It’s easy to find happiness in Elba. This island in Tuscany is a haven for both locals and tourists alike, with its crystal-clear waters, stunning beaches, spectacular landscapes, and splendid cuisine. Life here is good, and pretty laid back.Apart from being a piece of heaven on earth, Elba also holds historical significance, as it was once upon a time a place of exile for French Emperor Napoleon.
Getting To The Island
To get to Elba, we drove from Montecatini to the port of Piombino where ferries of major shipping lines leave for islands like Sardinia, Corsica, and in our case, Elba, which is only 10 kilometers away from the coast.Traffic was overwhelming as we approached the port, but luckily, we had enough time to drive through it. Minutes later, we were all aboard the Moby Kiss Ferry sailing off to Elba.
Piombino To Portoferraio
The Piombino-Portoferraio ferry route connects Italy with Elba, and is currently plied by four ferry companies. The number of daily crossings vary per company: Corsica Sardinia Ferries and Blu Navy Service both go through this route up to five times per day; Moby Lines, 12 times; and Toremar, 21 times.The cruise from Piombino to Portoferraio, Elba takes approximately an hour and 45 minutes. As you approach Elba, the first town that can be seen on the horizon is Rio Marina, perched on high ground among oak forests.
The Iron Port
“Portoferraio”, which is Italian for “Iron Port”, is a town located on the north east coast of Elba. One of the island’s most ancient and populated towns, the town traces its origins back to the Ligurians, the Etruscans, and the Greeks, before becoming a Roman colony.
According to Pronto Elba, the information guide to the island, ”In the 17th century, Portoferraio was at the center of a war between France, Austria, and England. In 1814, the town was entrusted to Napoleon, who lived here during his first exile (1814-1815). Under Napoleon, Portoferraio grew, notably thanks to new, modern infrastructure. Consequently, the port town became the place from which iron from Elba’s mines was transported to the rest of the continent, hence, its name.”
We stayed at Hotel Anfora. Our hotel was located in Capoliveri, which was around 20 minutes away from the port. Capoliveri is the oldest fortified center on Elba. Located on a small hill in the southern part of the island, it is also one of Elba’s most vibrant and characteristic towns. We were very lucky to have booked a hotel that was very close to the Capoliveri historic center, and just a stone’s throw away from the beach. Although we were a little disappointed when we first arrived at the hotel we later realised It was the perfect base for the time we spent in Elba.
According to Pronto Elba, “Capoliveri was first an Etruscan settlement before becoming a Roman one called Caput Liberi. The area is full of historical artefacts and was the headquarters of the Capitanato dell’Elba during the Republic of Pisa (up until the 15th century). Capoliveri endured the French-Turkish siege of 1553, the pirate raids in the first half of the 16th century, and the Franco-Spanish war in the following century. After the Napoleonic period, it was where miners first fought and made their claims until 1906, the year it separated from Porto Longone (now Porto Azzurro).”
Day 1 in Elba Island
We spent the rest of the afternoon until dusk lying on Naregno beach, listening to the sounds of the sea, and skimming through Pronto Elba for more information, trivia, and tips about Elba. By the end of our first day, I had already fallen head over heels for the island’s old-world charm; and was curious and eager to learn more, explore, and embrace its historical past.Napoleon’s mother Letizia once called Elba “beautiful, charming, elegant and frighteningly powerful”. Centuries after, her words have endured, and still ring true. I couldn’t agree more.
Lora by Lora.x