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The small islands of the Mediterranean, especially the ones a few hours of navigation from the continent, have a great advantage and a great disadvantage: the former is that they are easily reachable. The disadvantage is that they are stormed by boats of all kinds of vacationers.

This is why spring and autumn months are ideal to go visiting these authentic havens: empty roadstead, ports at affordable prices, still mild climate. In other words, ideal, or almost.

One of the treasure chests of the Tyrrhenian Sea to which it is worth dedicating a short autumn cruise is undoubtedly Capraia. Nestled between mainland, Elba and Corsica, it is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and the third island by extension, with more than 19 square kilometres of surface and about three hundred permanent inhabitants.

It is a municipality in the province of Livorno and has only one asphalt road, less than a kilometre, connecting the only two handful of houses, both facing east, the harbour and the old village adjacent to the fort of San Giorgio, built in the sixteenth century by the Genoese.

Capraia is small but rich in history: the Romans first landed there, then was the scene of looting of Turkish and Saracen pirates and, to get to modern times, became the seat of an agricultural penal colony that remained open until the mid-eighties, in the northern part of the island.

The distances are all navigable in a few hours: the “finger” of Corsica is 15 miles west, the rocks of Elba are 17 miles south and the continent is at 27 nautical miles. Capraia is also one of the fundamental points for those who want to sail from the mainland to Sardinia within the 12-mile limit across the continent-Elba-Capraia-Corsica route.

Of volcanic origin, the island has the highest point in Mount Castello at 445 meters and is rich in flora with over 650 species. Mouflons, wild rabbits, Corsican seagulls, Marangoni with a tuft, but also peregrine falcons populate the island. Leaving the land for our beloved sea, the surrounding area is inserted in the Cetacean Sanctuary; also, the lucky ones can see the whales.

It is not only its wonderful flora and fauna that favour Capraia as the destination of an autumn cruise: at the end of October the traditional Festival of the Squid takes place. You can sees the village literally invaded by stands that propose the shellfish cooked in every possible declination: from lasagne to arancini, from cous cous to rice, to fried squid.

Those who want to participate must be aware of the strong influx of boats in those days, and do not hope to arrive at the port in the morning and finding a convenient mooring, despite having about three hundred seats and can accommodate boats up to 40 meters.

The port offers shelter from Leveche and Ostro. From May to September, at the entrance is set up a comfortable camp buoys; out of season, it is possible to anchor in the same bay. Alternatively, on the eastern and southern slopes there are several where to spend the night, starting from the famous Cala Del Ceppo, wonderful frame and sand bottom, but in case of reinforcements from the second quadrant do not offer shelter.

The seabed, among other things, swiftly descend, but with a little attention you can enjoy in total peace one of the most beautiful scenery of the Med

Stefano Sergi
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