Famous for its starring role in Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, the island of Montecristo has only been open to the public for 10 years, but demand is so high that the Italian government is forced to impose some strict limitations to preserve its unique biodiversity. It can only be visited twice a year — from April 1st to the 15th, and then from August 31st to October 31st — with only 1,000 day permits issued per year, 600 of which are reserved for students.
In the novel, the island serves as the location of a great treasure, which Edmond Dantès uses to transform himself from a wrongly-imprisoned sailor into the wealthy, enigmatic Count of Monte Cristo. Tourists should not expect to find treasure there, but they will find it home to rare wildlife, including wild goats and even some endangered seabirds. Since the Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans all occupied the island, there are also ruins and archaeological sites dating back thousands of years.
Aurora Ciardelli, spokeswoman for the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, told The Local, “The island is not served by scheduled ferries and therefore those who get authorization to visit must independently find a boat suitable to cover the approximately 40 nautical miles from the mainland.”
To follow in the footsteps of Edmond Dantès, submit your application by January 31st of each year and be patient because it could take years to get a response. In the meantime, you’ll have to take to heart the advice Abbé Faria gave to Dantès in the prison on the Château d’If: “wait and hope.” And remember, it took Dantès 21 years to get there.