The Island of Elba is the largest in the Tuscan Island chain; an itinerary in itself, it contains a secluded charm, yet is rich in history, civilization and flora. A tour through this splendid island’s different municipalities, each of which reveal themselves to be tiny worlds apart, begins in Portoferraio, one of the Island’s mooring points.
Here, Cosimo I de’ Medici ordered an impregnable fort to be constructed; today, it is still perfectly visible, and inside run the winding roads of the historic center. Obligatory for trekkers is a visit to Castello del Volterraio, who can witness its breathtaking view. The beaches of Portoferraio are spectacular: Biodola, Scaglieri and Forno face the Gulf of Biodola; Ghiaie, Padulella, Sansone and Capo Bianco lie next to the "Scoglietto,” immediately behind the centro storico.
Here you can find the Museum of the Peasant Civilization, the Museum of Civic Architecture and the Seat of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago. Countless are the beaches here; just a few of them are: Procchio, la Poalina, Spartana, Pomonte, Sant’Andrea, and Chiessi, loved by surfers. Marciana crops up in the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, where there are numerous paths to take visitors through its woods, which thrive with chestnut trees, pines, and Mediterranean brush. Trekking enthusiasts will discover ancient goat farms and, with a little bit of luck, herds of moufflon (wild sheep native to the larger islands of the Tyrhennian Sea) and boars. Anyone visiting this magnificent territory should dedicate a day to Monte Capanne, a rocky mass where, from its summit (and on a clear day), you can see all the other Tuscan Islands, as well as the coast from the Argentario Promontory up to Livorno, and even the northern half of Corsica. We also advise trekkers to take an excursion to Santuario della Madonna del Monte and to the Hermitage of San Cerbone.
The smallest of Elba’s communes, is our third stop. Besides traveling through the territory’s main piazzas, we recommend a walk about the petite center of Cotone, where you can watch the sunset between the town’s Tower and the cliffs of Punta del Nasuto. Marciana Marina’s beaches include Bagno, Schioppo and Redinonce, characterized by its gravel pit and rocks, in addition to the beauty of its seabeds.
Fouth point on our itinerary is Campo nell’Elba, with its exquisite beaches: Campo, Fetovaia and Cavoli. Make a visit to its ancient borgos, San Piero and Sant’Ilario, which rise on the hills that dominate over the Gulf of Marina di Campo. If you’re looking for fun nightlife, Marina di Campo is highly-recommended, as it is one of the busiest localities for youth tourism.
Capoliveri is also a youth hot-spot, and the fifth site on our itinerary. Graced by many beaches (Lacona stands out) and many hotels and lodging structures, Capoliveri’s streets and piazzas are crawling with tourists. There must be a reason for this: many are the touristic attractions, from the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie, overlooking the gulf; the Focardo Fort and Monte Calamita with its iron deposits; to the Minerological Museum, one of the best-known in Europe.
The sixth destination on our tour is Porto Azzurro, where still today we can see the signs of Spanish rule (17th Century), e.g. the Fort of San Giacomo. Do not miss: the harbor where tourists can dock ferries and boats, the piazza surrounded by shops and restaurants, and the Baroque Church of San Giacomo Apostolo. Three kilometers (approx. 2 mi) away is the historic center, where the Sanctuary della Madonna del Monserrato preserves the image of the “Madonna Nera” (Black Madonna). Opposite this small piazza is a panoramic view of Barbarossa Beach, a haven for divers. Also check out the emerald-colored Lake Terranera.
Seventh stop: Rio Marina (Commune of Parco Minerario), which is comprised of Cavo, a minuscule town comprising exquisite beaches, and its quaint and charming landfall.
Finally, we arrive in Rio Elba, the oldest village on the island, with settlements dating back to the Neolithic epoch. Be sure to see the Romitorio di Santa Caterina (the Hermitage of St. Catherine), location of the Orto dei Semplici, a botanical garden with a large variety of plant species.