Come and discover Tuscany’s hidden treasure
Elba island is one of Tuscany’s least known retreats, yet best equipped for tourists. Why? Because it’s coast, beaches, mountainous backdrop and its people make it a magical place to visit that will leave you in awe.
It was also Napoleon’s chosen spot for his retirement during his time of exile. To get to the island, you can take a ferry from Piombimo Marítima to Portoferraio, the capital of the island. If you’re wondering how long you’ll need to stay to make the most the island, the answer is clear: no more than three days. Two days will allow you time to discover and explore the island, dedicating one to relaxation, which is essential in such a beautiful setting.
To begin with, in Portoferraio you will find the Forte Stella, which hosts one of the oldest lighthouses in Europe. From the top, you can enjoy some incredible panoramic views of the harbour and of the Villa dei Mulini, Napoleon’s winter residence. For lovers of hiking, and for anyone who enjoys a magnificent view, a visit to the Castle of Volterraio is recommended. The beaches of Portoferraio are equally spectacular, amongst them Bioloda, Scaglieri and Forno. One of the most authentic parts of Portoferraio is the harbour, where crowds gather to see the boats and the fishermen arrive with their catch of the day. Here, you can also buy fresh fish at a great price.
The next step on the itinerary is Marciana. It is a small town that retains a medieval structure: from the entrance of the town to its steep, cobbled alleyways. From here you can visit the Civiltá Contadina Museum, the Civico Architectónico Museum and the House of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago. Due to the island’s location in the national park, you can lose yourself in the dense forest, guided by several trails which are perfect for hikers. Once more, you will encounter some incredible beaches; Procchio, la Paolina, Sparatana, Pomonte, Sant’Andrea y Chiessi are among the most beautiful and are worshipped by surfers.
Don’t forget to visit Capanne mountain, where on a clear day you can admire all of the islands of the archipelago from the coast of Argentario and Livorno to the northern part of Corsica. As well as taking a stroll around the main squares of the town, you are also advised to check out the secluded district of Cotone, where you can enjoy the sunset over the tower and the breakwater at Nasuto point.
Situated on the south coast, Capoliveri is found on top of a hill, which offers a beautiful panoramic view of this part of the island. It is one of the most characteristic towns of Elba island, with an original architecture which preserves the appearance of a medieval village. There are winding alleys, stone houses and arcades known as “chiassi” where you can find artisan stalls. You can also taste the Tuscan cuisine in the local restaurants along with, of course, a glass of wine. Don’t forget you are in a region renowned for its wine!
If you have time, make sure to check out the hidden beaches. The most bustling ones are found closest to Portoferraio, but there are others that are more uniquely beautiful, such as the long stretch of beach, Procchio, which is situated in the town of Marciana, 10 kilometres west of the capital. It is one of the best beaches on the island.
Translated and Adapted by Josephine Irving