August 03, 2018
INTROI am writing now from Porto Ferraio's public library right from the middle of my visit time on Isola d'Elba.The mornings of the island are quite silent and empty with people. I already experienced some of them and I think it's incredible how such a large number of people is behaving all the same.Lucky me then, who I am exploring squares and beaches in the solitary glory of the morning sun.I came at Isola d'Elba for visiting my dearest friend Irene. Together with her and her friends and family I got to be closer to the real life of the island which is for sure more than wild, gipsy, in a veeery close contact with nature as much as washing in the sea, sleeping on the beach and so on..!I do this since years and this time I decided to first take a relaxing week-end off the grid with Giacomo, my boyfriend, as this little island-gem is so stunning, and those 2 hours and a half travel from Florence definetly worth it.
I collected a few suggestions and tip about Elba, that is why I decided to put together a week-end guide for a nature contact holiday inspired by all of my numerous trips here.
To reach Piombino harbourThe easiest way to get to the island is the ferry connection Piombino-Porto Ferraio. That's the most beaten track and you can reach Piombino harbour both by car and by train.
CAR -There are several payment parking around the harbour (not sure they are all guarded), but if you are okay with 10-15 minutes walking you can also take a look to the residential area which you'll neccessarily cross to reach the harbour.TRAIN- If you are on foot or by bike the train will carry you directly in front of the docks! The train station is called Piombino Marittima. In this station there is also a ticket machine or an often-open ticket office, and there you can directly get the ticket for your coming back trip. That's usefull to know if you are not sure about the excactly time or if, on your way back, the ship is gettind delayed. The ticket trains are referred to a specific time and day, so I'd prefere to make it on the moment. This is the web-site for trains: www.trenitalia.com
BLABLACAR- This is the most known italian car pooling. I have used it several times now and I'd say it's a funny, fast, cheap, comfy way to travel. What's more you get to know new people(most likely locals) and maybe find out something interesting about your trip. They have a free app(best booking way), and also this is their website: www.blablacar.it FERRY SERVICE – I didn't find a company which is better than the other. They are Moby, Toremar, Blunavy and Ferries. The prices are more or less the same, so you will decide mainly on the time you need to leave. The comfy of the ferry changes with the various kind of ships they have. I would say that in years I had the best travels with Toremar. The earliest you book the cheapest they are.
BLU NAVY www.blunavytraghetti.com
ELBA FERRIES www.elba-ferries.it
Transportation on the Island
You must be well aware that on the island you need something to move for sure. There are busses going from beach to beach in summer, but unless you stay in a village, you can't only rely on them. Without a transportation you won't have access to the night life and you'll have limited possibilites. Also, the island has feasts and night markets along all its villages in summer, and you need to pay a visit to more than one! They are just so chilled, colourfull, flowered and alive!Another reason why you want to be indipendent with your own transportation is that there are lots of hidden and small rock beaches that you might miss if you count on the busses only.The best way to move here is for sure a scooter. It can have the same or less renting-cost than carring your car on the island by ferry. Beaches are always a problem with the car-parking as they basically don't exist or are only a few - the island is small and there is no car space for all the summer visitors. What's more, the less smart administrators of the island think to greet all of the tourists (the reason why all elba inhabitants can earn and survive) with a good dose of penalties every summer!RENT A SCOOTER - To avoid all the inconvenients with a car, you can rent a 3 days scooter which will cost around 140€ total. In Porto Ferraio all the scooter rents are in front(or about) of the pier 6. Take note: you really should consider to get a 125 cc scooter as you can easily find dirt and messy roads, and for sure lots of rises. We were two people with two backpacks and a 50cc wouldn't have make it ! Also prices from 50 to 125cc have small differences (around 20€ total difference).Notice: it would be better to book the scooter weeks in advance as when we arrived almost all of them were taken.TWN rent, Elbarent and Chiappi Rent are the three options of Porto Ferraio, all in the range of 20 mt about pier 6. We rented ours at Elba Rent because it was the firs available. Prices are kind of the same or really similar for all three. Also in all of them we found welcoming and nice people.The scooter will give you the freedom you need to experience the real life of Elba!
You must know that in august most of the italians are on their annual leave as for our culture the August Holidays at the beach are a must (or someone may say some kind of a ritual!). This means empty cities and crowded beaches. It comes along that august is the worst period to go to a sea-side holiday.
The best periods in terms of quantity of people and good weather are may-june and september. As you skip the national holidays (1st may, 2nd june) you are going to find the better conditions of the whole year.
Also in Italy school starts in the first or second week of september, that's why all the families already ended up their holidays in august and september turns to be another very good month, especially beacuse the sea has been warmed up the whole summer and the water it's just perfect (in may it could be a little bit colder).
Also the pricing reaches its top at august-july-, then it lowers in june and sept, and even more in april and october.
I also went in Elba in october once, and it was amazing! Definetly empty, with amazing nature autumn colours. With good weather I still had the chance to have a bath in the sea and I enjoyed it a lot. Same thing for April. It depends much on the weather but it's definetly something I would consider.
I was invited from Tenuta la Mandolaia to stay at their house. It looked like a very nice place from the pics but nothing compared with the beauty of its reality!As to me Elba means basically WYF (Wild Young and Free,eheh ) I accepted straight away the Mandolaia invitation. This is a small complex of five houses deep in the peacefull nature up the woods of Porto Azzurro(a village 20 minutes away from Porto Ferraio's port).It takes a couple of km of dirt road to reach it, and while arising the hills, the surrounding becomes soon more quiete, serene and country-like. I won't repeat enough how scented is the air of this island, and right at LA MANDOLAIA we have such a deep and good dose of aromas variety.After a whole day at the beach, coming home salty, dirty and happily tired it is so relaxing to be welcomed by that terrace and that Sea and Mountains landscape, into full privacy and silence.I am priviledged to live in Tuscany and have all sorts of nature variety so close to home.I want to feel like a wise visitor, not only a tourist. Get close to every place's way of living and experience the authentic nature around, learn its rythms.I felt like the Tenuta La Mandolaia team completly understood me. For nature lovers, landscape seekers, those who value slow time, understand the beauty of having an own home away from home and arranging dinner, going to supermarkets like locals and not being surrounded by lots of people all the time- I can say this is The place in Elba! A hidden gem I hope to be back on my next visit.
Tenuta La Mandolaia: www.lamandolaia.it
Personally a sea-holiday means seafood and here there's a high risk to find some very good ones..!What I love is to meet people and locals by chance.. of course you can't plan it, but when it happens it's always rewarding!That occurred in Porto Azzurro on our first day, we needed to go to a new beach and didn't really find it on the map. So we stopped to a random restaurant to ask for informations and the guys were so helpful and kind. While the waiter was giving a phone call to his collegue to help us with the road(!) I noticed the cute place I went in. A little harbour restaurnat right on the sea, all in blue and white stripes theme, with wooden details. I couldn't stop in a better place for infos and that's where we planned to have our lunch the very next day!
It is called LA LANTERNA and it is that kind of Restaurant where to eat the real Traditional, refined and genuine italian sea food! At the moment in Tuscany the type of restaurants could be resumed in two main ones: the modern ones with high quality food but often way out of tradition, the typicals and locals which lowered their quality and service to follow the masses of tourists. La Lanterna is like none of them but it is a typical good restaurant just like once! Excellent quality and 100% typical italian, with tasty good portions.I am double happy to suggest them as we got to know that Marco and Alessandro opened just since 3 weeks and they are bringing back to life what was a dismissed but beautiful historical local right on the sea!They are the kindest and deserve a well worthed success!
Check them here: https://www.facebook.com/LaLanternaPortoAzzurro/
or here: https://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g194855-d14893142-Reviews-La_Lanterna-Porto_Azzurro_Elba_Island_Province_of_Livorno_Tuscany.html
Nearby Porto azzurro is Capoliveri town. The little village is up on a hill, where you can see the greatest landscape. This is the village to be at night, so rich in that mediterrean night life which let you feel part of a big chilled party.
If I were you I would go there one evening and book a table at LA LAMPARA (funny that we went in 2 restaurants and both are named 'lamp'!!).This place is a bit more rustic in its interior, as with plastic chairs like. Despite this the atmosphere is absolutely fine and so is the food. Maybe a slightly-slightly less quality than La Lanterna, but with the best Prices of all Capoliveri, really amazing food and kindest staff. Don't hope to find a table if you haven't booked before! From 7 to 11 they have a queue in front of the main door, this is the most appreciated restaurant of the whole town.
Check it here: https://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g194711-d1475235-Reviews-La_Lampara-Capoliveri_Elba_Island_Province_of_Livorno_Tuscany.html
Beach foodIn every direction you go, to whatever beach you will be at, you are going to see the street fruit markets for sure. They are generally from people who grow the most of their products on the Island, and that's another good way to meet some local high quality food.
The rock beach of Sant' Andrea is on the other side of the island respect to Porto Ferraio, and I can say that's my favorite of all times.
The rest of my selection is all very close one another, but I had to add this one too.The main reason to come here is the smerald colour of the water. It's really a deep green and blue colour and it feels great to jump into it.Remember to bring some more towels as that kind of rock is quite hard and full of small stones which aren't a blessing for you bones!A small supermarket is around and also bars and restaurants.
I made the best memories into that amazing water!
This beach is in the area of Porto Ferraio and it's one of the most famous of the Island equal it's one of the busiest. Despite this the trick is that it is composed of two-three coves and if you reach the very last one you'll find a very good and often solitary stone beach. To get till the very last cove you necessarily need to walk a few meters into the sea. Even in the high season days that one can be a very good spot!
Capo BiancoThe name is very poetic in my opinion and it recalls the white stones of this side of the coast. Still very close Padulella beach and Prunini this is a very busy beach, to be enjoyed in the first hours of the morning.
Up the beach there is a bar which is perfect for lunch, with white chairs and tables right above the sea-landscape. Also you find a small beach club.
PadulellaSo close to Capo Bianco, the little narrow street which leads to this beach is really not visible. That's the reason why it could be less crowded than Capo Bianco.
Padulella has a small beach club and a free area. Remember to carry a mask with you as every place with rocks means a lot of sea life!
PruniniThe alley to get to this beach is really nice and it separates the seaside from the street noises thanks to a good number of stairs!It's shape it's really like a crib, and I always link it to the good base for good tales.
The parkings here are really limited and it is one of those beaches you'll be glad to have a scooter.
October 24, 2018
Thank you very very much for your kind feedback!
October 10, 2018
It’s amazing how complete this guide is! Thanks for taking the time to share all of this valuable information! The pictures were are gorgeous too!
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October 20, 2019
Peacefull observer of sunrise and lands waking up. Counting the grapes in the vineyards; saying hi to the animals running down below, having sneak peak in farms and villa like only a bird would do.
All this is Tuscany from a hot-air balloon. The very best way to overlook this amazing land!
September 22, 2019
An accurate description of my latest choices regarding Florence's Typical Restaurants!
In summer 2019 I discovered Trattoria Il Trebbio and Osteria Belle Donne a few steps away from Florence main train station in full city center.
August 13, 2019