Capraia: The Zenobito Circular Trail
This circular route, which allows you to explore the central-southern area of the island of Capraia, is one of the most fascinating and challenging itineraries in the Tuscan Archipelago, taking you to Punta dello Zenobito from Capraia village. Here rocks and sea challenge each other, lashed by the Mediterranean wind.
The initial part of the route is on an easy, partially surfaced road, then on an uneven dirt track. The descent from Monte Arpagna to the Zenobito plain is rather steep, on a slippery surface with outcrops of rock, and it is important to follow the trail closely (there are stone cairns to guide you). The return journey along path 401 has a few short stretches where you need to carefully follow the white/red markings and stone cairns.
The first objective is the “Semaforo” of Monte Arpagna, which is located in a panoramic position. This was a Navy lookout that was used until shortly after the Second World War to control the sea border with Corsica. The route follows a stony road that, after the fork for the lake, becomes less steep and runs alongside the Alloggio dei Marinai and the Casa del Capitano.
After a short while, a final climb will lead to the summit of Monte Arpagna with the navy lookout and, before the summit, the trail leading to the Zenobito, a path marked with no. 403, will also be visible.
The path soon begins to descend through the low scrub towards Punta dello Zenobito, recognisable after a few minutes’ walk, in the distance, by the presence of a tower built on the very tip of the island.
Vertical/horizontal white/red markings are less frequent in this section, so you need to keep an eye on the stone cairns to ensure you are following the trail. The descent requires commitment and concentration.
Once you reach the flat area of the ‘Piana dello Zenobito’, there are several small paths through the vegetation that allow you to explore the majestic and isolated Genovese fortress.
The walk back continues in the opposite direction for about 25 minutes until you reach the junction with path 401, which will take you to the starting point in 2 ½ hours.
Once on the Patello promontory, looking westwards we will see the flat area known as ‘Il Piano’, an ancient site of colonisation, where the small parish church of Santo Stefano Protomartire, surrounded by vineyards, still stands.
From the promontory you then continue to follow path no. 401, which creeps inland towards the Piano. Soon the path becomes flat and, at about 500 m from the junction for Cala del Ceppo, you will find the small Romanesque church of Santo Stefano Protomartire on your right, on a plateau slightly higher than the path.
After a few dozen metres, turn left onto a small downhill path. After about 65 metres, it turns right onto another dirt track. After about fifty metres (at the junction with path no. 405), the dirt track joins the dirt road marked as path no. 406, which leads to the village in half an hour’s walk.
From the summit of Monte Arpagna there is an incredible view of Capraia, nearby Elba and Corsica. On clear days, the Tuscan coast and the island of Montecristo can also be seen. The lookout was reached by Capraia's first telegraph line, which connected it via the lighthouse to the Island of Elba and then to Italy. The garrison stationed in the fortress was made up of soldiers from the Navy who were housed in two buildings along the way, the Alloggio dei Marinai (or Colombaie) and the Casa del Capitano.
The marvellous Torre dello Zenobito, built in the mid 16th century to defend the island from pirate raids, stands on an imposing rocky spur. On the right you can see Cala del Moreto, with its windswept cliffs, while on the left is the splendid Cala Rossa, so called because of its red rocks, which are striking against the green-blue sea.
Romanesque Church of Santo Stefano Protomartire
This small Romanesque building, dating from the 11th century AD, is surrounded by shady vegetation and offers a final break before the return to the village, which is now close by.
"La Salata" Capraia Park House
A starting point for exciting adventures to discover the island of Capraia and the Pelagos Sanctuary.