Trekking on Elba
The Island of Elba is known mainly for the natural beauty of the coastal area with the famous beaches and the crystal clear waters of the sea.
Tourists, however, have also learned to greatly appreciate the hinterland of the island which hides itineraries completely immersed in the green of the Mediterranean scrub and which often lead to breathtaking views.
For those who love trekking, the itineraries of the Island of Elba become an unmissable stop: in fact, just think that there is no other island of such small size that hosts a mountain like Monte Capanne, which exceeds 1000 meters above sea level and which therefore allows, walking a few kilometers on foot, to pass from the sea to the mountains and vice versa.
Furthermore, for those interested in getting to know the island from a historical and naturalistic point of view, there is nothing better than walking it, as Elba is dotted with Medici and Spanish fortresses, Roman villas, Etruscan ovens and Pisan towers, all immersed in the extraordinary beauty of the landscape.
Another positive aspect of trekking on Elba is that it is suitable for everyone, with simpler paths, also appropriate for those who are at their first hiking experiences and other more demanding ones, such as the "Great Elban Crossing", an itinerary that crosses the whole island.
Let's now see the most beautiful and well-known itineraries on the island!
Health Path (Portoferraio)
Biodola beach, along the sea, a path of about an hour with a wonderful view allows you to reach the beach of Procchio: it is the "Path of health", a promenade that offers enchanting views. The route is suitable for everyone, even for families with children, as it almost always remains in the shade of the trees and there is the possibility of stopping at several points.
Access to the path is on the left side of the Biodola beach, taking the stretch of path directly on the rocks and passing a small gate (attention: in winter it may be closed!).
The initial part of the route is flat and overlooking the rocks, with a wonderful view that can also be admired by stopping for a few moments on the benches along the path. The walk continues through a tunnel in the rock (illuminated by the various openings), dug during the Second World War, to then arrive, keeping to the right at the crossroads, to the two quiet and small beaches, first of the Lamaia and then that of the Porticciolo.
It is impossible to resist diving into the clear water of this stretch of coast, which remains mostly deserted as the only access is this path or by boat.
After the Porticciolo beach, the road, in this asphalted stretch, continues between some houses and going down a few steps reaches the Guardiola beach. From here, crossing the rocks you reach the Procchio beach.
Length: about 3 km - Travel time: about 1 hour - Difficulty: easy
Itinerary Capo Enfola (Portoferraio)
Capo Enfola is a place of great historical and landscape interest. Morphologically, the Cape divides the north coast of Portoferraio, characterized by small white pebble coves, the stony Gulf of Viticcio and the long sandy beaches of Biodola and Procchio.
Capo Enfola can be reached by driving to the adjacent Enfola beach where there is a small parking area: the beach can be reached by following the provincial road n.27, which, starting from Portoferraio, ends right on the Isthmus of Enfola.
Leaving the car in the square, we find ourselves with the sea both on the right and on the left and therefore two dark pebble beaches; opposite is Monte Enfola, which indicates the direction. In fact, on its slopes, on the left, we find an old Tonnara (tuna fishery) restored by the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and a little further on the itinerary for the Cape begins.
The path begins to climb along a carriage road, closed to traffic by a bar, which runs along Mount Enfola and is immersed in the Mediterranean scrub. Climbing a few hundred meters, the route plunges into a myriad of scents: they are the bushes of rosemary, myrtle, broom, holm oaks, mastic trees and strawberry trees that thrive here. Continuing to climb the side of the Mount, splendid panoramas open up: towards the south-west we can observe the Gulf of Viticcio and the entire coastal stretch up to the village of Marciana Marina, dominated by the village of Poggio and the majesty of Monte Capanne. Towards the north-east, we see the cliffs of Portoferraio, the Canale di Piombino and the mainland.
Continuing the climb, you come across the remains of the defensive fortifications dating back to the world wars. A little further on there is a panoramic point with some "stools" made of stone or pine logs.
Passing further, the road begins to be dug into the rock and ends the carriage section; here begins the path that goes around the top of Mount Enfola, marked by the classic red and white signs.
Proceeding, the path passes near other ruins of the military complex, a grove of Phoenician juniper and begins to descend towards the fork for Capo d'Enfola. From there, you can choose: either to finish the route by continuing on the path that leads back to the starting point, or to take the path that leads to the extreme tip of the promontory: Capo d'Enfola. In this last part of the route you need to be more careful because the descent becomes steeper and often, especially out of season, the rock is covered with moss and lichens which make it very slippery.
The path then leads to an open space scattered with small plants and shrubs and, a short distance away, a colony of herring gulls, not to be disturbed especially if they have nests and chicks.
The route ends at the tip of the promontory, from where you can enjoy a splendid view of the sea and the rock located in front of the tip, called the "ship".
Path length: 2.5 km. 3 km if you arrive at Capo Enfola.
Uphill difference in height: 220 m.
Average travel time: 2 hours and 30 min.
Difficulty: medium-easy => short route with good ground and medium elevation gain.
Equipment: comfortable clothing, binoculars
Itinerary of the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Monte (Marciana)
The itinerary starts from the village of Marciana, a small hilltop village located on a promontory (shaped like an arrowhead).
It is possible to park in front of the fortress of Marciana from where you can already enjoy a wonderful view. You must then descend along the road for 50 m before meeting a small road on the left, well marked by special signs, which climbs up to the Sanctuary.
Having taken the path and past the first stretch in the midst of splendid centuries-old chestnut trees, you find yourself in a small pitch with the statue of an angel and, proceeding on the path, on the right ridge, you can see animal-like rocks, the so-called Monsters of Stone.
After about an hour's walk, the path, which winds alongside the 14 chapels with scenes from the Via Crucis, reaches the Sanctuary, located on a terrace, equipped with benches, tables and a fountain. The hermitage, located on the left, is the place where it is said that Napoleon, during his exile, spent a few days in the company of his Polish lover Maria Walewska.
From the Madonna del Monte, it is possible to continue for other paths immersed in the Mediterranean scrub, such as the one that leads to the villages of Chiessi and Pomonte.
Path length: 4 km.
Altitude difference: 160 m.
Journey time: 1 hour
Equipment: comfortable clothing, closed shoes.
Visit to the Volterraio Castle (Rio Elba)
The Volterraio castle is the oldest fortification on the Island of Elba and, located on the mountains that divide the village of Rio nell'Elba from the plains of Magazzini and Bagnaia, it can also be admired from the ferry arriving in Portoferraio.
The castle has Etruscan origins and was enlarged in 1281 by the Maritime Republic of Pisa for defensive purposes. In 1400 it was further strengthened and used as a refuge from the incursions of Turkish pirates who never managed to conquer it.
Precisely because of its inviolability, the castle remains a place very dear to the Elban historical tradition and even today, thanks to its strategic position, it seems to watch over the whole of Elba Island. The castle became the property of the Tuscan Archipelago Park in 1999 but only in 2013 were the funds available to restore it.
The restoration ended in 2017 with the safety of the fortress and the architectural elements inside, such as the tower with walkway and the chapel. The path that leads from the road below to the castle itself has also been improved and repaired.
To reach it, starting from Portoferraio, you must follow the provincial road towards Porto Azzurro, after 6 km turn left to Bagnaia-Magazzini and finally, after 1.5 km, follow the signs for Rio nell'Elba turning right. It is necessary to be very careful in this last stretch, the one that from Bagnaia-Magazzini climbs towards Rio nell'Elba because the road is very steep and with tight curves. At a certain point on the left, there is an open space where you can park and 50 m later the path begins to reach the castle.
Since Volterraio is owned by the Tuscan Archipelago Park, there are several ways to visit::
- Guided tour of the Fortress. Rates: € 20 full; € 10 reduced for over 65s and residents of the Tuscan islands; € 5 reduced for residents over 65; free for children 0-12 years, students up to 19 years and disabled. The price includes round trip transport, trekking, admission and a visit with the Park Guide.
- Guided tour of the Fortress, combined with a visit to the Roman Villa delle Grotte. Rates: € 30 full; 20 € reduced over 65 and residents of the Tuscan islands; reduced 10 € residents over 65; free for children 0-12 years, resident students up to 19 years, disabled. The price includes round trip transport, entrance and visit to the two sites with a Park Guide.
- Trekking in autonomy and entrance to the Fortress with the help of a guide. Rates: € 8 single rate for admission to the Fortress.
Once you get to the castle, the effort of the climb is rewarded by the magnificent 360-degree panorama that sweeps across the island.
Path length: 700 m
Difference in height: 170 m
Average travel time: 30 min. The visit lasts longer because the guide stops for explanations along the way.
Equipment: comfortable clothing, closed shoes suitable for rough terrain
How to book a visit: Park Toscano Info Office, tel. +39 0565908231