cala maestra giannutri

Cala Maestra

Rocky cove
Archaeological site
Suitable for children

In the central part of Giannutri, on the opposite side of Cala Spalmatoio, opens the beautiful Cala Maestra, that gets its name from the mistral (“maestro” or “maestrale” in Italian language) that blows from northwest, direction towards which the narrow cove is oriented. Right next to the north of the cove is the second dock on the island, a port used by ferryboats coming from Il Giglio or by those arriving from Porto Santo Stefano (when the mooring at Cala Spalmatoio is made difficult by sea conditions). The beach is made up of small pebbles and is easily approachable via a large staircase leading to the dirt road that cuts the island into two parts, connecting the two main coves (distant about 600 meters).

The seabed, perfectly visible thanks to the absolute transparency of the water, features a prairie of oceanic posidonia which hosts a rich fish and crustacean fauna. For a comfortable bath you can also use the ladder walled on the northern edge of the cove, where concrete quays were built for those who want to lie down and enjoy a sunbath. In front of the cove stands the silhouette of Il Giglio, about 15 km far. The position of Cala Maestra allows you to enjoy extraordinary sunsets on the sea with the backdrop of the Giglio Island. A restaurant (“La Taverna del Granduca”) was located upstream from the cove but it’s now no longer active.

Archaeology notes

As in Cala Spalmatoio, Cala Maestra presents remarkable remains of the transformations made by the Romans to adapt the cove to their needs: at the bottom of the cove, behind the gravel beach, the rocky cliff was deeply engraved to get a boatshed to put boats dry (still used for this purpose) and for maintenance operations on them: rock cutting has been reinforced by building thick walls around in opus mixtum (bricks and blocks of tufa), in the middle of the second century AD. Unlike the smaller boatshed in Cala Spalmatoio, this structure seems to be designed to accommodate medium-sized vessels, presumably the boats of the owners of the Roman villa not far away, removed from the water to prevent them from being damaged by sudden storms. At the bottom there is also a curious niche that is spared in the wall, the purpose of which is unknown (it can be assumed that it was located at a point where rainwater infiltrated the rocks behind, the accumulation of which could have been a danger to the wall itself). The connection to the above countryside was ensured by a ramp located in the same position as the modern staircase, at the base of which a pillar was repositioned and topped by a corinthian marble capitol. On the southern side of Cala Maestra there is a mysterious truncated pyramid structure characterized by a pair of large quadrangular slits on the forehead: the function is debated between those who think of a tomb or a lantern (Cavazzuti) and those who have seen in it the support for a wooden cargo loading and unloading machine (Shepherd), a hypothesis most likely due to the existence, a few meters away inland and hidden in the vegetation, of a Roman fish farm; the wall of the cove at this point seems perfectly vertical, certainly by man. It can be assumed that to facilitate the loading and unloading of goods in the narrow cove, part of the cliff was modeled to allow the boats to approach without danger; the transhipment took place using a winch, part of a wooden machine anchored to the truncated pyramid structure that acted as its platform, thus allowing easy disembarkation of supplies for the inhabitants of the island (that came from Igilium or mainland) and equally easy embarking of the labor products of the islanders. On the opposite side of the cave stand the remains of an exedra in opus mixtum made for decorative purposes and possibly originally containing a statue, alongside the crumbling structures of an establishment built in the 1960s for the island’s tourist exploitation. The modern quay in front of the exedra represents the rebuilding of a small private pier, certainly used by the owners of the Roman villa and their guests.

From Cala Spalmatoio you climb up the Roman road to the sports ground in Ischiaiola; from here you continue along the main avenue along the heliport and begin to descend to the other side of the island until you reach the cove.
From Cala Spalmatoio: 20 minuti.
Dock: ferryboat from Isola del Giglio.
Taxi boat on request.
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