Once upon a time I was young and on Elba. It was the summer of 1998; people were just starting to worry about Y2K and the supposed apocalypse, at least of their computers; I was about to graduate with a Master’s degree in English with which I had no idea what to do. My boyfriend and I lived as if we were in a Hemingway novel but without the war or any of the heartache. Without the general malaise, really. We were just young and drank a lot. We traveled Europe and wore plastic jellies on the beach. His were clear and mine were pink. The water was turquoise and of all the places we went to that summer, Elba had the best beaches.
With over 70 different beaches, the 27km long island of Elba has something for every beach-goer. Located in the middle of the Tuscan Archipelago Marine Park, the island of Elba can be reached by just an hour’s ferry ride from Piombino on the western coast of Italy. The island has an area of 200 square km and a coastline of 147 km, continuously alternating between gentle slopes and sheer cliffs, the beaches themselves varying between jagged rocks best for jumping into the water and smooth sand ideal for siestas. With Mount Capanne at the island’s apex more than a thousand meters high, Elba offers a territory rich in hidden corners to explore with both marine and mountain panoramas. The island is well prepared for tourism (on Elba there are about: 200 hotels, 50 residences, 30 camping sites, and 30 farm house inns). The number of residents on the island is a little more than twenty thousand.
It would be impossible to choose just one beach on Elba. There are so many, each so different and yet each singularly stunning. While most beaches are free to the public, there are establishments on the main beaches that offer rental umbrellas, changing rooms, and sun loungers. The swimming here is fabulous–the water warm and clear. Bear in mind that the depth of most of the waters increases rather rapidly, with the exception of la Biodola, Marina di Campo, Lacona and Procchio where the water remains shallow for up to 30-40 metres.
These days I I live in Northern California where I usually have to wear a sweatshirt to the beach. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I think back to that summer I spent on Elba with wonder: The spectacular beauty of the beaches, the naivete with which we rode a Vespa along sheer cliffs, the fact that my boyfriend who is now my husband wore plastic jelly sandals at all.