Palmaria (island)

Palmaria is an Italian island situated in the Ligurian Sea, at the westernmost end of the Gulf of La Spezia. Measuring 1.6 square kilometres (0.6 sq mi), it is the largest island of an archipelago of three closely spaced islands jutting out south from the mainland at Portovenere. The other islands, Tino, and the tiny Tinetto lie further south.

Native name:
Isola Palmaria
Titti and Piscinin.JPG
The Blue Cave
Palmaria is located in Italy
LocationLigurian Sea
Total islands1
Major islandsPalmaria, Bergeggi, Gallinara, Tino and Tinetto
ProvinceLa Spezia
Official namePortovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)
Criteriaii, iv, v
Designated1997 (21st session)
Reference no.826
State PartyItaly
RegionEurope and North America

In 1997, the archipelago, together with Portovenere and the Cinque Terre, was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


The marble caves

The Palmaria island with a surface area of 1.89 square kilometres (0.73 sq mi), is the largest of three islands in the Gulf of La Spezia and the Liguria region of the whole, the other two islands, Tino and Tinetto meet down a few hundred meters straight line to the south.

The island has a triangular shape: the sides that face Portovenere and the Gulf of La Spezia are the most humanized and slope gently down to the level of the sea, covered by typical Mediterranean vegetation, the side that faces west, i.e. towards the open sea, is instead characterized by high cliffs overhanging the water, in which there are many caves. The sides humanized see the presence of some private homes, a restaurant (in Pozzale) and especially bathing establishments, both public and confidential employees of the Navy and Air Force.

As for the western side, the most difficult to reach, are worthy of note the Blue Cave, visited by boat, and the Cave of Pigeons, which can be reached only by climbing down ropes. The latter in particular has been very important in the study of historical events in the Gulf, as have been found inside the fossilized bones of Pleistocene animals such as chamois and the snowy owl, but above all remains of human burials, testifying the presence of man at least five thousand years ago.

On the island there are also many buildings of a military character and of great historical interest: the top, inaccessible as a former military area and is currently in a state of neglect, the Fort Count of Cavour (or Fort Palmaria), the battery now used as experimental environmental education center and Batteria Semaforo near the Scola Tip, the tower ironclad Umberto I and used in World War II to a military prison and renovated a few years ago and the remains of the battery Albini, scattered throughout the island, several bunkers from the Second World War and the remains of coastal artillery and antiaircraft mostly inaccessible since abandoned and submerged vegetation.

Portoro marbleEdit

Remarkable is the presence (in the south, called Pozzale) of an abandoned quarry, once used for the extraction of the precious black marble with streaks of gold called portoro. There are still remnants of cranes and hoists used for moving the blocks of marble and the walls of the houses of the miners.[1]

Natural habitatEdit


The flora of Palmaria is composed of about 500 species. The original vegetation, which must have consisted mainly of Mediterranean scrub and oak wood forest, was modified by anthropic causes such as fire, agriculture, introduction of alien plants and animals (plane trees, palms and rabbits).

Today the pines (Pinus pinaster and Pinus halepensis) share space with typical Mediterranean species such as holly oak (Quercus ilex), downy oak (Quercus pubescens), mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), rockrose (Cistus monspeliensis, Cistus salvifolius, Cistus incanus), Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), etc.

Other important plant groups include spurge (Euphorbia dendroides) and nearest to the sea cliffs on those characterized by samphire (Crithmum maritimum). Among the new flora, Centaurea cineraria veneris, Iberis umbellata var. linifolia, exclusive in Palmaria, Centaurea aplolepa lunensis, endemic to eastern Liguria. Finally, also worth Brassica oleracea robertiana, Serapias neglecta and Cistus incanus, rare in Liguria, where it reaches its northern limit.


Islands of Palmaria and Tino

On the island, there exists a large quantity of reptilian species, such as the European leaf-toed gecko (Phyllodactylus europaeus), the smallest of the European geckos. While present on the neighboring islands of Tino and Tinetto, this species is rare in Liguria.

Bird species found on the island include the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), red partridge (Alectoris rufa), gulls (Larus argentatus, Larus michahellis), raven (Corvus corax), rock thrushes (Monticola solitarius), and cormorant (Gulosus aristotelis).

Several species of bats are found in caves on Palmaria: the trunnion (Plecotus auritus), greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), and lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros).

Colonies of rabbits and goats on the island are remains of a recent past when the island was more inhabited by humans.

The beetle Parmenas solieri is an endemic species linked to spurge patches found on the island.

Climate and maritime linksEdit

The climate is typically Mediterranean, temperate on both daily and seasonal timescales.

In winter, there are very few episodes of extreme cold or frost, while in summer the heat is moderated by the effect of the sea breeze. The abundant rainfall follows the trends of the Riviera di Levante, especially heavy in autumn and spring.

For the maritime links, is possible reach the island by private boat or, in the summer months, with ferries that connect to Portovenere, Lerici, and La Spezia.

See alsoEdit



Coordinates: 44°02′34.21″N 9°50′37.92″E / 44.0428361°N 9.8438667°E / 44.0428361; 9.8438667