Elba Island: Great Crossing of Elba
We are two couples, friends for some time now, and we have already traveled together.
When, during 2016, I suggested the idea of the Great Traverse of Elba (GTE), the consents were unanimous and enthusiastic.
The idea of crossing in all its length an island of renowned beauty, offering both mountain and sea landscapes, and consequently a very varied flora and fauna, seemed very attractive.
Our hopes were not only met, but largely exceeded.
We found amazing landscapes, suggestive places, excellent hospitality, delicious food, and given the spring season, a luxuriant nature, in full bloom.
The canonical path of the GTE would proceed from east to west, with the following stages: from Cavo to Porto Azzurro, from Porto Azzurro to Marina di Campo, from Marina di Campo to Poggio, from Poggio to Pomonte.
Our route was instead designed to travel from west to east, and more faithfully follow the mountain ridge that forms the island:
We have chosen to leave the car on the continent: on the island, only us and our backpack.
What is needed, therefore, is:
Beware the cartography: we have found out that it is not always accurate. Unfortunately, even the signage, for those used to alpine trails, is not always present, or at least it was not in 2016. The trekking-etc/viewer mobile app, with the itineraries of the individual stages downloadable for off-line use, is the ideal guide to easily follow the path.
After traveling from our city to Piombino, we leave the car at the garage, and we move to the harbor, where our small and agile hydrofoil is waiting for us:
We thus reach Portoferraio, where others have evidently chosen to travel bigger:
We have lunch in the island's capital, then we move to Pomonte by bus. We find a small but cozy and charming town.
We have time for a walk along the coast, among the rocks rounded by erosion, and the typical Mediterranean vegetation.
We start from Pomonte and go up along the ridge that delimits on the left the valley that goes down towards the town.
We pass various minor reliefs, including Monte Orlando, Monte Cenno, Colle della Grottaccia.
Here and there are stone shelters.
We head towards Le Filicaie, the pass that separates Monte Le Calanche from Monte Capanne,
From there we climb, mostly on rock, with the help of cables where necessary, towards the top:
We retrace our steps,
and we go down towards the opposite side of the island,
with a view on the coast.
The soil and vegetation vary continuously as the altitude decreases.
We reach Procchio, and have a brief visit to the town and the nearby beach.
As soon as we leave the inhabited area, when we enter the greenery, the landscape clearly reminds us that it is springtime.
We climb a strange path, carved by erosion.
A panoramic view opens up behind us.
Moving carefully through the dense network of paths, we reach Monte San Martino.
Among the many flower spots, the Cistus Albidus is a constant presence.
We admire the landscapes on the coast, including a beautiful view of Portoferraio.
We cross a cork forest.
We reach the top of Mount Orello, in a mystical atmosphere,
and we walk among flowering bushes.
We see the part of the ridge on which we will walk the next day.
We spot the bay that lays not far from our goal of the day,
while others are busy in a very different activity.
We reach the agriturismo, where we immediately feel welcome.
A visit to the beach offers us, in addition to the sea view,
a glimpse of the Volterraio Castle.
The exquisite dinner, based on local delicacies, and the amiable conversation with the owners of the agritourism, conclude this day in an extremely pleasant way.
After a truly rejuvenating breakfast, we leave, and we are immediately immersed in nature.
We enter the beautiful hilly landscape, with its gentle ups and downs,
and the striking visuals,
and we rise along the ridge, which culminates on Cima del Monte. Along the subsequent descent, to our left, the panorama is dominated by the Castello del Volterraio.
Further away, one can still see the bay of Portoferraio.
Finally we approach Rio nell'Elba, a charming and small village, lying on the slopes that descend to the sea.
We go down along the picturesque streets,
until we reach the ranch where we will stay for the night.
We receive a very warm welcome. The myrtle liquor produced personally by the owner is a real pleasure for the palate, and we entertain ourselves pleasantly with him, a non-native inhabitant, while he tells us about the charm and pleasure of life on the island.
We leave, after a rich breakfast,
and we soon discover the origin of the toponym of the town.
The abundance of water has always been considered a of great importance for our land, subject to long periods of drought during the summer. "Rio" takes its name from the "rivus" generated by this source, exploited by our ancestors, mine workers and also farmers...
We go up the narrow streets,
and beyond the roofs of the houses and the bell tower of the church, the gaze stretches out towards the sea, over to the continent.
The Castello del Volterraio is clearer to our eyes today,
the sky is almost clear,
and the views are even more exciting.
Walking through the hills, in a pleasant up and down,
overlooking the sea, often on both sides of the island,
we admire the suggestive bays, the crystal clear water,
and the territory, always enchanting.
We have long since passed Monte Strega, and we reach the second elevation of the stage, Monte Grosso, and the characteristic ruin called Semaforo .
We continue our journey in the direction of Cavo.
A long diversion in the forest above the coast leads us to discover the strange and particular Tonietti Mausoleum.
Finally, after loosing altitude, we reach the coast.
A walk to the marina,
and the color of the rocks illuminated by the light of the sunset, give us the last suggestive glimpses of this splendid day, which perfectly seals our wonderful crossing.
It is easy to reach Porto Azzurro, from Cavo, by public transport. The place appears immediately very suggestive, with the blue of its sea,
and with an intense scent of jasmine.
With a relatively short stretch of walk (we are used to much more!), we reach the Barbarossa Beach.
After a swim in the sea, I leave my place on the beach vacant,
and I rise along the panoramic Passeggiata Carmignani.
Once back on the beach, I convince the ladies to follow me along the beautiful path,
that brings us back to Porto Azzurro,
and the scent of jasmine.
After this relaxing and pleasant day, we are ready for another night of rest, and for the return home, the day after.
■ gb, 2016-05-17