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History of the Isola del Giglio

When the Tyrrhenian Venus emerged from the waves of the sea, seven gemstones fell from her tiara, and turned into the seven islands of the Tuscan archipelago: Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Gorgona, Pianosa, Giannutri and Montecristo.

From this, the ancient legend of the birth of the Tuscan archipelago, to science, Giglio emerged around 4 to 5 million years ago. Already inhabited in the Stone Age, and subsequently used by the Etruscans, possibly as a military outpost, Giglio went through one of its most important period under Roman rule, when the island became a commercial junction of maritime trade between the various Provinces. The importance of the island is highlighted by the recovery of numerous Roman shipwrecks as well as the several mentions in the literature of the time (Julius Caesar "De Bello Civili I" - Pliny "Historia Naturalis" - Antonius Augustus "Itinerarium Maritimum" and Rutilio Numaziano). The town of Giglio Porto houses the rests of a patrician villa, constructed by the Domizi Enobarbi family.

During the XVI century, Giglio suffered many pirate raids at the hands of the Saracens - the most terrible being the one of Khair ad-Din, better known as Barbarossa. The last of these raids occurred on November 18th (see yearly commemoration) 1799 and was to be the only Gigliese victory over the "Turks".

Since then the island saw a period of peace that favoured an economic recovery, boosted by an increased agricultural production, the exploitation of iron and hematite ores and by the renewed emphasis on stone quarries. Both mining and the extraction of granite were popular at the time of the Romans as testified by the many granite columns, from the Isola del Giglio, that can be found in many of Rome's churches and in various Italian basilicas. The closing down of the mines in 1962 triggered a new beginning for the island characterised by the current shift towards tourism.

The name Giglio derives from the Latin version of the Greek word for "goat", Aegilium: Goat Island.