The arrivals hall of Pisa airport is relatively small. Other than people-watching (and there are plenty of opportunities for that), there is not much to entertain you whilst waiting for visiting family and friends. After 4 years, thanks to the continual videos that play above the arrival doors, M and I are well briefed in the wildlife you can find in the nearby nature reserve as well as being aware of the dangers of bringing fresh food into the country from outside the EU. To distract ourselves, we always find ourselves turning our attention to the huge advert on our right hand side for Acqua dell’Elba: handmade perfume from the Tuscan Archipelago. Every time we stare at the aquamarine water and the white, unblemished beach, we think: how beautiful, how restful, and how idyllic.
With M’s milestone birthday to celebrate, it was time to stop dreaming. We booked a ferry, a suite just 5 metres from the beach and with the cat and chickens under the care of my big sis and brother in law, we went to spend a few days in Elba. It was not our intention to just have a beach holiday but to explore some of the varied coastline. We chose a rugged part of the coast on the western side of the island: Sant’Andrea, with its small, sandy beach, incredibly clear turquoise sea, and a handful of sun beds and umbrellas (that admittedly took us by surprise). But it was the rock formations on the cliffs that had us most enthralled. Orthoclase crystals mixed into granite created the most dramatic landscape:
Patresi, on the other side of the headline, is a small cove covered in granite pebbles, with a lighthouse keeping watch high above. Rugged and almost deserted, it was just the sort of place we were hoping to find:
On the northern coast, close to Portoferraio, we found our own smaller version of the beach and clear water that enticed us here in the first place: Capo Bianco, a narrow beach full of white pebbles backed by small white cliffs. The crystal clear waters were too inviting for M to ignore. I was happy nestling in the pebbles with a good book. Obviously, at this time of year, it was not deserted and as we rolled out our beach towels, I glanced around at the mainly Italians around us, and realised just how underprepared we were: no beach umbrella, chairs, cool boxes, lilos, or beach gazebos, and certainly no dogs…
There is no doubt about it. Elba is a beautiful island and although we were only there for a few days and saw only a fraction of it, we came away feeling rested and relaxed (there’s nothing like going to bed listening to the sound of the sea lapping on the shore) and knowing we would come back again.