Thanks to its rich history, there are many interesting monuments to be visited on the island: sanctuaries, fortified churches, cylindrical watchtowers, fortifications, etc. The main towns on the island (namely Portoferraio, Marciana, Capoliveri and Porto Azzurro) are ideal destinations for an excursion, if only for a short wander through their narrow streets.
Sanctuaries: in Capoliveri, the Sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie dating back to the 15th century, built on the orders of the Spanish governor José Pons y Léon, is home to a Virgin Mary similar to the statue found in the sanctuary in Catalonia.
Volterraio: Volterraio Castle was fortified by the Romans, the people of Pisa, and the Spanish. Perched on a rocky spur, the castle affords a panoramic view over the whole archipelago and even Corsica.
Fortified churches: San Niccolò Church and San Piero in Campo (respectively dating back to the 11th and 14th centuries), San Nicola in Poggio, and Santi Martiri Giacomo e Quirico in Rio nell'Elba.
Watchtowers: The Torre della Marina, which dates back to the 11th century, and the Torre Pisana and Sarrasine, said to date back to the 15th century, in Marina di Campo and Marciana Marina. In Rio Marina you can also find the Medicea tower, a Spanish construction dating back to 1534 owed to the Appiani family.
Napoleonic villas: the Villa dei Mulini in Portoferraio, and the Villa di San Martino in the hinterland.
The Island of Elba is perfect for sports enthusiasts: among some of the activities you can participate in are trekking and mountain biking excursions, various underwater diving and windsurfing sites, as well as trails for horseback riding.
The trekking and mountain biking routes are particularly renowned for the beauty of the surrounding landscapes, not to mention the various difficulty levels available (split into beginner's, intermediate and expert routes), an aspect appreciated by the varied sports enthusiasts who visit the island. The routes start off in the island's main towns, from where keen hikers and cyclists set off to explore the whole island. Drop in to the tourist information centre to get a map outlining the various excursions.
The woods on the northwestern slope. Itinerary from Marciana (at an altitude of 355m). Stages: San Cerbone after 531m and Valle di Pedalta after 805m. The trek lasts approximately 4 and a half hours.
Eagle nests. Itinerary from Rio nell'Elba, a 7.5 mile trek. Intermediate level.
The world of iron. Itinerary from Rio nell'Elba, a 7.5 mile trek. Stages: Le Panche, Monte Capannello, Monte Strega, Santa Caterina, Torre Giove. This trek lasts approximately 3-4 hours.
Mountain biking routes :
Monte Perone : Redinoce, Monte Perone, Redinoce. Concrete and dirt tracks. 10.5 miles, expert level.
Cavo: Rio nell'Elba, Cavo, Rio nell'Elba. Asphalt. 13 miles, expert level.
Calamita: Capoliveri, Punta Calamita, Capoliveri. Dirt tracks and compact earth. 16.5 miles, intermediate-beginner's level.
To think about
A bike tourism destination, the Island of Elba is hilly. Some of the cycling routes present with some dauntingly steep hills. So if you're only a beginner, it's better to get some training in beforehand.
The distances between the towns and villages on the island are quite large: if you want to visit the entire island, it's essential to hire a car or a bike.