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Elba Island

Elba Island has been the theatre of big historical events. Every Mediterranean civilization has left important marks of its own landscape .


Tuscan Archipelago - Elba IslandHas been the theatre of big historical events. Every Mediterranean civilization has left important marks of its own landscape . Elba was an inexhaustible mine for Etruscan people who exploited the mines and exported the iron all over the Mediterranean sea. After 5 centuries of Etruscan domain, various necropolises remain as well as some blast furnace’s ruins and numerous villages. The Romans appreciated Elba for its iron but also for the mud baths as testifies one of the two rich patrician villas, of which ruins are in the nearby of the present termal structure. During the Middle Age the pisan domain left some important and suggestive buildings used in defence of the area which show the importance of the possession of the island. The Seignory of the Appiani and Cosimo De’ Medici followed. The latter built his Cosmopoli (the present Portoferraio) on the ruins of the roman Fabricia and surrounded it with walls which saved the inhabitants from the piratical raids. The Spaniards settled into Porto Azzurro and defended the area with an imposing building. The fortress of S. Giacomo (transformed in penal colony) is still today overlooking the landscape.
During the XVIII century Elba was contested by the Austrians, the Germans, the English and the French with diplomatic negotiations or with fierce battles until it was assigned to Napoleon Bonaparte who during his 10 months government left significant marks.
He built roads, organised the mineral economy, increased the production and the export of wine. On his return to France Napoleon left two houses which are now National Museums attended by thousands of visitors. Nature , art and culture are enclosed in a micro-cosmos of 224square K .and create a unique atmosphere, evoke extraordinary sceneries.
Tuscan Archipelago - Elba Island Fine sandy beaches, the cliff rises sheer from the sea, transparent waters and rich depths but mountains’ paths, chestnut and oak-woods, medieval villages, hotels, tourist facilities and sailing’s schools too. The island is a real discovery: the sea changes its colours, the waves break against the white cliff south while lap on the gravel beaches north.
In short time you go from the granite massif of Monte Capanne, reign of the moufflons and of the wild goats, to the mineral areas of the oriental side, a real “El Dorado “ for scientists and geologists. Elba is a real surprise for guests both in spring and in autumn when it displays its profound essence. It is a Mediterranean island full of colours, pinewoods, halm-oaks, chestnuts, agaves and Indian figs. It is a small piece of the world which has kept the old and a rich ,uncontaminated nature.
A islands on a human scale which exploits in the right way the modern technologies without compromising its nature, its landscape, its sea, its coast, mountains and woods.

Elba - Chiesa di Santo StefanoHistory:
The Island of Elba
has been the theater of many great historical events: most Mediterranean civilizations have left important traces of their passing. Nature and millenary art and culture are enclosed inside 224 sq kilometers and give to this land a unique atmosphere with extraordinary scenarios: the result of the encounter of so many different peoples.
According to myth it was at Port Argon, today called Capo Bianco, that Jason rested during his adventurous search for the Golden Fleece. While Virgil in his Aeneid reveals that from the same port, 300 Elba inhabitants sailed in to help the "Pious Aeneas" in the hard battle against the Rutuli.

For the Etruscans, the Island of Elba was an inexhaustible source of richness: from the 8th century BC onwards they exploited the mines and exported iron in all the Mediterranean basin, gaining great richness.
The furnaces were built and day and night minerals were fused among dazzling flashes. In fact, Aristotle narrates that the Greek sailors named the island Aethalia (spark). On the island there are various necropolises, some remains of fusing ovens and many high villages in unique settings, dating from the Etruscan period.

Napoleon Bonaparte who gained full ownership and sovereignty of the islandFrom the decline of the Etruscan civilization, the Romans inherited the iron industry but also exploited the granite bodies and discovered the curative mud at the San Giovanni Thermal Baths, the beautiful natural environment and the excellent wine.
Pliny the Elder called it “The Island of the good wine”. That is how the great sea traffic started with ships carrying amphoras full of wine: many are still preserved in the Archeologic Museum of Portoferraio and Marciana and together with other surprising finds rescued from the sea, they tell the history of ancient navigation. Magnificent patrician villas, such as Linguella, Grotte and Capo Castello, were built in the most scenic gulfs, and were in those days, as still today, holiday places.

During the Middle Ages it was the Maritime Republic of Pisa that exploited the iron and granite mines of the Island of Elba: most of the columns that embellish Piazza dei Miracoli have been shaped by the skillful stonecutters of San Piero.
There are many monuments from the Pisan period: the fine Romanesque churches, the Tower of San Giovanni in Campo built on an enormous mass of granite, and above all, the powerful “Fortress” of Marciana and the Castle of Volterraio, a lookout over mountains and seas.
In 1548 came the turn of the Medici: Cosimo I built the fortified town of Portoferraio, a unique example of military town planning. It blended so perfectly with the sea and the land that the new city was called Cosmopoli, “cradle of civilization and culture, example of balance and rationality”.
Elba Island  MAPAfterwards came the Spanish who settled in Porto Azzurro and built the imposing San Giacomo Fort, today a prison, as well as various chapels and the charming Sanctuary of Monserrato, set at the top of a sombre mountain.
During the 18th century, Elba was disputed by the Austrians, the Germans, the English and the French, through frantic diplomatic treaties and fierce battles. Finally it was Napoleon Bonaparte who gained full ownership and sovereignty of the island. During his ten months of government he made important changes: he built roads, reorganized the mining economy and increased the production and export of wine.

From an ancient deconsecrated church he made a charming theater that after an expert restoration that brought it back to its ancient splendour, today is the seat of important cultural exhibitions.

When he returned to France, for the decisive hundred days, Napoleon left two residences that have become National Museums visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Visit Elba Island
Portoferraio

Chief town and main port center, it is situated on the north-east coast, on a promontory that closes the gulf towards the north.
Portoferraio is one of the island’s most ancient towns: its origins date back from the Ligurians, the Etruscans and the Greeks, before becoming a Roman colony called Fabricia.
The plan of Portoferraio, as we can admire it today, is due to the will of Cosimo I dei Medici who after changing the name to Cosmopoli, in 1548 also began the great defensive works.
In 1814, the city gave refuge to the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte. Other places of historical and cultural interest are the Romanesque Church of Santo Stefano alle Trane, the high-ground Etruscan Fortress of Castiglione, the International Art Center of Italo Bolano, the Pinacoteca Foresiana and the Botanical Garden at Ottone.
Also administrated by the Commune of Portoferraio is the San Giovanni Spa, as well as the villages of San Giovanni, Schiopparello, Magazzini, Ottone, Carpani, Bagnaia, San Martino, La Biodola, Viticcio and the Island of Montecristo.
Elba Island - Portoferraio
The Fortification
The Medicean fortification was designed by the architect Giovanni Battista Bellucci.
In one year, from 1548 to 1549, he built a stronghold made of three forts (Falcone, Stella, Linguella) connected together by solid and powerful walls.
From the ancient port, through the gate Porta a Terra, you may visit the three forts, named Forte del Falcone, Forte Stella and Forte della Linguella, by following, where still possible, the wall-walk that connects them.

Rio Marina
Rio Marina is situated on the eastern part of the island inside a small inlet surrounded by hills. These hills are characterized by a red earth which is due to iron oxide mining activity in the past.
In this area the iron oxide extraction took place as far back as the Etruscan period and was, together with fishing, the main activity of the Rio Marina inhabitants until just a few decades ago.
Today Rio Marina is a seaside resort with all the necessary facilities for its visitors. The autonomous Commune was established in 1882, when it was separated from Rio nell'Elba with which it still shares its history. From the port there are connections with the mainland, as an alternative to Portoferraio.
Places of historical and cultural interest are: the Church of San Rocco, the embattled tower in the port and the Mineral Park of the Island of Elba.
The district of the Commune of Rio Marina also includes the village of Cavo, which can also be reached on foot in order to also visit the charming Tonietti Mausoleum.
Other hamlets are Capo D'Arco, Ortano and Porticciolo.
Rio Marina also administrates the island of Palmaiola.

Rio nell'Elba
This village is perched on a hill at about 170 meters above sea level, on the northeast side of the Island of Elba.
It is among the most ancient villages of the island – its origins date from the Bronze Age – and preserves various traces of its past which include marine archeological finds.
Rio nell'Elba, famous for the iron mines that date back to the Etruscan period, was the most important mining center until the shut down of all the ore bodies.
There is a wide variety of minerals exhibited in the local museum, the Museo della Gente di Rio. Other places of historical and cultural interest are: the Volterraio Castle, the Parish Church of Santi Giacomo e Quirico, the Oratory of Santa Caterina and the Church of Santissima Trinità. The Islet of Cerboli is also administered by the Commune of Rio nell’Elba.

Marciana Marina
This ancient fishing village is the smallest commune in Tuscany and became autonomous in 1884 when it separated from Marciana Alta. It is arranged in a semicircle around an inlet on the northwest coast and its territory is limited to the coastal strip.
The small harbour, is a favourite destination for sailing enthusiasts. Moreover, since the beginning of the century, Marciana Marina has instructed an elite of sea captains who sail along all the routes of the Atlantic Ocean. In the period when the island was producing and exporting salt tuna, one of the two tuna fishing nets of the island was situated on this coast.

Marciana
Marciana is situated on the slopes of Mount Capanne on the west side of the Island of Elba at 375 meters above sea level. It is one of the most ancient settlements on the island, its foundations dating back to the year 35 BC.
The Archeology Museum in Marciana gives evidence to its very ancient past.
The vegetation is luxuriant: there are ilexes, pine-trees and chestnut trees, the cool, fresh climate giving this land a mountain atmosphere although the sea is only 5 kilometers away.
There are excursions to Mount Capanne on foot or with the cableway just outside the town.
Just 3 kilometers from Marciana is Poggio Terme; here there is a spring of water low in mineral content which has curative properties.
The Marciana area is covered with vineyards that produce an excellent wine.
Places of historical and cultural interest are: the Pisan Fortress, the Church of San Lorenzo, the Church of San Cerbone and the Sanctuary of Madonna del Monte.
The Commune of Marciana also administrates the hamlets of Procchio, Chiessi, Sant’Andrea, Patresi and Pomonte.

Campo nell'Elba
This small town is situated on the southernmost point and flattest area of the island, extending from the gulf of Lacona to Pomonte.

Marina di Campo
Once a fishing village spread adjacent to the wide sandy bay, today it is the main town of the Commune of Campo nell’Elba. Its beach, the longest on the island, is the one most frequented during the summer season.
A cylindrical tower rises on the western end of the bay of Marina di Campo and was built as a defensive system, probably during Pisan rule.
The Town Hall is situated at Marina di Campo, a seaside resort facing the bay bearing the same name. In the area there are many archeological finds giving evidence to the ancient settlements.
Today the area of Campo has excellent hotels and gives the tourist the possibility to choose between a social and lively holiday on the coast or a peacefully isolated stay in the hinterland.
Inside the Commune of Campo there is the La Pila Airport with connections to a few Italian and European cities. The communal district of Campo also includes Cavoli, Seccheto, Fetovaia and the Island of Pianosa.

Elba Island - Borgo di Sant'Ilario a Marina di CampoSant'Ilario
Sant’Ilario is situated in a hilly area 207 meters above sea level, with the gulf of Marina di Campo in front and the mountains behind. It is one of the most ancient and typical villages of the island.
At Sant'Ilario there is the Church of San Giovanni, the largest church on the island.
Along the road that leads to San Piero rises the Tower of San Giovanni in Campo, an important Pisan monument.

Capoliveri
Capoliveri is situated in the southeast of the Island of Elba, on a ridge of Mount Calamita, 167 meters above sea level.
Its name and origin date from the Roman period: Caput Liberi is Latin for Liberus’ Hill, meaning sacred to Bacchus, and since ancient times has been a land of vineyards and excellent wine.
Places of historical and cultural interest are: the Sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie, the Focardo Fortress and the Chapel of San Michele Apse.
The main centers inside the communal district of Capoliveri are: Lacona, Naregno, Lido, Pareti, Morcone, Innamorata and Cala Grande.

Porto Azzurro
Porto Azzurro was renamed in 1947 when it was allowed to change from its old name, Porto Longone, which identified it with the prison housed in the Longone Fortress. The small town opens onto the Gulf of Mola, the widest bay of the eastern Elba coast and has a well protected port in which ferry-boats and tourist boats regularly moor. This fishing and agricultural village is today a famous tourist resort.
Just a few kilometers from Porto Azzurro is ‘The Small Mine’ (Piccola Miniera), a reconstruction in reduced scale of a mine and of the life inside a mine.
Places of historical and cultural interest also are: the Sanctuary of Madonna del Monserrato and the Spanish Church of Cuore Immacolato di Maria.
Barbarossa and Mola are two important hamlets.

Elba Island - Rio MarinaRio Marina
Rio Marina is situated on the eastern part of the island inside a small inlet surrounded by hills. These hills are characterized by a red earth which is due to iron oxide mining activity in the past.
In this area the iron oxide extraction took place as far back as the Etruscan period and was, together with fishing, the main activity of the Rio Marina inhabitants until just a few decades ago.
Today Rio Marina is a seaside resort with all the necessary facilities for its visitors. The autonomous Commune was established in 1882, when it was separated from Rio nell'Elba with which it still shares its history. From the port there are connections with the mainland, as an alternative to Portoferraio.
Places of historical and cultural interest are: the Church of San Rocco, the embattled tower in the port and the Mineral Park of the Island of Elba.
The district of the Commune of Rio Marina also includes the village of Cavo, which can also be reached on foot in order to also visit the charming Tonietti Mausoleum.
Other hamlets are Capo D'Arco, Ortano and Porticciolo.
Rio Marina also administrates the island of Palmaiola.

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