The Eremo di Santa Caterina, a small monastery in the north-east of the Island of Elba, has been for some years a retreat for writers, artists, scholars and scientists. Hans Georg Berger discovered the abandoned monastery in 1977, and lived there for some years before starting extensive restoration work which has led to the creation of a botanical garden dedicated to the spontaneous flora of the Tuscan arcipelago.

The Eremo and the garden in December 2006

This small botanical garden, developed by Gabriella Corsi and Fabio Garbari, two eminent researchers from the University of Pisa, during spring and summer, is open to visitors. The garden has been constructed after a design by the architects Roberto Gabetti, Aimaro Isola and Guido Drocco (Turin).

For some years, with the help of generous friends and institutions, Santa Caterina has presented theatre performances, concerts of contemporary and classical music, and art exhibitions always linked to the work of the artists and scholars staying at the Eremo. Traces of this work can be found in a publication, Quaderni di S. Caterina, published in five consecutive volumes between 1990 and 1996, available only at the bookshop of the botanical garden. Herv Guibert has been a frequent visitor to Santa Caterina. Most of his books have been written at Santa Caterina, and some of his most beautiful photographs were taken here.