Isola di Giannutri, “Fuori dal Mondo”
Fuori dal mondo – “out of this world” – is what you feel as you step off the ferry onto this tiny Mediterranean island. The turquoise/emerald water of the island coves is certainly “out of this world” but you are “out of this world” touching down on this island with 180 houses (hidden away – we only saw about six in our three days here), fewer than twenty permanent residents, only one small piazza with a single restaurant-bar (mostly empty), one meagerly-stocked grocery (never did find it open) and only dirt paths leading to the two or three coves of chrystalline water.
At a fork in the footpaths, the only three signs on the island indicate the swimmable coves and the warning that no one may verge off the footpaths from early May until late October unless accompanied by an authorized naturalist guide.Severe regulations preserve the splendind beauty of Giannutri, Parco Nazionale dell’Archipelago Toscano, island once a summer retreat for the Roman patrician family Domizi (Nero’s wife, Agrippina, was a Domizi). Three intricately-sculpted Corinthian capitals, piles of marble once lining the vast baths, long stretches of walls, majestic flights of steps and pavements in opus spicatum (herring-bone pattern) are fragemented testament today to the second-century glory of Villa Domizia.
On summer mornings, a ferry arrives from Porto Santo Stefano, departing in the afternoon, witn an extra summertime afternoon “run” on Friday for weekend vacationers headed to their Giannutri havens. When Pino and I came for a visit at the home of Roman friends, we asked what we could bring: melons and water. Marina and Angelo met us at the port and we all hauled the eighteen litres of water we’d brought up the dirt path to their house, a tukul plastered in the characteristic rosa antica pink. The tukul – typical house of the center of the island – is a small circular house (maybe so that windows all around can draw in the sea breezes , coming from any drection?), once with a simple thatched roof: until a roof caught fire in the 1970’s. Now the tukul roofs are tiled.The Giannutri daily routine is simple: leisurely breakfast on the terrace looking out over the water towards Giglio (you can see the carcas of the Costa cruise ship laying in the water, like a huge beached white whale), swims, lunch on the terrace (same view – different light), read and/or write, doze or sleep, head to the cove for late swims, back to the house to read/write or chat, aperitif, leisurely dinner as the sun sets over the sea (same view, different light). Only Angelo’s routine might alter a bit: up early to fish and then time to clean and cook the fish for our lunch on the terrace (same view).
Giannutri is not another Capri and has nothing in common with even the lesser-known Mediterreanen islands such as Ischia, Procida, Ponza or Ventotene. If you’re looking for seafood restaurants on the port, outdoor cafe’s, boutiques, and animated nocturnal piazza life, head for one of those.
On Giannutri, the only disturbing sounds are seabreeze whispers, seagull squawks, the cicadas’ buzz. Those sounds and turquoise-emerald waters are the island’s only offerings.
After all, Giannutri is fuori dal mondo.
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