I felt thrust back a century or two, perhaps into the setting of the Count of Monte Christo. Lounging in the majestic sitting room, in the stately old mansion that now houses Grotta Giusti Spa but was once the seat and residence of a family from the Italian gentry, I cannot help but ponder the history these walls must have seen. Outside I can see the Tuscan countryside, with its rolling hills and slender stone pines.
Like every grand tale of shipwreck and lost treasure, the story about the Polluce has it all. A paddlewheel steamboat shipwrecked in 1841, it is the centrepiece of a drama spanning more than one and a half centuries and has all the necessary ingredients: drama and tragedy, greed and crime, passion and politics. And it is still ongoing. Polluce is about to be excavated once more as this story goes to press.
Beautifully located on the coast of the Ligurian Sea, and just opposite Elba Island, we find the Italian port of Follonica, with its busy side streets, many small seafood restaurants and religious processions on holidays. Not much, if anything, gives away that this port town is also the hot spot for technical diving in Italy. Follonica is the home of Dive System, one of the new rising stars in dive manufacturing.