Guida dell'isola d'Elba

Guide to the island of Elba: what to see, the towns, Napoleon and history

Strange Fate: TheEmperor he’s been here for a few months, clearly reluctantly. And always dreaming of leaving. And yet, every one confirms it to you guide to the island of Elba, there is no corner that does not bear a memory of him, a trace of him. That is why in these days in which two centuries have passed since that fatal one May 5th in which Napoleon “He was”, it is good to come back right here. In the’iron island and of Bonaparte. Where to combine history and desire to go.
A desire that pushes us towards third island of Italy, the same one that, looking at the map, looks like one strange fish with head turned to Corsica and tail turned towards Tuscany. With an extra curiosity: a row of mountains runs along the spine of the island, and its highest point – the Mount Capanne – that’s exactly where the eye of the fish would be.
To get to ours fish-shaped island just an hour by ferry from Piombino and during the journey, as soon as one comes into view of its rock tail, a succession of winding bays and quiet beaches, overlooked by wooded slopes. For most of the year they appear deserted like shelters by the sea. Under which shine i metals.

Guide to the island of Elba: a metal fish

Yes, because since ancient times, the island of Elba was known as amineral island. Even today the hills are sprinkled with shiny crystals that peep out from the slopes of the Mount Capanne after the rainy months, like crocuses in spring. And at the eastern end of the island, in the municipality of Capoliveri, is located the Mount Calamita. The name says it all: it’s basically a mountain with a huge heart of iron. To the point that, legends say, he is capable of divert ships and drive the compasses crazy. Obviously it is not true.

But many of the weapons with which Roman legions they conquered an empire were forged from metal mined here. A story of effort and work which continued from the time of the Etruscans until the 1950s when excavations began to be abandoned for focus on tourism. The last mine, the Ginevro galleryclosed in 1981. And the iron remained in the land, in the memories and in the name of its most important port: Portoferraio.

Guide to the island of Elba

Here live 12 thousand gods 32 thousand inhabitants of the island and is the starting point of each holiday on Elba. As well as a place that intrigues. The city widens from the port towards thenatural amphitheater that surrounds and reveals it, in the ball of its own Old Townits long history. And the immeasurable baggage of legends. Here you walk uphill in stepped streets, we stop in small squares that suddenly open up between colorful houses like their flowery balconies and you can breathe the sea air. The same one that recalls that, according to the myth, the Argonauts but also, actually the pirates against whom Cosimo I de Medici he built walls and watchtowers.

The Emperor Napoleon: exile and sovereign

But the most important passenger who docked here, we know, is the one whose anniversary is in these hours: Napoleon Bonaparte. The emperor arrived on May 3, 1814 with the title of “ruler of the island”. And it sounds strange given that it was an exile as a result of a beating like that of battle of Leipzig. However, he maintained his imperial aplomb and received with detachment the obsequious welcome of the authorities who saw him get off the ship. He didn’t stay long: only 9 months.

But leafing through the pages of the guide to the island of Elba, one understands that they left their mark. His presence, in fact, gave birth to the tourist vocation of the island of iron (an emperor is really a vip guest) and, in addition, he made important efforts to improve the structures of what after the imperial glories of Versailles it must have seemed like a sad rock to him. Even if he couldn’t imagine that shortly after he would be awaited by the real exile on the island of St. Helena.

Guide to the island of Elba

He chose as a home the Villa dei Mulinistrategically perched above Portoferraio, from where he could monitor what was happening at sea. And, according to the evil ones, sit on a bench in the garden to look wistfully towards the north, towards the France lost. The house was later remodeled on drawing by Bonaparte who also chose the furnishings which, however, have been lost. Although today’s furniture is antique and conveys the atmosphere. Also worth seeing is the Villa San Martino where he lived occasionally and where many are still found prints of the time and cartoons taken from English newspapers. Needless to say: the press of the enemy era he never missed an opportunity to mock him.

Capoliveri and the iron mountain

Instead, let’s pay him homage, but let’s go and see the other towns on this island. Although small, it can offer many different faces. One of the most striking is that of town of Capoliverion the slopes of the Monte Calamita and possibly founded by etruscans and then colonized by sailors arrived from Greece, Phoenicians, Romans. You come here to see the small shops, eat a lot locals but also just go for a walk. And it’s worth it.

The two bright central squares they are full of cafes but for some shade and tranquility just slip into the network of streets outside the via Rome. There are no cars here – it is too narrow and steep – only silent alleys and steps leading up or down through stone archesthen sudden sunlit plazas with a view of the looming magnetic mountain or the blue sea that looks like glass. If you wish, you can also treat yourself to a visit to the Ginevro mine, the magnetite gallery more large in Europe. Now the lights are dim but you can get down to it -24 meters below sea level with the yellow helmet and the guide to find out what it meant to extract wealth from the mountains.

guide to the island of Elba

But we are on the sea: and before dedicating ourselves to discovering the beaches, let’s continue this little journey among the other pages of the guide to the island of Elba. Next stop Porto Azzurrofirst fishing port, then military outpost imposed by Philip III from Spain who built the fort Langone. Was it really impregnable if it still exists and is used as prison. We placidly start from Matteotti Squarethe heart of the country from where to walk towards the Carmignani walk, i.e. the waterfront. Before arriving at Barbarossa beach choose one of the many places to reward yourself with fresh fish and local white wine.

Guide to Elba: Marina di Campo and the sweet life

The journey continues, the island is small but large and of things to see there are many on Elba. Let’s therefore move westwards and arrive at Marina di Campo where the link with the mines is less strong. And more evident the vocation of tourism. What was a fishing village it has become a bit the center of seaside tourism thanks to one of most famous beaches and to the birth of structures of all kinds. Families come here but also young people who want clubs where be late.

But everyone, sooner or later, touches each other on the waterfront between stalls, clubs and scent of saltiness. And for the more adventurous don’t forget it from here the boat leaves which leads toPianosa Island. Was a hard prison, closed to the world, and this has kept a pristine environment: today, with precise rules and guided toursRoman remains are discovered and in the Mediterranean maquis ubirds and animals that exist only here. Under the sea, then, the depths are to scream.

guide to the island of Elba

Marciana, the quiet village

But the guide to the island of Elba repeats it, the sea here everywhere knows how to make the heart beat. So turning around and throwing an eye everyone will be able to find the most beautiful beaches. Or the ones that suit him best. We, to conclude this necessarily partial journey among the things to see on Elba, cross the back of the fish and arrive at Marciana Marina. And the smallest municipality, a village that has kept much of its appearance even if now, it is obvious, it is far from when it was the small one Marseille from which the ships loaded with barrels of Elba wine to bring to the mainland. On the waterfront there are places to relaxits squares are living rooms where you can see and be seen and the small hamlets, such as hillockleaning against the mountain are oasis of greenery and tranquility.

The circumnavigation and the guide to the island of Elba are almost finished: we peeked at almost every “fish corner”. A stopover before returning to Portoferraio but let’s do it Procchio. Here are some beautiful beachesa little accommodation and you are almost there center of the island. From here it is easy to leave to go to the east and to the west, to explore the interior or beach on the sea. Napoleon, we said it, was pounding to set sail and go back to war. From a bend in the road that looks out to the sea, we think it’s very comfortable here. And that on the back of the fish called Elbe we would like to go very far and very long into the blue.

guide to the island of Elba

How to get there: the ferry from Piombino and beyond

For get to the island of Elba must take the ferry from Piombino who arrives in Portoferraio with a journey of about an hour, an hour and a quarter. There are several shipping companies and in summer there is also a connecting route Portoferraio to Bastia in Corsica. Gods had also been granted in the past flights with European countries and Italian stopovers with the little one local airport.

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