Most people haven’t heard of the Italian island of Montecristo. It may be the toughest place in the world to visit. Access to the beautiful volcanic island today is controlled by the Italian government, but you can apply for a day-visa. The Italian Government only gives out 1,000-day permits per year to visit and 600 of those spaces are reserved for students.
So where is this island?
The island located off the coast of France. Montecristo or “The Mount of Christ,” is a tiny island in the Tuscan Archipelago. It lies halfway between Corsica and the Italian peninsula. 10 years ago, Montecristo opened to tourists. Before that, access had been extremely limited.
When can I visit?
The island is now open to visitors twice a year from 1 April to 15 April and again 31 August to 31 October. As you can imagine, the demand to visit the island is extremely high.
Montecristo is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and home to a number of endangered species on the Montecristo Nature Reserve. There is a ban on fishing and swimming within 1 kilometre of the coastline to protect the biodiversity.
Montecristo is rich in treasures dating back thousands of years – The Etruscans, Greeks, Romans, Turks and the French have all occupied the island throughout its history.
Applications to visit Montecristo can only be found online. Be prepared however, as there is a waiting list for access. There is a limit of 1,000 visitors per year. The average waiting time for approval to visit is three years. Tours take place only on three existing trails, all of which are very challenging.
Visitors face a number of restrictions. They are not able to stay overnight. There is no swimming or surfing within a 1 kilometre of the coast. You are however able to cruise within 4.8 kilometres of the coast, but fishing is definitely banned. Access by sea is possible only at Cala Maestra (where the seabed is sandy) and with an approach course perpendicular to the coast; it is possible to dock at the pier or tie up against a buoy, but dropping an anchor is not allowed; there is also a small heliport for emergencies.
Today, the island has only two permanent human inhabitants, both of which are nature reserve keepers. Visitors with basic authorization must stay at Cala Maestra and can visit only the Royal Villa, the botanical garden and the museum.
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