Elba Island, Italy Travel Guide, History, Transportation and Tourism Information
12km off the coast at Piombino is the third largest island in Italy, Elba. It’s much smaller than Sicily or Sardinia, so while it has a tall mountainous interior speckled with ancient mining villages, you are never far away from the sea. Its modest sandy beaches are interspersed with coast fishing and port town.
Elba is a proletarian resort, visited mainly by middle-class Italian families and German tourists, who together fill just about every available inch of hotel and camping space in August and September. What Elba lacks in the glamour department, it makes up for in variety.
Elba’s capital and chief port is Portoferraio. You can travel here from Piombino by either ferry or hydrofoil, which ply these waters several times a day. Alternately you could also take a ferry or hydrofoil to the northeastern settlement of Cavo. You one-way ferry ticket and one-way hydrofoil ticket will cost 7.54€ (extra for bringing you car along) and 9.84€ respectively.
If you’re ferrying your car across the sea, the roads in Elba are good and it is not too difficult to drive here. Alternately you can rent a car from Hertz (Viale Elba 4), Maggiore (Calata Italia 8) or Happy Rent (Viale Elba 5).
Rent scooters and bikes from BW's Racing (Via Manganaro 15) or Two Wheels Network (Viale Elba 32). Scooters cost 38€-49€ a day and bikes 8€ upwards.
Elba has a good bus service and the starting point is at Viale Elba 20 in Portoferraio. These buses travel to all regions of the island and the drivers will drop you off where you want. These buses operate between 8am and 8pm in summer and between 7:40am and 1:20pm and again from 4pm to 6:05pm during winter.
The island’s main tourist information office is on Calata Italia 26. It is open Mon-Sat 8am-2pm and 3-6pm. If you want help finding a hotel contact Associazione Albergatori Isola d'Elba, Calata Italia 20. They are open all day Monday to Friday and half day on Saturdays.
Settlers flocked to the ancient island of Elba to make a living mining. The Greeks came first in the 10th century BC, followed by the Etruscans and then the Romans. The iron mined here was used mainly to make swords. This prosperous island was invaded by pirated several time and was under alternate Spanish and Italian rule in the 18th century. Today, three millenniums after the first settlers the mines are empty with the last one being shut in 1984. The most famous inhabitant of the island was Napoléon Bonaparte. He was exiled to the island and became its governor until he left to wage the Hundred Days war. Two villas and several mementos owned by him are still preserved here.
Festivals & Markets
Historical events sporting competitions, concerts and fairs fill the island’s social calendar. Many national and international Sailing Regatas are held here every year. Elba’s mining history is highlighted during "The Earth's Treasures" market-fair. There is another Historic Rally during which there is a long and elaborate parade of classic cars through the streets of the island. The prestigious " Island of Elba-Raffaello Brignetti" literary prize is given away each year. There is also a wine festival in July and August each year. For more details on any of the events or for a complete social calendar contact the town Council.
If camping is your thing, you’ll find plenty of opportunities on the island. But before you pitch tent, ask at the tourist office for a catalog of campgrounds as you can’t pitch your tent everywhere.