Elba & Portoferraio Attractions
Boat servicesRegular services (including car ferries) run several times daily from Piombino to Portoferraio and between Livorno and Portoferraio.
In summer there are also hydrofoil services from Piombino and Livorno to Portoferraio.SituationThe island of Elba, the largest of the islands off Tuscany, lies in the Ligurian Sea 10km/6mi south of the mainland port of Piombino. Elba, 27km/17mi long, up to 18.5km/11mi wide, consists mainly of granite and porphyry, and has considerable deposits of high-quality iron ore, particularly in the eastern part of the island, with a metal content of 40-80%.Population and economyThe possession of the iron-mines of Elba enabled the Etruscans to assert their dominance in Italy, and the mines were later worked by the Romans. Together with the tuna and anchovy fisheries and agriculture (fruit, vines) the working of iron was one of the island's main sources of income until 1982 when it finally came to a halt, most of the sites being exhausted.Holiday resortElba's mild and equable climate, its great scenic beauty and the excellent conditions for scuba diving off its cliff-fringed coast have drawn increasing numbers of visitors to the island in recent years.HistoryElba belonged to Pisa from the 11th century onwards; then in 1284 it passed to Genoa, later to Lucca and in 1736 to Spain. After Napoleon's defeat in 1814 he was granted full sovereign rights over the island, and lived there from May third 1814 to February 26th 1815. Elba was returned to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany by the Congress of Vienna.
The chief place of the island, Portoferraio (10m/33ft; pop. 11,500), lies on a promontory on the west side of the entrance to a wide bay on the north coast. In the main street, Via Garibaldi, stands the Town Hall and a little way northeast, in Via Napoleone, the Misericordia church, in which a mass is said for Napoleon's soul on May fifth every year; it contains a reproduction of his coffin and a bronze cast of his death-mask. On the highest point in the town is the Piazza Napoleone, from which there are fine views. To the west rises Forte Falcone (79m/261ft), to the east, above the lighthouse, Forte Stella (48m/158ft), both originally built in 1548 and later completed by Napoleon. On the seaward side of the square is the simple Villa dei Molini, Napoleon's official residence, which contains his library.
Near the summer residence is a building which houses the Pinacoteca Foresiana, with works by Antonio Canova ("Galatea"), Guido Reni and Salvatore Rosa.
About 6km/4mi southwest of Portoferraio, set amid luxuriant vegetation on the slopes of the wooded Monte San Martino (370m/1,221ft), is situated the Villa Napoleone, the emperor's summer residence (fine views from terrace).
Address: Villa San Martino, I-57037 Elba, Italy
Opening hours: May 1 to Sep 30: 9am-7pm; Sun: 9am-1pm
Oct 1 to Dec 31: 9am-5pm; Sun: 9am-2pm
Oct 1 to Dec 31: 9am-5pm; Sun: 9am-2pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Round the Island
From here there is a cableway up Monte Capanne (1,019m/3,363ft), the island's highest peak (views).
About 4km/2.5mi inland is the fort of Poggio (359m/1,185ft), and 4km/2.5mi west of this the village of Marciana (375m/1,238ft; ruined castle), a summer resort surrounded by centuries-old chestnut trees.
From Poggio there is an attractive walk up Monte Perone (630m/2,079ft), to the southeast (1 hour).
Worth visiting is the charming mining village of Capoliveri, situated on a promontory in the southeast of the island.
On the east coast of the island of Elba is Rio Marina (pop. 2,500) with large open-cast iron workings.
Marina di Campo
On the lonely south coast is the popular seaside resort of Marina di Campo, finely situated in the Golfo di Campo.