Thursday, October 14, 2010

Isola d'Elba

In the craziness of the last few weeks, I forgot to blog about our trip to the island of Elba. On Saturday morning the 11th, we woke up thinking we would take a trip back to Cortona and maybe another city. But, Todd and Luana showed up with talk of a hotel deal and details for taking a ferry to Elba. So we quickly packed up the car and headed for Piombino to catch a ferry!

There are multiple ferry companies with different offerings, so looking online the previous week was confusing. It was almost easier to just show up and catch the next one once we realized there was plenty of room on each (if not taking a car). When we arrived the next ship leaving was Toremar, so we grabbed our tickets and got on board. The ride was decent, food not so great (as we were traveling during lunch), so we waited to grab a bite once we arrived on the island. Our plan once we arrived was to grab a cheap rental car (or two), grab a sandwich, and start driving to the park on the west side of the island.

We started the drive in our mighty Fiat Pandas. The road was winding, up and down the mountain side, along the north coast from Portoferraio to Procchio. There were a few lookouts and we were able to stop a couple times, but the views were incredible. Continuing along the northern road we were expecting to find a park with information and maybe some trails. After driving around the west coast and arriving in Fetovaia, we realized this was not quite the park we were expecting. It is mostly a protected area with no roads or trails; so it doesn't really get enjoyed. Interestingly enough, though, is how the landscape changed from the north to the west to the south.

At this point we decided to head to Campo nell'Elba and see what information we could find there. We stopped in town and found some information about a nice lookout to the south and a small church up on the mountain. So, we hit the road in search. The lookout to the south was supposed to be tricky to find. We found a dirt/gravel trail with a sign that pointed to the lookout, so we went for it. This is the type of trail you want a truck for, but our little Fiat Panda's did ok. We were unsuccessful in finding the exact lookout, but our views of the water and shoreline were great. Before we got in too deep on this trail, we decided to head back and it was much more rough than we thought we could handle (and we had no water or food). So we got back on the main east/west road.

We then found the north/south road that cut across the mountain back up to Portoferraio and Magazzini (where our hotel was located). This was supposed to be a little hiking trail up to a small church and then through the mountain-side to another view. We ended up descending on the north side without finding a trail, so we turned around at someone's house and they were able to indicate to us that we had just missed it. So we headed back up and sure enough from that direction, there was a small sign on the road. We drove down the side road to what appeared to be a parking area. There was a park ranger truck there and they confirmed that yes, we had found the trail.

We crammed everything in to our Panda (as the other one would not lock) and started up the hill. It was only a 5 minute walk up to the little, locked church, but the view from the top was amazing. We all took many, many pictures.

Not my greatest work, but panoramic view from the top of the mountain.

View Larger Map

We then found what we figured would be the trail, but the couple different legs we found were all overgrown within about a 1/4 mile. It was also starting to get dark, so we decided it was time to find our hotel and get some food!

We had booked a couple rooms at the Hotel Mare, located on Magazzini Beach. While this beach doesn't really have any sand, neither do most beaches in Italy. And, it is private with calm waters and the ability to rent some kayaks or paddle boats. The hotel also has a restaurant that was actually ok. Since Magazzini beach is about 10-15 minutes to Portoferraio, we were ready to eat immediately and opted to eat there. We sat by the water, eating and drinking vino until about 11.

The next day, Kacey and I had to return the Pandas and bus it back to Magazzini. Our plans for the day were to sit by the pool, sit by the beach, do nothing, and then take a water taxi back to Portoferraio to catch a ferry around 3pm. It all worked out pretty well. On our way back the next ferry leaving was Moby, so we climbed on and got ready to snap many pictures on our way out of the bay. Check them out with the link below!

Pictures from Elba