An oasis of nature and steeped in history, Elba Island will enchant you with its beautiful beaches and crystal clear sea. Rich in charm and traditions, it will amaze you in every single corner you visit. Famous for the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose bicentenary of death falls this year. 5-star gastronomy, not to be missed, will complete the tourist offer.
Elba: its beauty lies in its variety
The Elba island forms the Archipelago Toscano National Park together with Pianosa, Capraia, Gorgona, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri. Belonging to the province of Livorno and with an area of only 223.50 square kilometres, it is made up of 7 different municipalities - until 2017 there were 8 - including Portoferraio, Campo nell'Elba, Capoliveri, Marciana, Rio nell'Elba, Rio Marina and Porto Azzurro. The above-mentioned municipalities are quite different from each other and with little contact and connections. This is the reason why over time they have taken on totally different characteristics in terms of economy, customs, gastronomic traditions and even their respective dialects. The island of Elba is waiting to be explored, offering so many beautiful places to admire that you will be spoilt for choice. It is characterised by the green and blue nuances of an uncontaminated nature that dominates everywhere. Breathtaking views and panoramas, cliffs, golden beaches lapped by crystal-clear waters to match all tastes and requirements. Lunar landscapes, unmistakable scents, unique flavours, villages nestled in the mountains, history, sport and relaxation. It is impossible to be disappointed: so many places to discover in an absolutely suggestive atmosphere, an unforgettable experience. From the point of view of the accommodation facilities and activities offered, there are numerous opportunities created ad hoc for any type of holiday and tourist: families with children, young people, or couples who can choose the most congenial option and fulfil their every desire.From the Spanish fortress of Forte Longone in the municipality of Porto Azzurro, excursions to the granite and panoramic Mount Capanne, the mining complex of Rio Marina, the Isola Paolina, the historic centre and the Medici Fortresses in Portoferraio are just some of many stops of a wonderful journey through history and nature.
The beaches on Elba island
A few words about the beaches are in order because of their peculiar variety. There are many different types of beaches: golden sand, small pebbly coves, black sandy beaches with white pebbles, and smooth granite cliffs. In this regard, it is interesting to remember that granite is a fundamental material for the island's economy. Its extraction, in fact, dates back to Roman times and is still a practiced activity today. According to the Italian artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari, 7 columns of the Pantheon in Rome and several columns of the Duomo in Pisa were born here. After this little "digression", let's get back to talking about our island. Characterized by a rather mild climate, it offers a rich variety of landscapes: lush greenery, perched villages, and gulfs alternate with beautiful beaches and coves of every colour and type. It is impossible to describe them all, so we will mention only the most particular and characteristic ones.
Spiaggia di Sant'Andrea
In Marciana, on the northwest side of the island, this is a small beach of fine sand, surrounded by a frame of granite rocks. Although it is not exactly easy to reach, it is well worth it for its beauty.
Spiaggia di Pomonte
Always in the municipality of Marciana, overlooking the village, this is a rather quiet and uncrowded beach. It is characterised by its transparent sea bed and large granite rocks.
Spiaggia di Capo Bianco
As its name suggests (literally white cape) this beach in Portoferraio has a white pebble seabed and a white cliff that frames it. Crystal-clear water in spectacular shades of green.
Spiaggia di Marina di Campo
The largest beach on the island of Elba is in Marina di Campo. It stretches for about 1.3 km, practically adjacent to the town and therefore easy to reach. Opposite, you can admire the island of Montecristo. With its fine golden sand, it is a comfortable beach and suitable for families with children as in some places, up to 50 metres from the shore, the water is no higher than waist level.
Other beaches not to be missed
Spiaggia di Terranera
The beach of Terranera, peculiar from a geological point of view, is one of the most beautiful on the island and is located in the municipality of Porto Azzurro. It is separated from the homonymous lake by a strip of black sand, a shade due to the strong presence of hematite. The effect of sunlight on the grains of dark sand mixed with mineral dust creates a unique sparkle. The combination of the small emerald green pool with the intense blue of the clear sea, with shallow sandy bottoms ideal for swimming, is striking. The lake was created by filling with sulphurous and sea water the small mining basin where minerals such as hematite, magnesite and pyrite were extracted.
As its name suggests (namely "the beach of the girl in love") this is the most romantic and suggestive beach on the island. It is characterised by fine white sand, pebbles, and clear turquoise waters. According to a legend, this young bride-to-be jumped into the sea in an attempt to save her beloved, who had been kidnapped by Barbarossa's pirates. Unfortunately, she disappeared into the water, and only her shawl was found.
Spiaggia di Sansone
A small handkerchief of white pebbles contrasts with the dark cliffs overlooking the sea. This little-used beach is located in Portoferraio and boasts particularly limpid waters.
Spiaggia della Padulella
Found in the municipality of Portoferraio, a beautiful white sandy beach, surrounded by two spurs of white rock covered by rich vegetation.
Spiaggia delle Ghiaie
Not far from Portoferraio, this beach is characterised by white pebbles smoothed by the sea and peculiar because they have black spots. According to legend, the darker spots are the traces of the sweat of the Argonauts who stopped here after conquering the Golden Fleece. This part of the coastline and the sea in front of it is a biologically protected area, with spectacular marine flora and fauna, much appreciated by diving enthusiasts.
Napoleon Bonaparte and Elba Island
This year - ed. 2021 - marks the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, a man whose destiny was intertwined with the island of Elba. Napoleon Bonaparte, who died on 5th May 1821, spent the period of his exile here from 3rd May 1814 to 26th February 1815. During these ten months, when weather conditions were favourable, he used to bathe and take long swims on the Spiaggia delle Viste, a small beach near the historic centre of Portoferraio. So-called because it offers spectacular views of the enchanting Elban sea, to which Napoleon was certainly not indifferent. As proof of this, the Villa di Mulini - his official residence - is located in the upper part of Portoferraio. Next to it, we can admire two military symbols, Fort Stella and Fort Falcone. Not far away, Villa San Martino, another residence of the general, also known as Villa Bonaparte, was later transformed into the National Museum of Napoleonic Residences together with Villa San Martino. To go from one villa to another, it is known that Napoleon preferred to ride his horse for the feeling of freedom and, no doubt, to enjoy the breathtaking nature. His sister Pauline, on the other hand, liked to sunbathe in isolated, quiet places, away from everyone on the small island off the beach at Marciana, which was named Spiaggia della Paolina in her honour. It was also known as one of the most suggestive and panoramic points from where he could also see his beloved Corsica.
Food and wine excellence
Since it is an island characterised by the fusion of many peoples and cultures, food and wine traditions have certainly been influenced by this great diversity. However, the typical dishes are based on fish prepared in various ways such as boiled octopus, squid and cuttlefish or soups. Absolutely not to be missed is Stoccafisso alla riese, a delicacy made with stockfish cooked with garlic, parsley, potatoes, onion, tomato, chilli pepper, black olives, anchovies, capers and pine nuts. Moreover, the Sburrita, a fish soup prepared with spices and vegetables. The main ingredient is wet cod, wild mint, chilli peppers and Tuscan bread. As in the rest of Tuscany, Caciuccio, the famous soup prepared with different types of fish including octopus, cuttlefish, cicadas and scorpionfish, is omnipresent.
Another very speciality is the Schiaccia briaca, a typical Christmas cake now available everywhere and at any time of year. Kneaded with sultanas, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, aleatico wine and oil, it was once given to sailors because it kept for a long time and was very nutritious. The origins of the name schiacciata ubriaca (where schiacciata is the name of the pastry itself and briaca means "drunk") are curious because aleatico wine and alkermes were used to give it its traditional red colour.
Aleatico DOCG wine is one of the island's excellence, perfect if combined with chocolate or other typical Elban desserts. A raisin wine with an intense red colour and purple hues, it has an aftertaste reminiscent of dried fruit. In the past, it was used as a restorative for sick people and it seems that Napoleon, during his exile on the island of Elba, appreciated it so much that he gave a strong impulse to the cultivation of the vine variety.
Elba island, a tour through nature, history, relaxation and.... taste!