Montecristo Island Nature Reserve

A small island full of history

A small island full of history: Etruscans, Greeks, Romans, hermits, prisoners inhabitated this island for more than 3000 years before to become a nature reserve.

Weird Italy toscana Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut   The history of the island begins with the Iron Age. The Etruscans exploited the forests of oak needed to fuel the bloomeries of the mainland where the iron ore of Elba’s mines was melted.

The Greeks gave Montecristo its oldest known name, Oglasa or Ocrasia, after the yellowish colour of the rocks.

The Romans, however, knew it under the name Mons Jovis, and erected an altar to Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, of which some traces remain, on the highest mountain.

During the imperial age the Romans opened some quarries to extract granite, perhaps used in the construction of villas on the islands of Giglio, Elba and Giannutri.[Wikipedia]

Around the middle of the fifth century AD the caves of the island became home to several hermits escaping from the Vandals of Genseric, the most important of whom was St. Mamilian.

They christened the island “Mons Christi”, from which the modern name is derived. At the beginning of the seventh century Pope Gregory the Great submitted them to the monastic rule of the Benedictines. In this period the Monastery of St. Mamilian was founded; as a result of donations to the Church its wealth became legendary, and a chapel was built in the St. Mamiliano Cave where the saint had lived in the fifth century.

In 1216 the monks joined the order of the Camaldolese. Thanks to the donations of several noble families, the monastery became powerful and rich, and this gave rise to the legend of treasure hidden on the island. Once a possession of Pisa, the island was later acquired by the Principality of Piombino.

In 1553, Ottoman pirate Dragut, heading for Elba, stormed the monastery, enslaved the monks and decreed its end. After that, the island was uninhabited. In the second half of the sixteenth century, together with most of the Tuscan Archipelago, it became part of the Stato dei Presidi, a client Spanish state.[Wikipedia]

Weird Italy Montecristo-2 Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Annexed to the French Empire under Napoleon, after his fall the island became the possession of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The first attempts to colonise Monte Cristo, at the time owned by Charles Cambiagi, were made in 1840 by two German hermits, Augustin Eulhardt and Joseph Keim, who eventually abandoned the attempt. In 1843 other people arrived with the intention of cultivating the island: the young Tyrolean Adolph Franz Obermüller, and after a few months, the Frenchman Charles Legrand and his girlfriend. Also during 1843, there were other attempts of colonisation by the French agriculturalist George Guiboud, which ended with yet another failure.

In 1846 some Genoese made a similar effort, while in 1849 the Frenchman Jacques Abrial was able to farm the island for three years. In 1852 a rich Englishman, George Watson-Taylor, bought Monte Cristo and transformed Cala Maestra into a garden, planting eucalyptus and many exotic plants, among them the Asiatic Ailanthus altissima, an invasive species which now infests the island.

The few modern buildings of Monte Cristo, such as the Royal Villa, date from this period. The island was then purchased by the Italian Government on 3 June 1869 for the sum of £100,000. Montecristo had previously been plundered in 1860 by Italian exiles living in London, who had come to Italy to join up with the Camicie rosse, but were shipwrecked on the island. Faced with the huge sum of money claimed by the owner to repair the damage, the government thought it better to buy the island, which was still uninhabited.[Wikipedia]

Weird Italy Montecristo-cala-maestra Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Cala Maestra

After other attempts at colonisation in 1878, the Italian government founded a penal colony there, a branch of that in Pianosa. In 1889 Monte Cristo was given to Marquess Carlo Ginori, who restored the Villa and transformed the island into a hunting ground. In 1896, Monte Cristo was the honeymoon destination of Victor Emmanuel III of Savoy (at that time crown prince) and Elena of Montenegro, and after 1899 it became a royal hunting ground for Victor Emmanuel’s exclusive use. During the Second World War the island, important because of its position between Italy and occupied Corsica, was garrisoned by the Italian army. After several episodes of vandalism and speculation attempts, the nature reserve was established in 1971.
In December 2011 it was reported that black rats, present on the island at least since Roman times, have greatly increased in numbers and pose a serious threat to the birds of Monte Cristo. Due to the inaccessibility of the terrain, the island was bombed from the air with poison pellets, as had recently been attempted on Giannutri and Sardinia, despite concerns raised by environmental groups that indigenous species of wildlife and the surrounding waters might also be adversely affected. The Ailanthus trees were also to be eradicated.[Wikipedia]

Weird Italy Montecristo Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Weird Italy montecristo-fortress Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Montecristo fortress

The conditions that restricted the establishment of human settlements on Montecristo have favoured the preservation of its flora and fauna. Animals and plants once found throughout the Mediterranean still live on the island. Of particular interest are the giant heather formations covering the valley floors and several thousand-year-old oaks that manage to survive at the highest altitudes. Also interesting are the Montecristo viper (Vipera aspis hugyi, a subspecies also present in southern Italy, and today considered introduced by humans) and Discoglossus sardus, an amphibian found only in a couple of islands in Tuscany and Sardinia.[Wikipedia]

Weird Italy montecristo-goat Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Weird Italy Monastero_di_Montecristo Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Montecristo monastery

Text: Wikipedia, Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join Weird Italy, Guide to Places and People in Italy

Weird Italy 35d34cee42cbb06848a4b6ac844a4ae7?s=116&d=mm&r=g Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut
WeirdItaly
Lifestyle weblog about everything that happens in Italy: photography, places, people, fashion, Italian movies and books, news and much more
28FansLike
1,163FollowersFollow
274SubscribersSubscribe
Weird Italy majella-nature-reserve Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Biggest wildlife sanctuary in Italy: Majella National Park

Maiella (or Majella) National Park (Chieti, L'Aquila, Abruzzo) is a mountain nature reserve centered around the Maiella calcareous massif. Highest peak is Monte Amaro (2,793...
Weird Italy Femina-Accabadora-movie-324x160 Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Sa Femina Accabadora, The Lady of the Good Death

Sa Femmina Accabadora was a woman who was in charge of bringing death to people of any age, in the event that they were...
Weird Italy Tuscany Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Florence wine tours

Being the capital of one of the most famous wine regions in the world, Florence is not just a great starting point for the...
Weird Italy damanhur Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

World’s largest underground temple: The Temple of Humankind of the Federation...

During August 1978, 100ft down and hidden from public view, the people of Damanhur started to dig secretly the first of the Temples of...
Weird Italy santa-maria-di-pulsano-title Montecristo Island Nature Reserve Magazine Nature in Italy What to see in Italy  Tyrrhenian Sea tuscany tirreno sea seaside oglasa ocrasia montecristo island mons jovis mediterranean sea island Dragut

Abbey of Santa Maria of Pulsano

The Abbazia di Santa Maria di Pulsano is a Catholic sanctuary on Mount Gargano, Italy, Monte Sant'Angelo, Foggia. The abbey was built in 591 on...

Stefano Boeri Architetti, Metrogramma Milano and Inside Outside win the competition for the Parco...

“A Red Steel Circle. A ring that embraces - passing under the new bridge - an area made of iron, water, cement and asphalt. The...

The mesmerizing work of Franco Grignani

Franco Grignani (Pieve Porto Morone, 4 February 1908 - Milan, 20 February 1999) was an Italian graphic artist and artist. He founded Studio Grignani in...

The sporting culture behind the Italian game

Sport is a strange thing; it ignites a raw passion in the tamest person, it creates rivalries between people who would otherwise get along...

12 leaders of Juventus ultras groups arrested for blackmailing Juventus to get free tickets...

12 leaders of Juventus ultras groups were arrested during an investigation of the Digos ( General Investigations and Special Operations Division) of Turin. On September...

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close