Elba Island, a restful refuge within the Tuscan Archipelago, has been a popular destination for yachts and tourists for decades. With its idyllic anchorages, crystal-clear waters and beautiful beaches, Elba has also been likened to the Caribbean but with better food! Last year my family spent the summer holidays in Elba and it made a lasting impression for all the right reasons.
Best known as the place that Napoleon was exiled in 1814, the history of the island extends to pre-Roman times, with popular attractions such as Villa Romana alle Grotte and Villa Romana di Capo Castello dating back to the first century BC.
Measuring 224 square km, Elba is Tuscany’s largest island, situated 10 km from mainland Italy. Together with the islands of Giglio, Giannutri, and Montecristo it's also part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, the largest marine park in Europe.
The island's main town is Portoferraio and if you want to experience life as a local you'll find plenty of lively bars, quaint restaurants, a traditional indoor market and specialty shops and boutiques. There's also a wonderful ferry boat service that takes only an hour to go from Portoferraio to Piombino on the mainland.
Elba's golden beaches will always be a main attraction and reason for visiting, but there's also plenty to explore such as caves and hilltop towns, the historical residence of the Mills, the Archaeological Museum, the Pinacoteca Foresiana and the Church of Mercy. If you're into sport there are some great hikes and bike routes as well as snorkeling and diving.
As the demand for marinas increases in Italy, a popular choice with the yachting community is Marina di Portoferraio. Set in a natural bay protected from most winds, the marina offers good facilities, mooring assistance, security surveillance and daily weather forecasts. Marina di Portoferraio is also a convenient base for exploring the many local attractions on offer.
Elba has approximately 30,000 inhabitants and many locals embrace this paradise as their home; Virginia Pierri shared her insights on what it is like to live in this dream destination:
“All around Italy, Elba Island is known as the best place to go to in the summer. I am so lucky to live here! The beaches, filled with a lot of fish and small pebbles and gravel as sand, are my favorite part. It is an unwritten rule to just rent some chairs and hang out there the majority of the day when in Elba. Teenagers that live on Elba, like myself, form a strong bond because of how small the island is and how often we see each other.
Because this is such a touristy place though, we have the advantage of meeting people from all over the world and from diverse places of Italy such as Milan, Rome and Pisa. It is awesome to see yachts and boats come in and to get to know the captain, crew, and their friends when running into them on the Island! Many people think that it gets lonely or boring here but it's the exact opposite.”
If you're thinking of visiting Elba Island, don't miss the magical sunset at Capo Bianco, where it looks as if the sun sinks right into the sea that surrounds it. It's a popular beach and often full because of the eagerness of both tourists and locals to catch a glimpse. You can also dine on this beach and enjoy the company of the seagulls and other local wildlife.
Known for its excellent wine produced from grapes grown on the island since 1967, many tourists will go out of their way to attain some. Fishing is also very popular, so local cuisine tends to revolves around seafood with shurrita, a stockfish stew flavored with garlic and anchovies.
One restaurant that is famous for it’s superb wine and seafood is Delfino Verde. At the end of a pleasant stroll along the streets of Porto Azzuro. Located directly in front of the harbour, you will find friendly staff and a ambiance.
With its beautiful beaches, rich history and fabulous food, a trip to Elba Island is undoubtedly a unique experience and one of Italy’s finest gems.
About the author:
Jonni Albetta is working with the team at OnboardOnline to gain work experience while studying for her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communications at Eastern Nazarene College, Quincy, MA. Jonni is an aspiring marketing and communications professional and also a keen blogger sharing a personal perspective on life, fashion and travel. You can check out her new website here: JonniNicole.com