Tuscany conjures images of rolling hills, vineyards, olive trees, rustic villas, sunsets, and exquisite wine. However unfair, add beautiful sailing to your dream sequence and let me tell you what I saw.
The morning after sampling much Multipulciano wine, was a smart opportunity for my wife to suggest doing something different. “Let’s take a ferry and visit “Isola d’ Elba.”
Skeptical, I didn’t smile until the ferry left Piombino’s docks, exposing the turquoise Mediterranean water and near perfect sky and temperature. Five min later we spotted our first blue water cruising sailboat which didn’t drop from view until at least one other sailboat appeared—a standard maintained throughout the voyage. Fifteen min later Isola D’elba appears like a steep mountain range rising out of the sea The countless mountain ridges decended to form peninsulas which coupled making romantic coves awaiting an anchor. Many coves were uninhabited some had towns and five on the island offered full service marinas.
The ferry docked at the island’s busiest harbor. Portoferraio. Other ferries stop at Cavo, Rio marina, Porto Azzuro and Marciana marina. The Europeans carve towns into hills with a charm that warrents poets and painters to portray.
We stepped off the ferry into tourist-ville and quickly escaped via the nearest bike rental shop. Biking is a great way to experience the island. Getting into a car or bus means getting out of the environment you are visiting. Biking is healthy, fun, more conducive to stopping at vistas, talking to locals, and offers better parking with zero fuel costs. It's no surprise more cruising sailboats are stowing folding bikes. We packed water, wine, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and bread- our reward for the up hill portions. Elba's cliff top views are amazing and that they also feature many sailboats, makes Elba feel like home.
In the afternoon, gelato in hand, we walked the docks. As in the US, Beneteau dominates as does Lagoon(catamarans). I noticed far fewer Hunters and more Gibseas then I’m accustom to in the states. On Elba sailboats out number their power driven sisters. True, sailboats don’t deliver mail or passengers, or cargo but sailing is part of Elba's culture. Reluctantly boarding the ferry, I spotted a sailing school with adults practicing docking procedures. When the ferry turned, I spotted fleet of lasers beating towards a mark. I felt guilty interrupting their view with a giant, obnoxious, bus carrying, diesel burning ferry. If the ferry’s stopped, much of the island's approach looks the same as it did 100 years ago.