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Report 673: Tuscan Rambles

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Spring 2004

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Page 13 of 17: Day 12 – Wednesday May 12: Isola d’Elba

photo by

BW at Publius Restaurant on Elba - note the bottle of water for me

Around 7:00am, we set out on the long cross-country drive to the port of Piombino to catch the ferry to Elba. We passed through more beautiful landscape until we made it to the SS1 near Montepescali, where we turned north. We encountered a detour, which took us into uncharted map territory, but no problems, on the way to Piombino. As we drove into and through Piombino, we saw several signs announcing ferry tickets to Elba, but we proceeded to the ferry terminal. There are two private companies that operate a ferry service to Elba. We bought our return ticket to Portoferraio from MOBY. The one-hour ferry ride departs from Piombino on most hours during the day and return from Portoferraio on the half-hour. If you plan on going to Elba, check the schedule to make sure and give yourself plenty of time to get to Piombino.

Elba is a popular Italian holiday destination in the summer, but there were very few visitors on the island when we were there. The main attraction of the island for me, an ex-history teacher, is the connection to Napoleon. I was unprepared for the extreme terrain of the volcanic island.

Once out of Portoferraio, we followed a road down to a deserted beach, then turned inland and started driving up and up. We stopped and enjoyed a very expensive lunch at the Ristorante Publius in Poggio. Publius is a restaurant with a view! From its perch, it offers a breathtaking panorama of Elba’s mountainous seascape. An airy glassed-in dining terrace makes the most of the location. There was only one other couple in the restaurant when we were there. The food was very good, but I was reluctant to have even a glass of wine because of the steep, winding roads. It was “agua con gaz” for me.

From Poggio we drove back down the steep hill, cut across the island to La Pila and made our way back to Portoferraio along the southern side, stopping a few times along the way. Elba is very mountainous and heavily forested with several small towns, at many different elevations. It is obviously very dependent on summer tourism. We enjoyed the paucity of traffic on the roads. Apparently there is excellent honey produced on the island, but we didn’t manage to get any. We did buy back a couple of bottles of Elba wine, intending to bring at least one home, but they only made it as far as Villa Nottola.

When we made it back to Piombino, we exited the city by a different road. It took us a few extra minutes to get back to the SS1, from where we tried to retrace our morning route. However, the morning detour caused some problems. We couldn’t find the exit going east, so we ended up on the SS1 going south toward Grosseto. We switched over to the northbound lanes and came upon the detour exit in a few minutes. From there we made our way back to our apartment by 8:30pm. We had dinner, along with one of the bottles of wine from Elba, in the apartment.

A long day in the car, but worth it to me. Perhaps not everyone’s idea of a good time.

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