by Maria E. Bellini
Capraia Island, Livorno – Tuscany
ABOUT THE AREA:
Capraia island, is the third largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago. But don’t be fooled, it’s small! At just over 19 squared km, with only one really short road, it makes a great place for walking and running.
The highest point in hilly Capraia is Monte Castello at a moderate 445m. The western side of the island offers impressive cliffs and gorges that dive steeply into the sea, quite different to the eastern side, which by contrast has gentler terrain. You can also read our full Capraia Destination article.
The island is a treasure of trails and routes, which are well mapped and way marked. However, as vegetation is the knee height Mediterranean scrub, and there is no water on the trails, it’s advisable to avoid the hotter summer months for walking or running. Or if that is what specifically challenges you, you must plan accordingly for the extreme conditions.
In the clip – Universo Action Travelling_Trekking Capraia – a short video that follows our suggested route. As you will see it really is wild!
THE TRAIL ROUTE:
We’re proposing one of the classic Capraia walking route: Capraia Village – Lo Stagnone > Monte Penne > Monte Castello > Ex Penal Colony Area > Caparaia Village
Moderate – Weather conditions can vary. Heat and sun can be strong. Be prepared. Depends again on own fitness level & climate.
13//15km – distance varies from different sources
Elevation 530m D+
Start at 52 mt. Capraia Village
Max alt: Monte delle Penne a 420m
Arrive at: 52 mt. Capraia Village
As you leave the village, you’ll be walking (or running!) on dark rugged paths and ancient mule tracks surrounded by the fresh herby aroma of knee high Maquis shrubland to your sides.
If you hit the trail in the spring you’ll be rewarded by the vision of Lake Stagnone (318mt) decorated by the picturesque scattering of the small flowers – White Water Crowfoot which adorn the surface of the Lake. The sense of peace is heightened by the aroma of mint (Menta Romana) which grows along the shores. The Lago Stagnone, is the only natural lake in the Tuscan Archipelago and in summer months can dry up.
A short walk follows – uphill towards Mount Penne, the highest point of the whole island at just over 420mt. On a clear day, you’ll be rewarded by fantastic views across the island, and – possibly be able see the islands of Elba and Corsica too.
Route then takes you downhill towards the area that was the ex penal colony. Abandoned, somewhat melancholic buidlings still standing. Testimony to the daily, working life that was once imprisonment. The wash houses, the sheep pen, the refectory, and then the guards quarters and the goal. Silence prevails.
Finally our proposed classic Capraia Trail route then continues downhill with the view opening up, onto the cheery village and harbour.
Here’s a link to the Tuscan hiking associtation Gruppo Ambiente Trekking Le Torri who decribe the route, with photos and a map.
WHEN TO GO:
All year round really, but best from March to July then September to October. We strongly advise taking water with you on your walks/runs, sun protection, and a hat.
REASONS TO WALK/RUN IT:
Capraia is known as “The Wild one”, and in many ways it is, in a compact sense. A quiet, humble, unpretentious island. Come here to really get back to nature on a low key level.
Toremar ferries go daily from the Mediceo Port in Livorno to Capraia. Ferry takes 2 hours and 45 minutes. You can also leave your car in Livorno. There isn’t much point bringing it onto the island as there is only one tarmac road which is just over 500metres long.
As Capraia is small, you will probably be best off planning ahead. Visitor capacity is slim.
TRAIL & ROAD RACES NEARBY:
Capraia Rock Trail – March
Long route: 24km 1400m D+
Short route: 14km 400m D+
Capraia Route Map – a PDF file from the Hotel Saracino website.
Proloco Capraia website is in Italian
This non-profit Association organizes events, and offers tourist information, maps of paths, and photographs.
Find them on the Island – here:
Proloco Capraia Isola
Via Assunzione,72 Telephone: +39 0586 905138
Maria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.