Those of you who have been reading me closely and paying attention will realise by now that I am an island fancier of grand proportions!
Describe the coastal parts and lush interior of a beautiful island and I more or less turn to complete mush. In short, I am drawn to the idea of pretty plants, exotic flowers and beaches that reside far, far away from the crowds and stresses of normal city life.
On this theme I once enjoyed visiting the Italian island of Elba. It is firstly pertinent to establish the name does not refer in any way to that joiner of forearm and bicep, the humble elbow!
Not as well known as its sister islands – Sicily and Sardinia – it nonetheless has many charms.
Elba is the third largest of Italy’s islands and found 10km off the Tuscan coast forming part of Europe’s largest marine park.
It has a long history; first inhabited by the Ilvati tribe who named it Ilva and later by the Etruscans and Romans. Wandering around the island, I was most impressed by its natural beauty and charm where rich vegetation, forests and sheer rock are hugged by limpid aquamarine seas.
A sense of calm pervades the island; this peaceful ambience becomes the realisation of all those fantasy islands you might idle upon in your daydreams – the antithesis of loveless ‘Lord of the Flies’. I loved Elba’s coastal views; its pristine blue waters and alluring beaches. It also appealed as a walking holiday due to its many good hiking routes all with breathtaking views of lush landscape and sea.
Small villages perch on its shores where island dwellings warm the views with pinky-orange hued roofs and bobbing boats on crystalline inlets.
It seems I share my love of this island with Napoleon who sought refuge on Elba during his exile in 1814 and you can find his residence here, ‘Palazzini deil Mulini’.
If you’re having a Hippopotamus day and fancy a mud wallow, you can head for the thermal baths of San Giovanni. To me Elba is one of nature’s gifts; a seductive retreat.