Well you must know about it…Before it is too late.
So, Pull out your map of Italy. Right now.
Find Tuscany and put your finger on the town of Sienna. Now run your finger West until you see a tiny seaside town called Piombino. Across the Ligurian Sea is the pint size island of Elba–Isola d’ Elba. You might miss it so look closely.
Recommended to us by my husband’s Italian friend, Isola d’ Elba, part of the Tuscan Archipelago, was a standout in our Italian adventure. Imagine the colorful hill towns of Tuscany set into rising craggy cliffs staring down upon waters as clear as the Caribbean, white sailboats glistening in the distance.
Though it is famed for once harboring Napolean in 1818, it didn’t even make my Italian guide book and for that I am grateful. I didn’t hear a single word of English being spoken by a tourist. My husband said that Cinque Terre was that way twenty years ago and on this trip it was overrun by tourists hustling to be the first in line onto the train there.
So what I am trying to say is that the secret will soon be out. So, go to Elba when it is still magical.
When it is still Italian through and through.
Getting there is a breeze. Book a ferry online at www.mobylines.com and choose the Piombino Portoferraio route with the car option, as you will definitely want a car to explore the island. If you get to the dock earlier than your scheduled ferry it is not a problem to board as long as there is space.
The ferry itself provided one of the most picturesque views I have seen in my life and with a frothy cappuccino in hand and a perfect sea breeze in my hair and I would have ridden the ferry twice.
Once on Elba, we stayed at the Hotel Desiree and though it was a bit pricey by American standards, I definitely recommend it as the place to stay on Elba. The hotel is located very conveniently from the ferry dock which is important as the driving on Elba is not for the faint of heart.Ask for a corner room with a balcony and breathe in the salty air and listen to the waves crashing while you drift off to sleep. Their private beach is steps from the hotel and is lined with beach chairs calling your name…
The most magical part of Hotel Desiree, however, is out of eye sight. Facing the water, walk out left onto the beach and look up onto the rock formation for the tiny path lined by trees where you will begin a short hike.
You will soon be alone on a mass of rocks jutting over crashing turquoise waters. No picture does it justice. On this rock the sunshine on my face, my mind cleared, I felt the power of nature, the presence of God…at peace. If you can’t read between the lines, I’d like to bottle that perfect spot and take it home with me.
It would be easy to just park it at the Hotel Desiree and a call it a day, but don’t. Grab a map from the friendly front desk staff and set out on adventure. Cliff-hugging roads circle the island, every one offering jaw-dropping majestic views. Bring your suit and stop at a little beach town along the way. Have your camera in hand, as every few miles you will want to pull over for a picture.
End the night chugging up the mountains to the most magical town I have ever encountered-Capoliveri.
It’s funny the way life cycles, isn’t it? Many, many moons ago I had an obsession with cooking Mediterranean food and I kept a Bon Appetit from this phase and was glancing through it (don’t ask why) before we left for our trip. Ironically I found an article about Capoliveri and how it was undiscovered and yet not to be missed. Of course they mentioned the ‘to die for’ food. I tugged on Andy’s shirt until he begrudgingly agreed to make the 40 minute drive. It was worth it -every hair raising turn. High up in the mountains with crumbling colorful Tuscan buildings, Capoliveri is the ultimate picturesque Italian seaside village.
The food –and gelato were more than memorable, but it was the snapshot of everyday Italian life in the plaza that won me over. Children casually danced and sang on a makeshift stage, giggling. Their parents crowded around a long table sipping wine and laughing, mouths open. People strolled hand in hand. I didn’t catch sight of a single smart phone and I longingly imagined transporting my boys to this village and the seemingly perfect simplistic life we could lead. It’s probably a good thing my husband is the pragmatic sensible voice over my adventure seeking one or we might be packing as we speak…
I think Elba is calling you as well. Listen….
Salute y Buon Viaggio,