This month, we're all about the Italians (see my gear pic below). I love Italy. Italian food. Italian football (soccer to some). The Italian countryside, opera, movies, culture, history, gelato, women and wine. And Italian islands. Italians have a wonderful lust for life, and this boot-shaped peninsula is wrapped in some of Europe's best diving. Some of the best diving in Italy can be found off the Tuscan Islands, off the west coast. The Tuscans (which include isolas Elba, Giglio, Pianosa, Capraia and Giannutri) are famous for their wrecks, crystal-clear water and cool collection of critters. I love to focus on the macro in this part of the world. The waters off these islands are rife with nudibranchs of all shapes, colors and sizes. I don't cover much ground on these searches, but each nudi found is like a bit of colored, photographic treasure. While on the nudi hunt, I almost always happen upon (completely by accident, as in oh, has that been by my elbow this whole time?) an octopus or two, bright yellow and furry stonefish, the medieval-looking yellow Mediterranean seahorse, and even torpedo rays lolling in the sand. When your eyes get tired from squinting in your macro search, the more than 2,000 years of human seagoing influence on these islands provides dozens of wrecks that date back to the Romans.
If you can't hit them all, cherry-pick your diving and start with the tiny half-moon-shaped island of Giannutri and the island of Giglio. Both offer great diversity and an off-the-beaten-path experience that includes everything from walled cities to empty beaches. Toast the end of the dive day with a limoncello while you reflect on all the reasons that the Med, and the wonderful diving off these Italian islands, is the true cradle of our sport of scuba diving.
Special thanks to Campese Diving Center www.cdc-giglio.de