It seems that the only one who dared to hate Elba Island was Napoleon, who was forced into exile after the abdication from the throne of France. He hated it so much, he planned to escape it and get back to its reign... We're sure he had his good reasons, but we still think that Elba is one of the most beautiful islands of Italy, a little gem of the Tyrrhenian Sea!
We all know it, Tuscany is one of the best regions in terms of natural landscapes, food, wines, culture, and thermal baths: a popular destination for tourists all over the world. Moving along the coast, you can come across a magnificent coastal heritage that includes the islands of Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri, and Gorgona. They are all part of the natural park of the Tuscan archipelago, each with its unique beauty and breathtaking landscapes. Legend has it that the islands were created by the goddess Venus: after being born from the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she leaned in to lace her shoe and lost a pearl necklace. The pearls fell into the sea and formed the islands of the archipelago.
Today we set sail together for an exclusive seven-day itinerary to discover the beautiful Elba Island, the biggest one of the archipelago. An experience that will awaken your senses!
The Elba Island: a 7-day sailing itinerary
Our itinerary starts at the Port of Cala de' Medici, along the evocative Etruscan Coast. The marina is one of the most equipped of the whole Tuscany, so it's a mandatory stop to start your trip fully charged, and includes a nice town with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Located very close to Cala de' Medici, you can visit the town of Castiglioncello, one of the most famous destinations of the Tyrrhenian Sea for both those who love culture and those who prefer to have a relaxing vacation. The waters of this area obtained the "Blue Flag", an award given to the coastal town for the quality of the services and the attention to the environment.
We interviewed Leonardo, the base manager of Marina Cala de'Medici, who affirmed: "It is important to remember that these waters are part of the Italian cetacean sanctuary - while navigating these waters, you can encounter dolphins and whales. An unforgettable experience for those who never saw one".
Things to do in Castiglioncello:
- Strolling along the promenade: admire the liberty-style buildings and retro hotels.
- Visit the Pasquini Castle: now an important venue for events and exhibitions.
View of Castiglioncello at sunset
Once leaving Marina Cala de' Medici, it is not hard to reach the beautiful Capraia Island. Its name comes from the presence of goats (capre, in Italian) that once crowded the fields, and it's the third biggest island of the archipelago, after Elba and Giglio. Originated from a volcano thousands of years ago, a steep coastline extends throughout the island, whilst in the center of the land, the hills can reach a height of 450 meters. Once landed in the small port, you will immediately be enchanted by the beauty and vibrancy of the town. Let's make a stop here for a day before reaching Elba Island.
Best beaches in Capraia:
- Cala del Ceppo: its crystal clear waters are the perfect location for all snorkeling lovers or anyone who wish to relax on a stunning beach.
- Cala della Carbicina: not distant from the previous one, it's a beautiful bay with turquoise and reddish hues reachable only by boat or through a long path surrounded by rosemary bushes.
- Cala Rossa: once the crater of the volcano that generated the island, it's easily recognizable for the bright red of its volcanic rocks, which create an amazing contrast with the deep blue of the sea.
- Zenobito Tower: a centuries-old watchtower erected to defend the island from Saracen pirate attacks.
The crystal clear waters surrounding Capraia Island.
Marciana Marina is the smallest municipality in the whole of Elba. Viewed from the sea, it seems to set between the sea and the mountains, around a picturesque cove ending in its ancient port: it's impossible not to fall in love! Along the coastline of this area, you can moor in small coves and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. The waters are turquoise and crystal clear and nature is lush and colorful.
What to see in Marciana Marina:
- The village of Cotone: an old fishing town where time has stopped and buildings have been refurbished following the traditional colors. In the town lays a large granite rock, from which the town might have taken its name (from Latin cos, cotis: stone).
- Appiani Tower: a defensive tower before, a residence for famous writers later. Today it's the symbol of Marciana Marina and it's definitely worth a visit.
- Capon Valley: the valley is a short distance from Marciana Marina, and it's the perfect location for hiking lovers. You can visit the old farmhouses in typical Elban architecture scattered around the area.
The colorful town of Marciana Marina
Marina di Campo can be considered the capital of Elban nightlife. Its historical center has developed around what was once a small port for fishermen, and it's not an ideal destination for shopping, for romantic dinners, and for enjoying the evening social life in front of a good cocktail. Numerous events take place in the town during the summer season, such as outdoor concerts on the beach.
What to see in Marina di Campo:
- Pianosa island: un a tiny flat island located in front of Marina di Campo. Sail there to enjoy the beautiful Cala di San Giovanni.
- Elba Aquarium: One of the biggest aquariums in Italy in terms of Mediterranean species.
- Marina del Campo Tower: a 25-meter high tower located inside the town and built in the 11th century.
The area around Marina del Campo presents numerous important Roman archeological sites that are definitely worth a visit.
The historical center of Marina di Campo
We set sail to the enchanting Porto Azzurro at sunset is amazing, located in the largest gulf of the east side of the island, the Gulf of Mola. Arriving at sunset is a breathtaking spectacle, as the sky tinges with red behind the hills of the gulf. In the evening the streets come alive with stalls in a cheerful and relaxed atmosphere. Piazza Matteotti, the most beautiful square on the island and one of the most beautiful in Italy, is perfect for romantic walks and shopping, and for attending summer events. Stroll along the Carmignani promenade, a panoramic path that stretches along the coast of Porto Azzurro.
Best beaches in Porto Azzurro:
- Terranera beach: characteristic for its dark-colored gravel and a pond right next to it. This beach is only reachable by boat!
- Barbarossa beach: situata in una baia nel versante sud-orientale dell'isola, davvero da non perdere! One of the pretties beaches of the area, located in a bay south-east of the island.
- Pianotta beach: fine white sand, no crowds of tourists, and crystal clear waters are what characterize this beach the most.
Terranera Beach and the nearby pond
Portoferraio is usually the first destination for those who visit Elba island. From the sea, the city appears immersed in an inlet protected by ramparts: Portoferraio was in fact built around a series of de Medici fortifications requested by Cosimo I de Medici in the 16th century, which are now some of the most interesting attractions of the city. The historic center has a unique charm and develops along the side of a small hill. North-west from the center you can reach the beautiful white beaches of Le Ghiaie, Capo Bianco, and Padulella. The beauty of this city also enchanted Napoleon himself, who chose Portoferraio as his main residence.
What to see in Portoferraio:
- Villa Dei Mulini: located on the upper side of the historical center, it was Napoleon's main residence during his exile on Elba island.
- de Medici fortifications: built with the aim of making Portoferraio a strategic defensive point in the Mediterranean Sea. The most interesting to visit are Forte Falcone, il Forte Stella e la Torre della Linguella.
- Linguella Archeological Site: the site includes the Hammer Tower, the remains of a Roman villa, and the archeological museum where are preserved some interesting Etruscan and Roman finds.
The enchanting city of Portoferraio from above
Finally, we sail back to the mainland and reach San Vincenzo, one of the most famous seaside resorts of Tuscany and specifically of the Etruscan Coast.
In the area, there are archaeological and naturalistic parks, an ideal destination for those seeking the beauty and scents of the Maremma region. An excellent destination for wine lovers, as the area of the Etruscan Coast is renowned for the production of excellent Tuscan wines such as the famous Sassicaia, considered one of the best wines in Italy.
What to see in San Vincenzo:
- San Vincenzo Tower: commissioned by the Republic of Pisa to monitor the nearby port.
- Sailor's Path: a pedestrian route that winds through the rocks and leads tourists to the bronze statue of a sailor.
- Archeological Park of Baratti and Populonia: here you can admire the ancient ruins of the Etruscan and Roman city of Populonia, surrounded by stunning views on the islands of Elba and Capraia.
Hills and vines around San Vincenzo
We interviewed Marco, the base manager of Sailing Sicily in Scarlino, one of the main ports to set sail to the Tuscan Archipelago from. He gave us some useful navigational tips, as well as recommended some of the most amazing restaurants in the area. Watch the whole interview here!
Visiting Tuscany on a sailboat is a unique experience. Check Sailogy's availability around Elba Island and plan your next unforgettable vacation!