ISOLA D’ELBA: A LITTLE PARADISE IN THE SEA OF TUSCANY, ITALY
January 1, 1970
by Simona Capitani
A GEM OF THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA
Only 10 kilometers from the west coast of Italy there is one of my favorite place in Tuscany: Isola d’Elba. An Island in the mediterranean sea with gorgeous beaches and folkloristic villages with night markets, live music and good restaurants. I will show you beach by beach how you could visit this paradise all around the coast.
When I was a child I used to spend my vacation here with my dad traveling with a van and biking to discover the “hidden” coves. Now I will give you all my knowledge about it.
HOW TO GET THERE
With a ferry from Piombino.
It takes between 30min to 1 hour to reach the Island, shorter ferries usually are more expensive, there are two main companies, you can check on internet or get the ticket directly to the port. During the peak season is always better to book in advance.
The cheapest way is to Rio Marina, but probably the best place to arrive is Portoferraio. If you have a car it is really easy to travel, otherwise you can rent it and start your trip.
VISIT THE VILLAGES
All of theme deserve a visit, all of them have different characteristic, and probably, with all of them, you will fall in love
PORTOFERRAIO the main city of the Island, you will have an idea of his conformation already from the ferry. While you are here you can visit Villa in San Martino, Napoleon’s summer residence, about 5 km from Portoferraio city.
Fort Stella, in the old part of the town, with a star shaped and a lighthouse, stands on the second hill that looks over Portoferraio. Entrance fee is only 2€
Do a hike to the Medicean ramparts and Fort Falcone and enjoy the beautiful view on the gulf surrounded by hundreds of years of history.
Walk in the old town and drink a cocktail in one of the bars on the little port.
MARCIANA MARINA Seaside village with a large red pebble beach, you can stop here and have a lunch after your coves discovering from Portoferraio
PROCCHIO Nice village with one of the longest beach of the island.
POMONTE Situated on south west is a little village with few nice beaches with sand and gravel
It is a good place to snorkeling and to admire the relict lye on it’s side on the sea bed. Is one of the most popular destinations of scuba divers.
MARINA DI CAMPO You should spent at least one night in this village, have a swim during the day in the beautiful white bay and in the evening walk among craft stalls in the streets of the center
CAPOLIVERI Don’t miss this pearl, probably is the most beautiful village in the island, with an amazing view of the coast and it’s labyrinth streets of the center, rich in art and crafts shops, lovely clothes and accessories, and live music in the main square. This place is full of tiny bars and restaurants where you can have an idea what is the typical food of the island. Of course fish will be the main dish.
Another place to stop and enjoy the night, with many bars and the long walk along the port where you can admire gorgeous yachts and sail boats.
Eat a Granita made with fresh fruits in the ice cream shop in the main square of Porto Azzurro, it’s delicious.
FOOD AND WINE, A MIX BETWEEN LAND AND SEA
Elba’s flavors are very simple but delicious, nothing to envy to the rest of Italy, the cuisine of the island is a mix of taste between the sea and land. The main ingredients are fish and seafood, like octopus, stockfish, squid (once I had a risotto with squid ink and it was amazing), the sought lobsters of the Gulf of Marina di Campo. Chestnuts either fresh, dried or ground down to chestnut flour are grown in the island; there is a nice selection of honey, chestnut honey, eucalyptus honey, rosemary honey, ready to give you a special Mediterranean aroma.
Mushrooms like Porcino and Ovulo can give a twist to a classic fish recipe.
Try the “Schiaccia Briaca” that means Drunk bread, it’s a sweet flat bread topped with pine nuts, raisins and dried fruit.
Fig jam, a masterpiece of the the tuscan tradition.
You can accompany these delicious dishes with a good glass of wine, in fact Elba wines are first class like Elba White, Elba Red, Rosato, Ansonica, Moscato and Aleatico (DOCG). Don’t forget to say “Salute” when it’s time to raise a glass!
BEACHES AND COVES – SPIAGGE E CALETTE
There are more than 70 beaches in Isola d’Elba very different between each other
If you don’t want to walk or drive to those nice coves an alternative way to get there is from the sea, rent a paddle boat (pedalò in italian :)) and literally bike there from the main villages.
I drew a map with all of them. Starting from Portoferraio going counterclockwise
MY FAVORITE BEACHES
Fetovaia – Cavoli – Secchetto Those are actually three unmissable place to swim, Fetovaia is declared the most beautiful beach of the island, but all of theme deserve attention. Are one next to each other but very different, with white gritty sand and cliffs. You can visit them in one day
Seccione very similar to Capo Bianco, but less crowded during the peak season. White pebble beach, cristalline water
Cala Sansone, the beach offers a unique transparency of the water, a wide variety of rocks, caves and ravines frequented by colorful fish, is the ideal destination for snorkeling enthusiasts.
S.Andrea just walk on the smooth granite rocks and jump in the sea!
Pomonte 3 small different beaches and a relict inside the sea…what do you want more from an island?
Marina di Campo here you have a nice, large, white sand beach, transparent water, a cute village with everything you need, good food and a night market.
If you don’t have enough of the Tuscan archipelago you can do a day trip from Elba to one of the other little islands like Capraia, Giglio and Pianosa.
Or if the sea bothers you, you can hike to the top of Mt. Capanne 1019mt on sea level
Last news but not less important…at Elba Island you can see DOLPHINS and WHALES 🙂
In fact the island of Elba is located in the sanctuary for marine mammals, also known by the name of Cetacean Sanctuary. You can take a boat from Porto Azzurro and do a tour to see these wonderful species and maybe swim with dolphins, or take unforgettable cetaceans sightings in the wonderful waters of the Tuscan Archipelago.
Enjoy this little Paradise!