The Tuscan Archipelago

Located to the south of Pisa, at the northern mouth of the Tyrrhenian sea, these islands guard passage southwards from the Ligurian Sea between the mainland and Corsica. Sparsely inhabited except for seabirds and occasional wild goats, these rocky islets are a source of contention between the rival communes of Genoa and Pisa.

Tuscan Archipelago (Wikimedia Commons)

Elba

Since the eleventh century Elba has been in the possession of Pisa, allowing the republic to dominate the remaining smaller islands of the archipelago and extract valuable iron ore from its numerous mines. The region was in fact so productive in ancient times that the Greeks referred to it as Aethalia in reference to the fumes from its many ore smelting furnances. Although densely settled by comparison to the other Tuscan islands, its wilder reaches are sufficiently large enough that wild boar and mouflon goats are still commonly encountered.

Montecristo

A mountainous rock covered in oak forests containing some trees over a thousand years old, this island is still used as a source of granite and wood by nearby Pisa. The Abbey of St Mamillian, named after a former hermit that dwelt on the island in a cave, has recently converted to the comparatively new Camaldolese branch of the Benedictine Order. The saint’s original cave is rumoured to contain a great treasure, although to all mundane appearances seems to be just an ordinary subterranean chapel with  Dominion aura of 3.

Large black rats infest the island except for the area immediately near the abbey. Seemingly at war with the local seabirds, the population of rodents waxes and wanes with the seasons, reflecting their fortune in battle against their avian foes. The two forces are Faerie in nature and led by two diminutive, but nonetheless powerful, Faerie princes: the Lord of the Briny Spray and the Gnawing Duke.

The island’s peak of Mons Jovis, responsible for its name of Montegiove in late Roman times, lies within a strength 4 Magic aura that leads to a small level 5 Magic regio containing an intact temple to Jupiter Optimus Maximus accessible only during lightning storms. Performing a blood sacrifice at the temple is one of the less well kept secrets of mystery initiation performed by aspirants of the Cult of Mercury.

Other Islands of the Tuscan Archipelago

The other Tuscan islands are listed here in order of size:

Capraia

Largest of the remaining islands and closest to Corsica, this volcanic island once known as Aegyllon is famous for its anchovy fishing. Formerly a base for Saracen pirates and now controlled by Pisa, the main village of Porto contains several churches, including one dedicated to St Stephen founded over a fourth century coenobium. As a result of this clustering of places of worship the whole island lies within a Dominion aura of 3.

Giglio

This granite island, once the source of much of the stone that decorated rome, is almost completely covered with pine forests. Once famous as Aegilium or Iglium in Roman times, a well-preserved villa once belonging to the Ahenobarbus family lies on the outskirts of the small northern fishing port. Scattered vineyards now produce the famous local ansonaco wine. A ruined Temple of Diana with a weak Faerie aura of 2 is sometimes used by the Huntress in the Wood Mystery Cult for low level initiation ceremonies (see Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults, pages 33-35).

Pianosa

This uninhabited island is currently a point of dispute between Genoa and Pisa although it offers little other than strategic value. Known in Roman times as Planasia, it was once the site of exile for the Emperor Augustus’ grandson and ex-heir, Agrippa Posthumos, until his death by execution. A small Roman theatre and underlying catacombs retain a Magic aura of 2 but no vis source worth claiming or harvesting has been discovered to date.

Gorgona

This tiny northernmost island contains only a tiny fishing village and a small Bendictine abbey refounded in the eleventh century but now in a state of decline. Although nominally under Papal protection, a watchtower built by the Republic of Pisa controls the approach to the uninhabited west coast and acts as a base to defend against Genoese privateers and Moorish pirates.

Giannutri

Southernmost of the archipelago, this rocky island was known as Dianum to the Romans and Artemisia to the Greeks. The ruins of a small Roman villa are the only signs of past human habitation. At the Troupe’s option, this islet may contain the abandoned home of Fortunata, the theurgical archmaga from Legends of Hermes. Alternatively, it may be another important cultic site and meeting place of the infamous Huntress in the Wood Mystery Cult (see Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults, pages 33-35).

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