Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Islands of the Tuscan Coast – Isola d’Elba

The Island of Elba is the third largest Island of Italy. It is located about 10 km off the Tuscan shores in an area of 600 km of sea that makes up part of the National Park of the Arcipelago Toscano. Italian Wine Guy reminisced about times past, hiking in the Italian countryside, and living the Italian lifestyle away from the major tourist destinations. Isola d’Elba is one of those locations that foreign tourists will most likely never see. Italians love Island of Elba for its simpler environment, the beach and the sun.

The Island of Elba has been a favorite destination since before the Roman Empire. The crystal clear waters and florid forests make this island a patch of greenery in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. It became one of my favorite spots during my sailing days. One of my favorite trips was the “traversata”. The traversata is a trip from Livorno to Sardegna. The traversata is a marvelously relaxing trip. The islands just of the Tuscan coast were a great first stop for lunch even though just an hour into the voyage.

I learned that the island produces several local young wines. Two whites, two reds and sweet wine are part of the local arsenal. I cannot think of any one great restaurant because everywhere we ate was fantastic. The foods seemed to explode with flavor and while I am not a big fan of young wines, the balance was perfect. There are numerous Agriturismo in just about every port and are great place to get away from it all for a week or so. The hotels, outside of the month of August, are reasonably priced and the service is excellent.

The island’s popularity is increasing. This has had a negative impact on the vineyards as many farmers have let their vines go dedicating their resources to the tourist. The vineyards are sculpted into the hills and can be very difficult to work. These vineyards are not accessible with modern machinery so if you have the opportunity to stay at an Agriturismo with a vineyard plan on spending a day or two working the vines. It will create an appreciation for the art of winemaking.

If you do not have a local contact a great Agriturismo is Montefabrello just outside Portoferraio. The primary residence was built in the early 1900s and recently restructured with most of the modern comforts. Each room has a small kitchen even though the rates are “all inclusive” and the family run Agriturismo offers some very good regional dishes. They have several vineyards and will serve the house wines with local plates. For those who want to try some golf there is a truly unique 9 hole course within a couple of miles. The views are spectacular.


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Blogger Lexcen said...

I always thought that Napoleon was exiled to Elba as punishment. I was very wrong on that score because Elba looks more like paradise.

2:36 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Lexcen One man's castle is another man's prison...

I am with you on!

7:20 AM

Blogger Jim Belshaw said...

Lexcen, you captured my thought exactly!

1:56 PM

Blogger RennyBA said...

What a lovely Island and how great to read your descriptions in all its details.

Sorry they change vines for tourist though as they loss their uniqueness.

Wishing you a great weekend:-)

7:47 AM

Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Beautiful waters! The place seems to have it all.

10:26 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Jim perhaps we should take over Europe and see if they can exile us there as well.

Renny unfortunately there are always cyclical contractions and expansions. I think it is the way of holding on to the good and letting go the less important things. Over time it always seems to work out.

ChickyBabe A very nice place but as with most Islands it does have its difficulties.

8:23 AM


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