The Tinetto Island: much more than a cliff!

Stella Maris warns sailors of the rocks underwater - ph. Marcello Di Francesco

An ancient convent, a kind of lizard that lives only on its surface and a statue that saves seafarers: Tinetto island is small but infinitely rich

At the end of the archipelago of La Spezia, Tinetto is a small island separated from the bigger Tino island by no more than one hundred meters of sea, its surface area is so reduced that it is often referred to as just a rock. Yet this rock has such uniqueness – in natural and historical terms – it can be considered one of the most important places of the La Spezia Gulf.

The lizard of Tino Island: only 200 specimens in the world

One of the smallest – and exclusive – inhabitants of Tinetto island is called Podarcis muralis tinettoi (common wall lizard of Tinetto): a subspecies of the most common wall lizard that diversifies from the other one probably 9-8 thousand years ago. The world’s population of this kind of lizard is estimated by scholars in 200 units, living mainly on the Tinetto rock island and then Tino and Palmaria islands (even the colonies living on the side facing Palmaria island and Portovenere apparently have different behaviors from those on the side that faces the Tino island).

The monastery: the small church that gave life to the monastic settlement

Il Monastero del Tinetto - Ph. Parco di Portovenere
Monastery of Tinetto - Ph. Parco di Portovenere

If Tino is also famous for being the hermitage island of San Venerio, it was actually on the Tinetto island that the monastic settlement started, developing later fully on the sister island.

In the sixth century was built a small monastic settlement on the Tinetto island. On the southern side of the rock, covered by some vegetation, you can still see the remains of a small chapel in one room; on the flat part, however, are the remains of a church with two aisles which were connected to the oratory and the monks’ cells. When the Saracens destroyed the structure, the monastery moved on Tino island.


The Stella Maris: a notice to sailors to avoid the dangerous Scogio do Diao

In front of Tino Island, a discreet and elegant presence rises from the water: it is the Stella Maris, a statue of the Virgin Mary with folded hands towards the open sea.
Is it just a sign of the spiritual importance of the islands given the presence of the monasteries? If this is something that can count, it should be noted that the main function of the statue is to signal to mariners a dangerous dry: O Scogio do Diao (the Devil’s rock in local language). It is on this rock that rests the base of the statue.

The photos of Stella Maris on the cover is by Marcello Di Francesco

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