ISLE OF ELBA
Set in the Livorno province, it is part of the Tuscany Archipelago, which lies between Italy and Corsica, together with the islands of Gorgona, Capraia, Pianosa, Giglio, Montecristo, Giannutri and several other small isles. It is thought to have been part of a now vanished continent. The largest of the minor italian islands (223, 5 km2) the coastline is rich creeks and small beaches. Mount Capanne is the highest point (1018 m). The subsoil is rich in ore and iron, which has been mined here for 3000 years. The vegetation is typically Mediterranean, with olives, cacti, chestnuts and vines with yield lovely wines such as Aleatico and Moscato.
The earliest inhabitants were probably the Ligurians. The Etruscan refined the ironore in the furnaces of Populonia, the Romans made Elba a naval base. Due to its riches and position it suffered harassment from Pisa, Genoa and Lucca; it belonged to the Appian Duchy of Piombino, was sacked by the Turks and then occupied in turn by Spain, France and England. In 1815 it was unified with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and is associated with Napoleon who was exiled here following his abdication at Fontainebleu (3 May 1814-26 February 1815). Just 13 km from Elba is the Pianosa, which has a pristine environment. You can visit and the ruins of the Roman Villa known as Villa del bagno di Agrippa, a princely residence on the eastern coast.
The isle of Montecristo (39 km from Elba) is a single and unihabited mass of granite.
The fauna and the thick maquis are protected by the Natural Park of the Tuscan Archipelago.
ISLE OF CAPRAIA
Set in the Livorno province, this tyrrhenian island is prevalently mountainous. The sole village is Capraia isola, dominated by the Fortress of San Giorgio (early 15C). From the summit of Mount Arpagna (410 m), is a fine view of the Archipelago and Corsica. A penal colony from 1873 to 1989, it has maintained its unique floral and faunal characteristics, which are protected in the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago (which includes also the islands of Elba, Pianosa, Giglio, Montecristo, Giannutri and Gorgona).
ISLE OF GIGLIO
Set in the province of Grosseto, it is the second largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, entirely mountainous and covered in Mediterranean maquis.
There is a strong rivalry between Giglio Porto with its harbour and Giglio Castello with its mediaeval walls, dominated by the Fortress. The other village, Campese, nestles gently on a splendid beach. A few miles away is the privately-owned Isle of Giannutri, which is part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago.