Reached by ferry from Piombino (a 15-mi/24-km trip) Elba is one of seven Tuscan Archipelago islands in the Mediterranean. Adequate roads make touring relatively easy. Elba has more than 50 beaches thousands of pine trees beautiful reefs mountains (3 000 ft/915 m high) and archaeological ruins. The major town on the island Portoferraio a 16th-century walled city lies in the middle of the northern shore. Elba was Napoleonís home during his first exile; be sure to see the library at his residence Palazzina dei Mulini which overlooks the ocean. From Portoferraio take the cable car up the mountain to the Villa of San Martino Napoleonís summer residence which has artifacts and displays on his lifeóand a great view as well. Up to a week could be spent on the island touring snorkeling and relaxing. The island is so overcrowded during summer however that water shortages often occur.
A dream of sea
If we fantasize of a strip of land on which to toast after a dazzling navigation in the Mediterranean, then there can be no doubt: our favourite harbour is the island of Elba. Beaches of the finest sand, cliffs plunging into the sea, transparent waters teeming with fish...
But also mountain tracks, oak woods, medieval villages, modern hotels, fully equipped tourist centers and sailing schools run by old sea-dogs... Here, the beauties awarded by nature to the 147 kilometers of Thyrrenean coast nearly Tuscany have been preserved. The results of a very strict environment preservation program can be perceived immediately. In Elba, nature is the absolute ruler, the absolute dominator of the landscape.
The island is a continuous discovery: the sea changes colour in every creek. On the south shore it clashes over white cliffs or rails at vast beaches, while on the north
shore it seeps in the creeks among the very high cliffs or it caresses some quiet pebbled beaches. In a few minutes you can go from the granitic massif of Monte Capanne, the realm of moufflons and wild goats, to the mining areas of the east side, a real "Eldorado" for scientists and geology lovers.
Destinations in Elba
It's not easy to find a a patch of earth in the midst of the sea that can tell you a tale as rich as this, which begins when the story of mankind was still part legend. And
it is still harder to imagine another island with a "capital" chosen by nature rather than men. Yet that capital is Portoferraio. The port has always been considered the safest in the Mediterranean. It is centrally located with regards to the other seven municipalities on the Island and its territory reaches sweetly down to the sea in a tender embrace. These aspects enthral the visitors of today, but in antiquity they served as a magnet for many peoples.
In his adventurous search for the golden fleece, Jason stopped in Porto Argo (the mythical name of Portoferraio). It was from here that the valiant inhabitants of Elba set sail on their long trip in aid of king Priam and the unfortunate inhabitants of Troy. When the Romans took over the exploitation of the iron mines from the Etruscans, they built two sumptuous villas, the first on the promontory of the Grotte, with its once in a life time view of the bay, the other on the peninsula of la Linguella, caressed by the glittering waves sent in by the mistral. When Cosimo I de'Medici built that Jewel of military town planning, the fortress of Portoferraio, in the sixteenth century, he really had no choice of site. The entire canal which separates Elba from the continent can be observed from the ramparts of Forte Stella or the Falcone and it was thus possible to keep an eye on the terrible Saracen pirates that roamed these waters The harmony between sea, land and architecture was so perfect that the city was called Cosmopoli, cradle of civilization and culture, a model of order and equilibrium.
Next came Napoleon, who in his ten months rule over Elba (May 4, 1814 - February 26, 1815) profoundly marked the territory and the economic and social fabric of the city and the island. He set up his headquarters in the historical center in a large house known as "Villa dei Mulini" but he also had a summer residence in San Martino, where the Demidoff Museum now stands The furniture, weapons, letters written by the Emperor and his generals, can still be seen in the places where he lived. The paintings and frescoes celebrate his campaigns in Egypt, his victories in Arcole, Austerlitz and the many other battlefields where his military genius triumphed. Upon leaving the historical center, wild cliffs frame fascinating coves and small beaches of white pebbles.
The twisted stone columns of Enfola finally reveal their secrets caves smoothly polished by the perennial play of the waves, indentations populated by whole families of seagulls, the nests of swift low flying cormorants a paradise for scuba divers. Time has stopped and nature still rules. The road runs along on the heights and the cliffs gradually turn into hot sandy baches. The sleepy beaches of Scaglieri, Biodola, Forno follow along: golden beaches where people are one with the natural environment. Exploration of the eastern part takes us to localitŗ San Giovanni, with its mixture of countryside and ocean, with a small tourist harbour and a spa where ancient remedies and medications are extracted from the algae and muds of the sea. At Bagnala, with its hundred sails spread to the wind, the landscape is dominated by the castle of Volterraio, which has kept watch over the safety of the inhabitants of Elba for centuries.
Marina di Campo
Marina di Campo is located betweenthe massif of Mount Capanne and the central mountains of the islands where the plain reaches the sea; immediately after a wide pine forests the gold sandy beach along this coast is the largest of Elba. The ancient part of the village is situated on the south-west sides at the foot promontory which divides it from Galenzana. Until the early '50 the village was a small fishery harbours gathered between the sea and the vineyards on the hills but today "Campo" has an important rule in the island economy: its splendid location has been helpful for the increasing of tourism and the offer of receptive and ricreative structures is large and various. Few km. from the centre in La Pila places there's the only airport of the Tuscan Archipelago. The village has 2260 people and its district 4390 with more than 55 sq.km. it is the widest of the island.
Althoug the municipality was born only in 1894 Marina di Campo area is inhabited since ancient times: the remains of some graves discovered near Castiglione Hill date back to the II millennium B.C.; the ruins on the top of the hill probably belong to one of the Etruscan fortresses built from the V century B.C. to defend the rich iron mines on the island. After the drop of the Roman Empire the village was abandoned for the raids of Saracen pirates until the island annexation at Pisa Republic (XII century). Most of the defensing structures and Romanesque churches of the District belong to that period. San Mamiliano Church (X century) is antecedent while the Tower that controls the bay from the South side of the harbour dates back to the XVI century.