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Elba ( ) is an island in Tuscany, Italymarker, from the coastal town of Piombinomarker. It is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelagomarker, located between the Tyrrhenian Seamarker and Ligurian Seamarker, and the third largest island in Italy after Sicily and Sardinia. Elba and the other islands of the Tuscan Archipelago are part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago. The Frenchmarker island of Corsicamarker lies about to the west. In Italian it is called Isola d'Elba.

The island is divided into eight municipalities, of which Portoferraiomarker is the main one, the others; Campo nell'Elbamarker, Capoliverimarker, Marcianamarker, Marciana Marinamarker, Porto Azzurromarker, Rio Marinamarker, and Rio nell'Elbamarker, are part of province of Livorno, for a total of about 30 thousand inhabitants, which increases considerably during the summer.


The island of Elba is the largest remaining stretch of land from the ancient tract that connected the Italian peninsula to Corsica, after the other islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. The northern coasts are bathed by the Ligurian Sea, the eastern coast skirts the Piombino Channel, the southern coast embraces the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Corsica channel divides the western tip of the Island from neighboring Corsica.

The terrain is quite varied, and divided into several parts depending on its conformation and geology in which it was formed. The mountainous and more recent part of the Island can be found to the west, the center of which is dominated by Mount Capanne (1018 m asl), also called the "roof of the Tuscan Archipelago." The mountain is home to many animal species including the mouflon and wild boar that flourish despite the continuous influx of tourists who visit the mountain. The central part of the island is a mostly flat section with the width being reduced to just four kilometres. 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 400 million years ago. In the hilly area, dominated by Monte Calamita, are deposits of iron that made Elba famous.


Rivers rarely exceed 3 km in length on the island and it is common for those of lesser length to dry up over the summer period.The most important, sorted by length, are:

  • Fosso San Francesco 6.5 km;
  • Fosso Barion, 5.1 km;
  • Fosso Redinoce, 2 km

At the foot of Mount Capanne between Poggio and Marciana is a natural spring called Fonte Napoleone, which is regarded 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 table below shows the average temperatures for the islands by month.

Mese Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Maximum Temperature (°C) 12 13 14 16 21 24 27 27 25 20 15 13 18,9
Minimum Temperature (°C) 8 9 10 12 16 19 22 21 19 15 10 8 14,1
Rain Fall (mm) 61 53 51 47 28 24 13 30 51 82 86 69 595


Originally inhabited by Ligures Ilvati who gave the ancient name Ilva, the island was well known from very ancient times for its iron resources and its valued mines. The Greeks called it Aethalia (fume) after the fumes of the furnaces for the metal production.

The island was then taken by force by the Etruscansmarker first and later (after 480 BC) by the Romans. After the end of the Roman Empire, the island suffered from ravages by barbarians and Saracens. In the early 11th century it became a possession of the Republic of Pisa. When the latter, in 1398, was sold to the Visconti of Milan, the island was acquired by the Appiani, Lords of Piombinomarker, who retained it for two centuries. In 1546 part of the island was handed over to Cosimo I de' Medici, who fortified Portoferraio, renaming it "Cosmopoli", while in 1577 the rest of the island returned to the Appiani. In 1603 Philip II of Spain captured Porto Azzurro and built there two fortresses. In 1802 the island became a French possession, and its economy flourished.[[Image:Napoleon's exile to Elba3.jpg|left|thumb|Napoleon Bonaparte's exile to Elba, from aBritishmarker engraving, 1814]]Following the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Frenchmarker emperor Napoleon I was exiled to Elba after his forced abdication in 1814 and arrived at Portoferraio on May 3, 1814 to begin his exile there. He was allowed to keep a personal guard of six hundred men. Although he was nominally sovereign of Elba, the island was watched (more or less) by British naval patrols.

During these months, partly to pass the time and partly out of a genuine concern for the well-being of the people, he carried out a series of economic and social reforms to improve the quality of life on Elba. Napoleon stayed on Elba for 300 days. He returned to France on February 26 for the Hundred Days. After his defeat at Waterloomarker he was subsequently exiled again, this time to the barren and isolated South Atlanticmarker island of Saint Helena. Napoleon's stay on Elba is the basis for the famous English language palindrome: "Able was I ere I saw Elba." It is for the connection with Napoleon that Elba is best known internationally.

In the Congress of Vienna the island was given to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1860 it became part of the new unified Kingdom of Italy.

French troops landed on Elba on June 17 1944, liberating the island from the Germans. Faulty intelligence and strong defences made the battle more difficult than expected.

More recently, the island has become famed for its wine. It is today a renowned tourist resort.


The island is connected to the mainland via the two ferry companies, Toremar and Moby Lines, both offering routes between Piombino and Portoferraio, the capital located in the north, Rio Marina and Porto Azzurro, on the east coast of the island.

There is an airport on the island, Marina di Campo Airportmarker. It is served by Intersky, with flights to Friedrichshafenmarker, Münchenmarker and Zürichmarker and ElbaFly by internal flights.


Tourism is the main source of income on Elba. Due to tourism, the population triples in the summer.

Image Gallery

Image:Elba Korsika.JPG|Elba and Corsicamarker seen from Scarlinomarker.Image:PortoFerraio summer.jpg|Portoferraiomarker.Image:Elba Enfola.jpg|The clear water of the island.Image:Immagine217.jpg|Marciana Marinamarker.Image:Elba-Cavoli.jpg|The beach of Cavoli.Image:MteCapanne.JPG|Mt. Capanne, the highest peak of the island.Image:Crepuscolo Elba.JPG| Twilight on Nisporto's bay.Image:Casa di Napoleone.JPG|Napoleon's house in Portoferraio.Image:Elba isl.jpg|Elba (bottom centre) from space, February 1994.Image:Elba-004.jpg|Scaglieri beachImage:Vue_elbe.jpg|Coast of the island (Portoferraio)Image:Panorama ile elbe.jpg|Panorama of Marciana Marittima


  1. Elba, Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. Operation Brassard The Invasion Of Elba
  4. Ferries to Elba
  5. Ticket Ferries to Elba

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