a sheer drop from the cliffs to the sea, and the only way of reaching the coast is from Cala Maestra, which is located at the end of a narrow and woody valley where the only building on the island is found.
This building is the former Villa Reale. In 1988, a protected area was established around the entire island, for an extension of some 1000 meters off the coastline. Visits are limited to 1000 people a year, and visitors are guided by Forestry officials along two routes.
The only person who lives on the island is its custodian, Goffredo, and his wife. In the summer months, there are two Forestry guards who live there also. It is difficult to translate into words the atmosphere and fascinating charm that envelopes this island. When visiting it, it almost seems unreal with silence dominating the small island.
The two tourist routes take visitors to the ruins of a convent dedicated to San Mamiliano, built by Benedictine monks in the 7th century (about one hour and ten minutes from Cala Maestra). This route continues to the Grotta del Santo (40 minutes from the monastery), a place of meditation.