"The treasure chest was divided into three compartments: in the first there were brilliant shields of gold with lusturs of yellow; in the second compartment there were unburnished rods of gold well clustered; in the third, half way full, Edmond withdrew a handfull of diamonds, pearls and rubies in shimmering cascades, and while falling resembled the sound of hail on window panes...."
The extraordinary treasure of the Spada Family, to whom Edmond Dantès, otherwise known as the Count of Montecristo, owes merit and for which Edmond brings to a formidable vengeance in the famous book of Alexandre Dumas. This was already an existing legend, tied to a treasure which the monks hid in the Grotta of San Mamiliano, before the distruction of the Montecristo Monastery by the hand of the Saracenics. Onehundredsixtyseven years have past since the last compilation of the French Author and yet Montecristo still remains a dream Island - the most solitary and wild of the Tuscan Arcipelago; it has always been uninhabited and has only two custodians that alternate a weekly calendar and only a few Forrest Wardens go by once in a while.
It is not allowed to swim in the area, to stay overnight, to boat by nor to fish within a thousand meters from its coast. In order to reach its coast you must ask for a permit from the Forrest Wardens at Follonica - the authorization includes access and a visit. If you only want to reach the island then you must stay at Cala Maestra, if you wish to visit, then the tour includes Villa Reale of the 1800's, the Botanic Garden and the Museum of Natural History. Often the wait to obtain the authorization is quite long. For the guided tours, the European Union has imposed an annual limit of 1000 visitors after having attributed to this place the European Diploma for the conservation of the environment. This choice was based on the requests received taking into consideration the Government Organisms, the Research and Cultural associations which aim at educating towards the respect of the environment. The tours go along the already existing three paths which are difficult to walk through due to their unlevelled surface, to the intense sun and lack of shade.
The Island of Montecristo, in ancient times was called Oglassa and is characterized by a rocky surface with a ripid coastline and is mostly represented by pink granite. The few buildings existent are in the area of Cala Maestra and were founded in the 19th Century at the time of the establishment of the Criminal Colony. Since it has always been free of inhabitants, it is an exquisite habitat for flora and fauna species of many varieties that once inhabited the entire Mediterranean. One of these is the gigantic arboreal Heather located at the lower level of the island and some splendid Holm Oaks of thousands of years at the higher plateaus; under the sea surface instead you can find prairies of Posidonia flora, marine anemones, and corals. There is a unique viper located only here called, in fact, the Montecristo Viper and the Sardinian Discoglossus located only in a couple of the Islands of the Tuscan archipelago as well as in Sardinia. Montecristo is also a place where thousands of migratory birds make their stop as well as important colonies of marine birds, wild goats and moon fishes.
According to some historians, Agatha Christie had decided to place one of her most famous stories here - Ten Little Indians - right in Montecristo .... In the end however, she decided for and anonymous island just off the English coastline, but those who have been to Montecristo swear that Montecristo is not less intriguing with reguards to mystery and uneasiness.