YOU ALWAYS LEARN SOMETHING WHEN SAILING IN FOREIGN PLACES!
All these wonderful destinations that we are so privileged to visit have fascinating attractions that we can discover during our flotillas.
Take, the island of Elba for instance, one of the gems of the Tuscan coast of Italy and one of our favorite places to sail.
Elba is nothing short of spectacular. Beautiful ports each with their own interesting history, crystalline waters, gorgeous nature, this place has it all.
Etruscan, Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans and many others have left their imprint on Elba’s history. During the antiquity, the Etruscan and Romans mined the iron ore on the island. Later on in history, Elba was governed by the Republic of Pisa, the Republic of Genoa, Spain, even France and Britain.
Its main claim to fame was that Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled there after he lost the Battle of Leipzig. During his short stay there, he even designed the flag of the island, featuring his personal symbol, the bee.
In my humble opinion, he should have stayed on Elba. He had a nice house assigned to him in Portoferraio and could have had a quiet retirement but he decided to return to France and got eventually clobbered in Waterloo. I am sure that his final exile on the island of St. Helena, where he died, was not as agreeable as on Elba.
Portoferraio, is a lovely city with interesting museums and many restaurants that serve delicious authentic local cuisine. An impressive fortress protects the entrance to the municipal marina.
Porto Azzurro is another attractive port with a very nice marina in the Golfo di Mora. It is protected by two fortresses built by the Spaniards. One that is still used as a jail today was built on the same blueprints as the citadel of my native city, Antwerp in Belgium. Unfortunately, the one in Antwerp does not exist anymore. The waterfront along the port is home to plenty of good restaurants but the visitor should also go discover the charming inner city. Don’t forget to stop at Zero Gradi on the main square facing the port. You will enjoy some of the best gelato in Italy.
Another interesting place is Marciana Marina on the north side of the island. It boasts a large fortified tower in the well protected port and, like Porto Azzurro, has a pleasant center of the city with excellent restaurants.
When we dock our yachts in Marciana Marina with our flotillas, we make it a point to go into the mountains to the old city of Marciana which dates back to the Romans. It is definitely worth a visit. From there it is a short hike to the cable lift to Monte Capanne, the highest point of Elba 1,019 meters above sea level. What a view from up there!
Elba has so much more to offer, like beautiful beaches and resorts that will welcome sun worshipers for a relaxing vacation but, as far as I am concerned, a sailing trip offers the best perspective to discover this wonderful place in the Mediterranean.
For more information on how to join a sailing flotilla to Elba, contact us at email@example.com
Fair Winds and Happy Travels!
Capt Jean De Keyser