Gorgona Island



L'Isola di Gorgona è la più settentrionale tra quelle dell'Arcipelago Toscano, trovandosi a 36 Km da Livorno


Parco Nazionale dell’Arcipelago Toscanotel: 0565 919411email: parco@islepark.it

Gorgona is the smallest of the islands of the Archipelago, with a surface area of just 2.23 square kilometres, winding between the hills of the western side (225 m at Punta Gorgona) and the small valleys of the eastern side.

Gorgona was known in antiquity as Urgo, Gorgo and Orgòn, although this derivation has nothing to do with the Gorgons of Greek mythology: it is, in fact, a suffix of Sardinian derivation, dating from pre-Roman times. We also know that Islamic sailors in the 16th century used to call it the “Island of the Chestnut Trees” (Kestaneli Ada).
The oldest finds recovered on Gorgona, on the southern side of the island, date back to the Neolithic age, and it seems probable that the island was also used as a port of call in Etruscan times, given its strategic position within the trade routes. Evidence of the Roman period can be seen from the presence of imposing walls incorporated in modern buildings, but there is more information related to the late ancient period when, from at least the fifth century, the presence of monks was recorded (Rutilio Namaziano in 416 speaks of monastic communities in Gorgona). The monastery of Santa Maria and San Gorgonio was at the centre of many important events in the history of Christianity, such as the recovery of the remains of Santa Giulia after her martyrdom in Corsica in 450 or the visit of Santa Caterina da Siena. The fate of Gorgona followed that of the other islands in the archipelago, being subjected to pirate raids that led to its temporary abandonment in the 9th century, until it was noticed by Florence.

Various fortification programmes and the establishment of monastic communities followed, but they never became stable elements of the island. It was Pietro Leopoldo in the 18th century who promoted a programme to bring agricultural workers to Gorgona, and it was one of these families, the Citti, who built the village of Cala dello Scalo as the base for their main economic activity, fishing. From 1869, part of the island was used as a penal colony.