We leave behind La Maddalena, as well. An incredible archipelago ruled, maybe more than any other place in the Mediterranean, by the wind, which from either side channels into the Bonifacio Strait and shapes places and people.
It’s a land which attracts many interests, then, sometimes sadly with a colonization-like approach only oriented to business and tourism. Therefore it’s a land where bold choices need be done, because the anthropic pressure is huge despite the small available space between and on the islands. It’s not an hazard that this is the first island where I’m asked to pay for. Maribelle’s mooring (well, I paid in the previous one, Capraia, too, but the context was very different).
I met a special, unforgettable guy, though. His name is Antonello Tovo, a natural born skipper from here who funded an association called Acque Libere (Free Waters). There, handicapped – but not only – people learn to sail autonomously. At the same time they are thought a different message, one of slowness, of community, one that comes and belongs to an island which always was an island of sailors, of pirates too, people who owned their own destiny, their own islands, their own identity.
After Capraia, where I’m stuck by nice westerlies, the next island in my plan was Pianosa. A critical island, which has been inhabited for decades only by the inmates of the Porto Azzurro (Island of Elba) penitentiary plus a few guards, and by Giulia Manca who manages the only hotel whose employees are the inmates themselves.
Pianosa is at a fundamental historic moment: the transition between being an island-prison and a possible huge touristic attraction with its splendid sea protected by a marine reserve, some very important Roman remains (great catacombs in particular), and a fascinating land.
I felt the urge to relate about Pianosa perhaps more than for other islands, because the future is being written right now, whereas for the others the important decisions were taken a few decades ago with the beginning of mass tourism in the sixties.
Now, in Pianosa mooring is banned by the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano (Tuscan Archipelago National Park), because of the marine reserve and for the presence of the inmates, I suppose. One can only reach it from the Elba Island with a private boat allowed to do it. However, mooring permission is not infrequently issued for scientific and / or sociological reasons – at least that is what they official say.
I had therefore officially asked my beloved Tuscan Archipelago National Park for this permit months ago, explaining that my boat does not pollute – it’s a sailboat with an electric engine – and that any inmate who wished to steal Maribelle would not have gone far. My reasons were sociological, clearly, because I was visiting all the italian minor islands with my solo sailing trip and I thought it was essential to relate the situation in Pianosa for the reasons mentioned above.
But since in this country you have to lick asses to get something, my friends from the National Park refused my pledge with few, ridiculous words. Thank you, Tuscan Archipelago National Park, you might have lost – or wished to – an opportunity to talk about Pianosa’s critical transition, which attracts so many wealthy interests…
Conclusion: I have to find myself another 33rd island!