Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the coastal town of Piombino. Elba is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago and the third largest island in Italy, after Sicily and Sardinia. It is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 50 kilometres (30 mi) east of the French island of Corsica.
Napoleon would think twice about fleeing Elba today. Dramatically more congested than when the emperor was exiled here in 1814 (he managed to engineer an escape within a year), the island is an ever-glorious paradise of beach-laced coves, vineyards, azure waters, hairpin-bend motoring, a 1018m mountain (Monte Capanne) and mind-bending views. It's all supplemented by a fine seafaring cuisine, lovely island wines, and land and seascapes just made for hiking, biking and sea kayaking.
After arriving at Portoferraio by ferry, we will go around the island by bus. First let’s visit Napoleons Villa dei Mulini which was his home during his stint in exile on this small isle. With its Empire-style furnishings, splendid library, fig-tree-studded Italianate gardens and unbeatable sea view, the emperor didn't want for creature comforts – contrast this with the simplicity of the camp bed and travelling trunk he used when on campaigns.
To enjoy an invigorating 40-minute hike, head up through Marciana along Via della Madonna to reach this much-altered hilltop chapel with its 13th-century fresco of the Madonna painted on a slab of granite. A remarkable coastal panorama unfolds as you make your way here past scented parasol pines, chestnut trees, wild sage and thyme. Once you reach the chapel (627m), emulate Napoleon and drink from the old stone fountain across from the church – a plaque commemorates his visit in 1814.
The shingle-sand beach at Cavoli, just 6km west of Marina di Campo, is particularly family-friendly, thanks to its beach cafe, sun loungers, pedalos and kids' playground.
Guided tours take visitors from a small site museum in Vallone, 11km south of Capoliveri, to the Genevro mine where magnetite was extracted until the operation closed in 1981. You'll walk through dark underground tunnels to see huge cathedral-like caverns where the metal was extracted.