Living just a few minutes from the closest beach means that I’m used to walk by the sea, in every season of the year. As I’m sick of winter, lately I really feel like going to holiday resort and Elba, the fish-shaped gem of an island in Tuscany came to my mind for being a close destination from Genoa, my city.
Elba is very popular amongst Italian tourists during the summer, but can you imagine exploring its hidden beaches and walk along the several path now that there are almost no tourists around? I can already picture myself enjoying those amazing natural landscapes.
Did you know that in the 20th century Elba was just an unattractive industrial hub? Only after World World II did the island turned into a holiday destination, loved by families and young people. All the mines and the foundries no longer exist and you can only recognise its past from a few details, such as the name of the city Porto Ferraio, which means “port of iron”.
If you have never visited this magical island, I advise you to consider Elba for a relaxing weekend or to spend a few days during the upcoming warm season. Elba is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago national park, and it’s the mineral centre of Tuscany: there’s a museum showing all the varieties of minerals, and even the beaches are different colours, according to the predominant mineral composition of the area. Moreover, you can find red iron rocks at east, grey granite cliffs at west, sandy beaches in the south, and high cliffs in the north. Everything in a such small island.
The most known villages are Marciana Marina, Capoliveri (very popular amongst young people), Marina di Campo, Porto Azzurro, Porto Ferraio (great to spend the night in restaurants and pubs along the coastline) and Spiaggia di Sansone was named by Conde Naste’ Traveller as one of Italy’s most beautiful beaches.
If you want to see more than just beaches and bars, immerse yourself in the history: this is where the English exiled Napoleon Bonaparte and you can see his legacy almost everywhere in the island, especially in Villa dei Mulini and Villa San Marino, both situated in Portoferraio.
I love this island because it’s quite small, you can easily get around by car or scooter (which I prefer!) and the landscapes are just amazing! Being here makes me want to stay in campsites rather than in hotels, in order to feel closer to nature.
Getting there is quite easy: Elba is a 90-minute drive south from Pisa, and the ferry crossing from Piombino takes an hour and I guess Elba deserves more than one visit.
Don’t forget to ask locals about pirate stories!