Elba Island in the Tuscan Archipelago is some 224 m2 in extent, and approximately 10 kilometres from the Italian west coast. It is the last remaining portion of a land bridge that once connected it to Corsica 50 kilometres further out to sea. Easy access to explore Elba Island is by four ferry companies, and flights from Switzerland and the mainland.
Explore Elba Island in the Tuscan Archipelago
Small Fishing Harbour on Elba
Cyclists arrive by ferry load each summer to explore the varied terrain. On occasions, they may spot Mouflon wild sheep with huge curved horns, and wild boar best left alone. The larger towns are mainly on a central plateau. The highest point is Monte Capanne rising to 1018 meters and popular among hikers.
High Up on Monte Capanne
The Mediterranean climate ensures mild, pleasant summers, although in winter the temperature can fall as low as −7.4C (-18.7F) with a mean of 5.3 C (18.7F) in January. In the cooler season, the 30,000 permanent inhabitants tend their vineyards and prepare for the next influx of tourists from Tuscany. Elba is an island at peace with itself, isolated from the dubious benefits of city life by a 10-kilometre stretch of water.
Quiet Back Street in Elba Village
Things were not always quite so peaceful though. The island occupies a strategic position, and exchanged ownership several times. In 1544, the Barbary Pirates largely destroyed the infrastructure in their quest for slaves. After a quarrelsome period, it became a French possession in 1802. Elba reunited with Italy in 1860.
Napoleon Trod the Streets of Elba
Elba’s most famous inhabitant was probably Emperor Napoleon 1st. He ruled it benevolently for 300 days before escaping on a ship, surrendering at the Battle of Waterloo, and retiring to Saint Helena Island. Elba is a place for active holidaymakers keen to explore the place by bicycle or foot. Protein from the sea is best washed down a by a glass of local wine following shopping therapy.