Elba (Italian: isola d'Elba, pronounced [ˈiːzola ˈdelba];
Latin: Ilva; Ancient Greek: Αἰθαλία, Aithalia) is a
Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi)
from the coastal town of Piombino, and the largest island of the
Tuscan Archipelago. It is also part of the Arcipelago Toscano National
Park, and the third largest island in Italy, after
Sardinia. It is located in the
Tyrrhenian Sea about 50 kilometres
(30 mi) east of the French island of Corsica.
The island is part of the province of
Livorno and is divided into
eight municipalities, with a total population of about 30,000
inhabitants which increases considerably during the summer. The
Portoferraio (which is also the island's principal
town), Campo nell'Elba, Capoliveri, Marciana,
Marciana Marina, Porto
Azzurro, and Rio.
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Elba is the largest remaining stretch of land from the ancient tract
that once connected the Italian peninsula to Corsica. The northern
coast faces the Ligurian Sea, the eastern coast the
the southern coast the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the
Corsica Channel divides
the western tip of the island from neighbouring Corsica.
The island itself is made up of slices of rocks which once formed part
of the ancient Tethyan seafloor. These rocks have been through at
least two orogenies, the
Alpine orogeny and the Apennine orogeny. The
second of these two events was associated with subduction of the
Tethyan oceanic crust underneath
Italy and the obduction of parts of
the ancient seafloor onto the continents. Later extension within the
stretched inner part of the
Apennine mountains caused adiabatic
melting and the intrusion of the
Mount Capanne and the La Serra-Porto
Azzuro granitoids. These igneous bodies brought with them skarn fluids
which dissolved and replaced some of the carbonate units,
precipitating iron-rich minerals in their place. One of the iron-rich
minerals, ilvaite, was first identified on the island and takes its
name from the
Latin word for Elba. More recently, high-angle faults
formed within the tectonic pile, allowing for the migration of
iron-rich fluids through the crust. The deposits left behind by these
fluids formed the island's rich seams of iron ore.
The terrain is quite varied, and is thus divided into several areas
based on geomorphology. The mountainous and most recent part of the
island can be found to the west, the centre of which is dominated by
Mount Capanne (1,018 metres/3,340 ft), also called the "roof of
the Tuscan Archipelago". The mountain is home to many animal species
including the mouflon and wild boar, two species that flourish despite
the continuous influx of tourists. The central part of the island is a
mostly flat section with the width being reduced to just four
kilometres (2.5 miles). It is where the major centres can be found:
Portoferraio, Campo nell'Elba. To the east is the oldest part of the
island, formed over 3 million years ago. In the hilly area,
dominated by Monte Calamita, are the deposits of iron that made Elba
Rivers rarely exceed 3 kilometres (2 miles) in length, and it is
common for the shorter ones to dry up during the summer. The largest
rivers, sorted by length, are:
Fosso San Francesco 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi);
Fosso Barion, 5.1 kilometres (3.2 mi);
Fosso Redinoce, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi)
Between Poggio and Marciana, at the foot of Mount Capanne, is a spring
called Fonte Napoleone, known for its quality.
The climate of the island is predominantly Mediterranean, except for
Mount Capanne, where winters tend to be moderately cold. Precipitation
is concentrated in autumn and comprises a normal rainfall. The island
lies in the rain shadow of the large and mountainous island of
Corsica, so precipitation totals are somewhat reduced from the
mainland (most of the island receives less than 750 mm (30
inches) annually). Snowfall in winter is rare in the lowlands, and
melts quickly. The table below shows the average temperatures for the
islands by month.
Climate data for Elba
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Servizio Meteorologico (temperature and precipitation data
Source #2: Servizio Meteorologico (relative humidity and sun data
The map of
Elba in The Rise and Fall of Napoleon, 1814 cartoon by
Johann Michael Voltz
Napoleon on Elba
Napoleon Bonaparte leaving
Elba on 26 February 1815
The island was originally inhabited by
Ilvates who gave it the
ancient name Ilva. It was well known from very ancient times for its
iron resources and its valued mines. The
Greeks called it Aethalia
(Αιθαλία, "fume") after the fumes of the furnaces for the
production of metal.
Apollonius of Rhodes mentions it in his epic poem
Argonautica, describing that the
Argonauts rested here during their
travels. He writes that signs of their visit were still visible in his
day, including skin-coloured pebbles that they dried their hands on
and large stones which they used at discus.
Strabo (5.2.6) presents a
slightly different account: "because the scrapings, which the
Argonauts formed when they used their strigils, became congealed, the
pebbles on the shore remain variegated still to this day."
The island was invaded by the Etruscans and later (after 480 BC) by
the Romans. In the middle ages, it was invaded by the Ostrogoths and
the Lombards, and then it became a possession of the Republic of Pisa.
After the battle of Meloria, the
Republic of Genova
Republic of Genova took possession of
Elba, but it was regained by Pisa in 1292. The island was retained
for two centuries by the Appiani family, Lords of
Piombino when they
sold Pisa to the house of Visconti of Milan in 1399.
In 1544, the
Barbary pirates from North Africa devastated
Elba and the
coasts of Tuscany. In 1546, part of the island was handed over to
Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who fortified Portoferraio
and renamed it "Cosmopoli", while the rest of the island was returned
to the Appiani in 1577. In 1596,
Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain captured Porto
Azzurro and had two fortresses built there. A part of
Elba came into
the power of the
Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples through the State of the Presidi,
including Porto Longone. In 1736, the whole of
Elba with the
Piombino passed under the jurisdiction of Kingdom of
The British landed on the Island of
Elba in 1796, after the occupation
Livorno by the French Republican troops, to protect the 4,000
French royalists who had found asylum in
Portoferraio two years
earlier. In 1801, the
Peace of Luneville
Peace of Luneville gave
Elba to the Kingdom of
Etruria, and it was transferred to France in 1802 by the Peace of
Amiens. French Emperor
Napoleon was exiled to
Elba after his
forced abdication following the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1814), and he
Portoferraio on 30 May 1814. He was allowed to keep a
personal guard of 600 men. He was nominally sovereign of Elba,
although the nearby sea was patrolled by the French and British
navies. During the months that
Napoleon stayed on the island, he
carried out a series of economic and social reforms to improve the
quality of life. He stayed on
Elba for 300 days, then escaped to
France on 26 February 1815.
At the Congress of Vienna,
Elba was restored to the Grand Duchy of
Tuscany. In 1860, it became part of the new unified Kingdom of Italy.
The island was liberated from the Germans by the French 1er Corps
d'Armée on 17 June 1944 in Opération Brassard. Faulty intelligence
and strong defences made the battle more difficult than expected.
Schiaccia briaca (drunken cake) from
Elba and Aleatico (Elban wine)
used in the recipe
More recently, the island has become famed for its wine and is a noted
The island is connected to the mainland via the four ferry companies,
Toremar, Moby Lines, Blunavy and
Corsica Ferries - Sardinia
Ferries, all offering routes between
Piombino and Portoferraio,
the capital located in the north, Cavo,
Rio Marina and Porto Azzurro,
on the east coast of the island.
There is an airport on the island, Marina di Campo Airport. It is
SkyWork Airlines and Silver Air with flights to the Italian
mainland and Switzerland
The island has a network of trails for road racers looking for more
technical routes for their training, trails and dirt roads for bikers
to have fun on, and accessible routes for families with children who
need safe and relaxing routes. On the road from
Rio nell'Elba going to
Porto Azzurro is the “Fonte di Coppi”. Towards the end of his
career Fausto Coppi, the “campionissimo”, came here to train on
the roads of Elba. He still retained a celebrity status but was no
longer at the peak of his career that ended with his death a few years
later. The plaque on the fountain reads: "1960–2010, here the
champion quenched his thirst, since fifty years on the run".
West coast of Elba
Aerial view of Elba
Lighthouse in Portoferraio
Flag of Elba
^ "Istat official population estimates". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
^ "Elba". Parco nazionale dell'Arcipelago Toscano. 16 February 2009.
Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 15 January
^ "The association of continental crust rocks with ophiolites in the
Northern Apennines (Italy): implications for the continent-ocean
transition in the Western Tethys" (PDF). els-cdn.com.
^ "ELBA/M. CALAMITA" (PDF). Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 13
^ "MONTE CALAMITA - ELBA". Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 13
^ Race, W. H. Apollonius Rhodius: Argonautica, Loeb Classical Library
(2008), II. 654–58, pp. 381–3; see note 95 p. 383 for Strabo
^ David, Robert C. Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in
the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800, Palgrave
Macmillan, 2004. ISBN 1-4039-4551-9
^ Catholic Encyclopedia
^ History of
^ McGrann, Bill. "Operation Brassard The Invasion Of Elba". BBC.
Retrieved 16 March 2010.
^ "Food and Wine".
Elba Island World. Archived from the original on
2010-03-16. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
^ "Traversate traghetti Sardegna,
Corsica e Isola d'Elba".
CorsicaFerries / SardiniaFerries.
^ "Ferries to Elba".
Tuscany Live. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
^ "Ferries to the island of Elba". Ferry
Elba Reservation. Retrieved
16 March 2010.
^ "Blunavy ticket reservation (EN)". Blunavy. Archived from the
original on 2011-06-19. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
Toremar ticket reservation (IT)". Toremar. Retrieved 19 June
Moby Lines ticket reservation (EN)". Moby Lines. Retrieved 19 June
^ "Home -
Elba Island Airport". Retrieved 16 July 2016.
Chandler, David G. (1990). The Illustrated Napoleon. New York: Henry
Holt & Co. ISBN 0-8050-0442-4.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Elba.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elba.
Elba at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
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