Isola d’Elba is probably one of the last hidden secrets when it comes to Italian sea. Since I live in London and I have the chance to chat about Italy with people from all around the world, I hear mentioning the same spots over and over again: Sardinia, Cinque Terre, Capri, Amalfi and occasionally Sicily and Puglia. Don’t get me wrong: they’re all amazing places worth a trip, it’s just.. there’s so much more.
We were lucky enough to spend three days in Elba, and I’m here to tell you all about it!
Isola d’Elba is the biggest island of the Tuscan arcipelago. It is 35 km long so it’s quite big. The best thing about this place is its variety: in the space of a few km. you can find at least four different landscapes: from the white crystal-clear beaches to the Tuscan-style hills, from the rough iron mines to the luxurious Mediterranean vegetation and vines that run all the way to the sea.
Of course, the best bit of Isola d’Elba is the sea. Viola was exploding with excitement while we took a boat and drove along the emerald coast, stopping by to take some pictures, admire the seagulls on the rocks and splashing into the water.
I feel so lucky to be able to show her all these amazing places. Sharing it with my family it’s probably the best part of my job. We can’t get enough of discovery, be it a gloomy London, a rainy Oxford – which I’ll soon tell you about! – or a sunny Italy. Be it a four star or a small room in a guesthouse. I hope to teach her to love the world. To respect different cultures. To make the most out of any place she’ll visit. Hard mission, but I try my best and have fun along the way.
One of the ways I use to keep her interest high is to tell her stories about the places we visit. In Isola d’Elba there are a few legends worth telling. The first involves Dumas’ book ‘The Count of Montecristo’ – the little island right in front of Elba, others include many pirate stories as this was considered a very important base for the Mediterranean raids.
Isola d’Elba has also a strong mining history. Being soil rich in iron, mines have been active until 1981. It is possible to visit Ginevro Mine, and wander around the now silent galleries and caves, following the paths of the mine workers. It is a great excursion for kids. Helmet on, and off we go in the depth of the earth!
What makes Elba unique is its variety of landscapes, which involves having many different kind of beaches, from the white-sanded flat ones to the rocky, stone-paved ones. In the island there are 208 of them, and 70% is still only reachable through the sea, so I strongly recommend you rent a boat for at least half a day. The Western coast is the one I loved the most, look at this:
For families with small children the most popular areas are Marina di Campo, Lacona and Lido di Capoliveri. Beautiful beach spots are also Fetovaia and Cavoli.
If you have a boat go for the west coast and explore the area around Campo Lofeno/Costa del Sole.
Elba has recently started to express its foodie side. It’s easy to find fresh fish as well as delicious Tuscan meat, sun kissed veggies and juicy fruit. Wine is one of the protagonist of the local food scene. In the vineyard gently descending towards the sea many delicious white and red variety are produced. Ansonica and Procanico are the local whites, Sangiovese is the red of this area and Aleatico is the typical sweet dessert wine. Some typical dishes include ‘Polpo con le patate’ (octopus with potatoes), stockfish and ‘Schiaccia Briaca‘, a pudding made of red wine, sugar, olive oil, raisins and pine nuts. You can find good gelato almost anywhere but the one by Zero Gradi is the best of the island. Don’t miss a Schiaccina: pizza dough sandwich filled with ham and cheese or mozzarella and tomato. Perfect for your lunch break by the beach!
Bike and mountain bike are super popular here. You can find a lot of bike paths in the island, from easy to pro level. Trekking is also a must, especially if you visit Elba during May-June or Sept-Oct, when the weather’s less hot and you can enjoy a walk along the flowery coast. The best itineraries are the Acqua dell’Elba one, following the essences, flowers and plants that are used to create the famous island perfumes. Another beautiful path will take you from Pomonte to Fetovaia.
Kayak is an amazing way to do sports while exploring the coast and its beaches while you’ll find a few horse riding options (and a donkey one too!) for itineraries in the mine and hills area. There are many sailing schools for kids, who can also have fun snorkeling close to the beach, as it happens in Barabarca.
Where to stay.
If you’re with kids you can choose one of the many 3 stars hotels directly on the beach. Popular family spots are Marina di Campo, Lacona and Lido. Other beautiful areas are Procchio and Capoliveri. You will need a car or a scooter: it would be such a shame to stay in the same place for the whole week: Elba is so different from one area to the other, and rich of things to see and do!
All info: Visit Elba
4 stars – Hotel del Golfo – in Procchio, lovely residence with a beautiful private beach.
3 stars – Tenuta La Chiusa – stunning agriturismo Tuscan style with its own vineyards.
3 stars – Stella Maris – perfect for families as it’s ON the beach.
camping – Laconella – beautiful camping with access to beaches and a wonderful terrace overlooking the gulf.
Agriturismo Montefabbrello – great menu with only local products
Pilade – if you love meat that’s the place to go
Cooperativa dei pescatori Acli Pesca – in Marina di Campo, fishermen cook their fresh fish on the spot
Publius – fish, meat and a terrace overlooking the sea
La botte gaia – in Porto Azzurro, great food suggested by locals
Zero Gradi – the best gelato of the island
Elbatrek – Stefano was our guide and I highly recommend him!
Acquario dell’Elba – the Mediterranean sea in an aquarium
Nautilus – transparent floor boat
Le vie delle essenze – trekking along the Aqua dell’Elba essences paths
Acqua dell’Elba – perfums made with the island essences
Panificio Nuova Elba – buy here some ‘schiaccia briaca’
Aleatico dell’Elba – the typical sweet wine is a great souvenir
Minerals and stones: easy to find in shops around the island
All photos shot with a Canon G1X Mark II.
Donut on Goolp.it