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Elba. Nature, and historic walking and cycling trails on Napoleon's Tuscan island

Tuesday, 05 October 2021 12:54

To mark the bicentenary of the emperor's death there are many outdoor activities to enjoy on the island that tell the story of Napoleon’s days on Elba. These new Napoleonic itineraries on foot or by bicycle are not just a historical curiosity as they also allow excursionists to experience the extraordinary natural diversity of the island which is at its best with perfect temperatures in the autumn months. Before starting out you can choose the trails that suit you best from the Elba Smart Exploring virtual tour digital maps that show 400 kilometres of trails and 200 beaches.

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The Emperor's Wood. Exploring Elba’s largest forest

It is said that when in exile and planning his escape Napoleon loved to walk the paths in the vicinity of Villa San Martino his country residence. Despite its somewhat rustic appearance the residence was much more than a simple country house. In fact it was the emperor's main residence and had many frescoes depicting his exploits. The Demidoff Gallery below the original residence was added later at the behest of Prince Demidoff in honour of the emperor. From here you can retrace Napoleon’s steps into a valley which is one of the most varied state-owned forests on the island, where for centuries the holm oak woods have been transformed into charcoal by the skilled local charcoal burners.

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Madonna del Monte’s chestnut woods, holm oaks and granite sculptures

Madonna del Monte in Marciana Marina is the main mountain sanctuary on the island: a place of silence with an intimate and evocative atmosphere On the way you will come across the hermitage where Napoleon used to spend his summers and meet with his Polish mistress Countess Laczyńska. Along the pathway eroded granite rocks form stone sculptures; among the most striking are the Eagle Boulder, the Boulder Man and the Moor’s Head.

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Stunning views over the island and the Tuscan coast

After stopping for a drink at the sanctuary's Exedra natural spring, the path - along which you can spot mouflons and birds of prey - leads to the Serraventosa panoramic terrace with views of Corsica. The walk continues on Mount Calamita passing the Orchid Sanctuary, shady pine forests and fragrant Mediterranean scrub with views of the Tuscan coast and the town of Porto Azzurro, and then on to the Stella Gulf, majestic Monte Capanne and a postcard view of Capoliveri.

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The Elba Mining Park and the emperor's treasures

The Elba Mining Park in Elba Marina is a mineralogical museum housing all the precious mineral stones that were once the main source of financing of Napoleon’s place of exile. For centuries the iron deposits on the eastern side of ​​the island made the fortune of those who exploited them: first the Etruscans, then the Pisan domination up to the Napoleonic period. Hematite, pyrite and limonite are just some of the numerous minerals that make up the geological variety of the mining sites on the Riese side of Elba. This trail is a fascinating journey to explore the many treasures hidden in the subsoil. http://www.visitelba.info and on the blog blog.visitelba.info   Follow Visit Elba on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @visitelbait

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