Off the coast of Albenga in the Riviera di Ponente, there is a real natural oasis surrounded by the blue waters of the Ligurian Sea.
A turtle emerging from the sea while swimming slowly. That is what it seems to see from the Ligurian coast near Albenga: it is the Gallinara island, which due to its particular shape is known as the “turtle island”.
Gallinara, the turtle island
Gallinara is the only island in Liguria and its name comes from the wild hens that once populated the island. According to other sources, the name would recall Gaul, the ancient region of France, since the island represented a stage of passage travelling to that territory.
Today Gallinara is a small uninhabited island where nature reigns supreme and the typical vegetation of the Mediterranean scrub grows luxuriantly: since 1989 it is a regional natural park and here there is an important nesting colony of the herring gull.
The island became a safe shelter for saints and popes, a perfect oasis of peace and tranquility in close contact with nature. The only signs of human presence are a monastery built by Benedictine monks, a tower, a church and a small landing place.
The island hides another wonderful surprise, this time submerged: an incredible wealth of underwater flora and fauna. It is possible to discover it by scuba diving, which must however be carried out accompanied by specialized guides, due to the presence of unexploded war devices on the seabed.
Priceless natural heritage, the "turtle island" will continue to enchant with its charm.
by Rita Pistore
24 September 2020