Marina di Scarlino – Portoferraio
We set sail early for these 22 miles of navigation that will take us to Portoferraio, the most populated center of the island of Elba, the small “capital” that assumed a role of international importance with the exile of Napoleon. A small detour for a swim in Cerboli, an enchanting islet, is a must. Its clear sea will make us feel immediately on vacation. Arriving in Portoferraio, we can moor in the ancient landing place frequented, in the past, by Etruscans, Greeks and Romans, the “Darsena Medicea”, or at the moorings of the Shipyard “Esaom Cesa”. There is always the possibility of anchoring in the roadstead. Behind the port “Darsena Medicea” lives Portoferraio and its historic center, with its beautiful views and cheerful and dynamic atmosphere, bars and characteristic restaurants, stores and boutiques.
Portoferraio was founded at the behest of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, from whom the city took its first name (Cosmopoli) in 1548, conceived as a military district to defend the coasts of the Grand Duchy and the island of Elba. The city, Tuscan exclave of the Principality of Piombino, at the beginning was only a set of fortifications (still visitable and well preserved), as the three forts: Forte Stella, Forte Falcone and Linguella and the beautiful city walls, whose remains, still in good condition and made habitable, surround the historic center of Portoferraio. The imposing curtain of ramparts that rises from the roadstead to the Falcone Fort is still largely visible today. It remained under the control of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the 18th century when the island, due to its strategic position, found itself at the center of a war between France, Austria and England. In April 1814, the island was entrusted to Napoleon Bonaparte as the seat of his first exile who chose Portoferraio as the capital of the island. In the city are still present and visitable the two villas that were his residence, that of San Martino and the Villa dei Mulini. It was with the reign of the French emperor, that Portoferraio and the whole island, grew in importance and modernity exponentially, thanks to the infrastructure created and the development of iron mines of Rio Marina. In this period Portoferraio became the port used to transport iron from the Elban quarries to the continent, and from which derives its present name.
Later Portoferraio returned under the dominion of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the unification of Italy in 1860. The island of Elba and Portoferraio had an economically stable period, thanks to the deposits, until the seventies, when the iron industry went into crisis. The mines were quickly dismantled but Portoferraio, thanks to its beaches, was able to open up to the tourism industry, which still represents the main source of wealth.
Not to be missed: the wonderful panorama from the lighthouse of Forte Stella. All around the island of Elba with its sea and the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.
Portoferraio – Isola di Capraia
Let’s leave the moorings! True pearl of the Mediterranean, the island of Capraia seems lonely and far away, but it becomes a must for lovers of the sea and sailing. You must be careful: the island is very exposed to the winds of southwest, southwest and mistral: better to moor in the small harbor or take advantage of the buoys in the roadstead.
In ancient times called “Aigylion” by the Greeks and then “Capraria” by the Romans, its name derives from the presence of wild goats on the island, but according to another hypothesis could derive from “karpa” with the meaning of “rock”. In 1055 it was conquered by the Saracen pirates, then it was dominated by the Pisans and passed definitively under the orbit of Genoa after the battle of Meloria, which placed there the lordship Jacopo de Mari in 1430. From 1540 was built by the Genoese the fortress of San Giorgio and the three watchtowers Torre del Porto (1541), Torre dello Zenobito (1545) and Torre delle Barbici (1699) to be able to see the ships of pirates and avoid raids. After the annexation of the former Republic of Genoa to the Kingdom of Sardinia with the Congress of Vienna in 1814 and the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, it was part of the province of Genoa until November 1925, when it passed to the province of Livorno. From 1873 to 1986 it was also the seat of a penal colony.
Not to be missed: the wild beauty of its seabed, the coast and the marine environment.
Capraia – Macinaggio
Let’s move on Corsica and more precisely on Macinaggio. Its beaches are very captivating, they show themselves as wonderful expanses of white sand and rocky coastline and jagged, where coves and bays are hidden.
The port of Macinaggio, built to the south of the mouth of the river Jioielli, was one of the most important maritime and commercial ports of Corsica until the nineteenth century. In the second half of the eighteenth century, precisely because of its position and its importance, many dominations followed one another: first with the French, then with Pascal Paoli and finally with the Genoese until 1765. At the end of the century the Corsicans, with the help of the English army, managed to free the town from the French and in 1859 was finally realized the first road connecting Macinaggio to Bastia, which are only 35 km between them.
Macinaggio – Saint Florent
Bow on Saint Florent! The small town anchored in its history, is surrounded by beautiful beaches, coves and coves and teems with life.
The history of Saint-Florent dates back to Roman times, but it was in the Christian era that the city had an important expansion, although initially the center developed away from the sea and the coast, as evidenced by the ancient Cathedral of Nebbio. It was only later that the town moved to the Fornali roadstead, occupying the small peninsula with the old seafaring quarter and the Citadel, which almost merge creating a perfect architectural harmony. The Genoese fortress is a particular and unusual construction compared to the typical Corsican strongholds. Founded just before the middle of 1400, it was completed only in 1568 and its lines are those typical of some Genoese fortresses.
Let’s anchor at the Giraglia for a dive! The small island at the end of the Cap Corse, uninhabited and wild, is perfect for a break in total silence.
Saint Florent – Bastia
Route to Bastia! Let’s take a dip in Centuri, its bay is wonderful for a refreshing swim, the crystal clear sea and the colors of Corsica will amaze us. The village is a real architectural jewel, set in the green of the mountains.
Located at the base of the majestic Cap Corse, from which you can enjoy breathtaking views, has always been a town of sailors and fishermen and offers spectacular seascapes, including beaches, cliffs and rock faces. We will be amazed by its monuments and its history. Bastia is probably one of the most Italian cities of Corsica, it rises in fact on the eastern coasts of the island, overlooking the territories of Tuscany, from which it borrows the style of the houses, the colors and partly the spirit.
The city takes its name from the fortress (a bastille) founded in 1378 by the Genoese governor Leonello Lomellini to defend the area from the attacks of Count Arrigo della Rocca. Previously existed in the area only the small center of Cardo with a port of fishermen. Soon around the fortress was formed an inhabited center and in 1488 Raffè de’ Grimaldi finished the enclosure of the walls and began the construction of the citadel, completed in 1521. In the eighteenth century began the movement of independence of the island: in 1745 Bastia was conquered by the independentists led by the head of the Sardinian troops, and by the English admiral Cooper; later it was occupied again by the Genoese, authors of ferocious reprisals. In 1764 it was occupied by the French, and following the Treaty of Versailles, all Corsica passed definitively to France. In 1793 it lost the qualification of capital of the island in favor of Ajaccio, chosen by the French both for having given birth to Napoleon Bonaparte, and for not being turned towards Italy, whose bonds with Corsica had to be severed in order to Frenchise the island. At the dawn of the 19th century the city was at the center of numerous disputes: in 1794 it was occupied by the independent Corsicans, but was reconquered two years later by the French; in 1814 it was occupied by the English commanded by General Montresor and in 1815 it was briefly proclaimed independent by Salvatore Viale, only to return to the French until the Second World War. It was occupied by the Italians from 1942 to September 13, 1943, when it passed under the control of the Nazis; on October 4, 1943, finally, the Italian soldiers drove the Nazis out of the island with the help of the partisans and the French troops. The city thus returned under full French administration.
Not to be missed: Bastia and its past are waiting for us!
Bastia – Fetovaia
Let’s go back to the island of Elba and let’s have as destination Fetovaia. Its beach is certainly one of the most fascinating of the island thanks to the promontory that protects it, its white sand bottom and its turquoise and crystal clear sea. It is a must for all sailors who are attracted by the amazing naturalistic background that alone deserves a visit.
Fetovaia – Marina di Campo
We face this small stretch of navigation that takes us to Marina di Campo, idyllic village on the island. Warning: with south winds it is better to stay in the roadstead. The pier, in fact, is often insufficient and it is difficult to moor with the Sirocco. The beach is very comfortable, a short walk from the port and behind there is also a large pine forest where you can stay cool.
Marina di Campo is a small fraction of the municipality of Campo dell’Elba. During the Middle Ages, it was annexed to the Republic of Pisa. The present town of Marina di Campo rose during the following centuries near the plain anciently called, for its peculiarity of wetland, Maremma of Elba. In the municipal territory is also included the island of Pianosa. In the westernmost part of the municipality there is the Costa del Sole, which includes some of the most famous, beautiful and popular places on the whole island of Elba.
Do not miss: The food is delicious and a walk in the town is a must.
Marina di Campo – Isola del Giglio (Porto)
Let’s hoist the sails towards Giglio Island! The entire coast of the island is jagged with numerous rocks interspersed only by coves and bays. Giglio Porto is the only port on the island, small and picturesque, it is also a very quaint town with colorful houses and narrow between them, which form alleys and narrow streets.
The island was inhabited since the Iron Age. Later it was perhaps an Etruscan military base and even under Roman rule was a center of a discrete importance in the Tyrrhenian Sea mentioned, for example, by Julius Caesar in “De bello Gallico”. At the edge of the town of Giglio Porto, slightly below sea level, are the remains of the beautiful Roman villa that includes perimeter walls, remains of mosaics and frescoes, starry terrace and a long hanging terrace; the whole area is called “I Castellari”. In subsequent eras it was ruled by various noble families of central Italy and from 1264 by the Pisan government, which then had to cede it to the Medici. In the Middle Ages it passed under the dominion of the family Aldobrandeschi, subsequently to the commune of Perugia. In 1544 the pirate called Barbarossa sacked the island, killed anyone who opposed and deported, as slaves, more than 700 gigliesi. Following this bloody raid, the Medici family repopulated the island with people from the Sienese lands.
Isola del Giglio (Porto) – Isola di Giannutri
We take off towards the island of Giannutri. Giannutri is also part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and is its smallest and southernmost island. It is a tiny treasure: 500 meters big and about 5 kilometers long. It is frequented mainly by divers, attracted by the charm of its intact seabed, rich in fish, corals and wrecks of ancient ships to explore. The almost rocky coastline is full of wonderful caves and picturesque coves, with two small pebble beaches in Cala dello Spalmatoio and Cala Maestra.
The island of Giannutri was occasionally inhabited during the Bronze Age and saw its greatest splendor in Roman times, when the port and a villa were built on the west coast of the island. Finished the splendors of the Roman era, the island remained uninhabited for many centuries, being in the open sea with an almost flat territory that did not allow natural shelters in case of pirate raids. Only the pirates, often, landed there to rest in the caves of the island, before sailing to assault the coasts of Tuscany. Becoming part of the State of the Presidi in the second half of the sixteenth century, the island was considered by the Spaniards the weak point of their state, which had an efficient defensive system. For several centuries the Spanish rulers studied the possibility to build a defensive structure in Giannutri in order to allow the development of residential settlements. Many projects of fortifications were conceived, but they remained only on paper.
Despite the impossibility of realizing these ambitious projects, at the beginning of the nineteenth century was built by the French, during the Napoleonic period, the Fort of Discovery, which, however, no trace remains. In 1861, when the island became part of the Kingdom of Italy, was built along the southern coast of the Lighthouse Capel Rosso, to report the island to ships in transit.
Isola di Giannutri – Porto Ercole (Cala Galera)
We sail to Porto Ercole and moor at Cala Galera. Let’s sail to Porto Ercole and moor in Cala Galera. From the port we can walk along the promenade, which with its bars, restaurants and terraces overlooking the sea will leave us speechless. Inevitable a tour in the heart of the village between alleys, stairways and small squares overlooking the coast.
The history of Porto Ercole already began in Etruscan times, as evidenced by the numerous finds in the vicinity. Later, the small Etruscan center was conquered by the Romans and transformed into a port. In the Middle Ages, in the year 1296, the countess of Sovana, Margherita Aldobrandeschi, had a square tower erected called “Torre di Terra”, the first part of the Fortress of Porto Ercole. A few years later, Porto Ercole was inherited by the Orsini, who enlarged and fortified the Tower. In the fifteenth century the port was bought by the Republic of Siena, which consolidated the already existing medieval building, raised the walls that still surround the village and built some of the coastal towers that still persist on the coast of Argentario. With the dominion of Siena Porto Ercole flourished. In 1555 Porto Ercole had to defend itself, when the Florentines allied with Spain, fought against the Republic of Siena, at that time backed by France. Shortly before the battle the town was equipped with other fortifications, in addition to the existing one: Fort della Galera, Fort Santa Barbara, Fort Sant’Elmo, Fort Stronco, Fort Guasparrino, Fort dell’Avvoltoio, Fort Sant’Ippolito and Fort Ercoletto. Of these fortifications no trace remains, only the Rocca survived. With the defeat of Siena and France, Porto Ercole was annexed to the State of the Royal Presidi of Spain. Spain took care of the fortification of the port, enlarging the Rocca Senese and building three other forts: Forte Filippo, Forte Stella and Forte Santa Caterina. With the Spanish government, Porto Ercole experienced its greatest splendor and became a very important port in Europe. At the dissolution of the State of the Presidi by Napoleon, the country fell into a slow decline. The port was reborn as a tourist destination with the visit of Queen Juliana of Holland.
Not to be missed: Forte Filippo, the Rocca and Forte Stella, the three perfectly preserved fortifications from which to admire wonderful views. Keep your camera handy!
Porto Ercole (Cala Galera) – Talamone
Talamone will enchant us with its sandy beaches, large pine forests and blue sea as far as the eye can see. Its coves are very characteristic and the beach under the Aldobrandesque fortress is a jewel. Its bay is extremely suitable for all sailing sports.
Ancient and flourishing city already in Etruscan times, in 225 B.C. saw on its territory a decisive battle between the Romans and the Celts who were heading towards Rome. Since the most remote ages it is known from the etruscans as Tlamun, from the latins as Talamo-Talamonis, from the greeks as Telamon. In the Middle Ages became a feud of Aldobrandeschi, who erected the fortress that still stands out from the promontory and dominates the town and a long stretch of coastline. In 1559 it was ceded to Spain and became part of the State of the Presidii. The port of the town was a stage of the expedition to Egypt of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who left in 1798 from Toulon to Naples, stopping here as Napoleon himself wrote in his Memoirs.
The name of the town is certainly linked to Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Thousand that in 1860, the year in which Talamone was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia, they stopped here to stock up with water and weapons.
Talamone – Porto Azzurro
Stage: The Ants of Grosseto
We set sail for a beautiful sail to Porto Azzurro. The Formiche di Grosseto, three small islands far from the coast, call us for a refreshing dip. They are true uncontaminated natural paradises: the seabed is very popular with scuba diving enthusiasts and rich in archaeological finds.
Porto Azzurro was founded in 1603 by Philip III of Spain, at the foot of the gulf on the east coast of the island, on the advice of the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, who erected a fort on the promontory to the east of the inlet. Together with Forte Focardo, on the other side of the gulf, it constituted the defensive system of the gulf of Mola, base of the fleet of the Spanish king Filippo III. This defensive system aimed to stop the military rise of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany that with the fortification of Portoferraio had a strategic stronghold in the Tyrrhenian Sea, which could seriously endanger the Spanish interests in this part of the Mediterranean. It was annexed to the kingdom of Naples in 1714, to which it remained until 1801, when it was ceded to the French who had occupied all of Tuscany. In 1815, after the fall of Napoleon, Porto Azzurro was then annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the Unification of Italy. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, along with Portoferraio and Marciana Marina, was the largest center of fishermen on the island of Elba, encouraging immigration. In the surrounding territory subsists, side by side with the bathing tourism, an important agricultural activity (above all fruit growing and viticulture). The port, often, in summer, is very crowded. In this case we can stay in the roadstead in front of Porto Azzurro, or move to Golfo di Mola.
Not to be missed: the lively Piazza Matteotti, the main meeting point of the people of Porto Azzurro. During the summer season, numerous musical, cultural and historical performances animate even more the square and all of Porto Azzurro.
Porto Azzurro – Marina di Scarlino
Calmly, we prepare to leave the moorings: only 18 miles separate us from the Marina of Scarlino. These two intense weeks of wind, sea and sailing are over but will remain among the most beautiful memories. Let’s anchor in Cala Martina, a beautiful cove near the port, for a last dive and to say goodbye to the crystal clear sea of the Tuscan Archipelago.