Amongst places we visited was the historic Tenuta La Chiusa Winery that’s both a winery and a collection of holiday cottages right on the beach in Portoferraio, and which dates back to the 1700s – and where, today’s owners proudly say, Napoleon chose to stay on a couple of occasions.
A specialty wine here is Aleatico, a rich, sweet, dessert red that as well as being heartily tossed down by the glass is also tossed with gusto into another favourite called Schiaccia Briaca – the locals’ appropriately-named “drunken cake.” And yes, our guide assured us, Aleatico was a favourite of Napoleon, who would drink a glass with breakfast every day. Yeah, well…
(She revealed her grandmother swore by the wine too, also quaffing a glass a day. “She said it was for her health’s sake, and Grandma lived to 100 years, one month and ten days.”)
Elba is most-famous, however, for its beaches, including two that remarkably are reserved for dogs. Humans don’t swim at these unless taking their pets into the water, and inspectors regularly check that canine patrons have a Pet Passport certifying they’ve been micro-chipped and appropriately vaccinated. And after their ocean frolics, the happy pooches can rinse-off under their own little doggy-height showers…
Our guide also pointed out the tiny off-shore island of Monte Cristo – yes, the one made famous by Alexandre Dumas in his 19th century The Count of Monte Cristo. But if you want to visit there, register now: only 1000 visitors are allowed on this now-national park annually, and waiting-time is three years.
Elba still exports vast amounts of roof and floor tiles made from the local clay, but it is its beaches, restaurants, bars and museums – and its connections with Napoleon it’s best-known for: just about every major building seems to have some link with the man, and while he lived in an apartment in the local Town Hall, there are also six or eight houses that the locals claim he also occupied at some stage of his just-300 days on Elba...
We explored Elba as a part of a SeaDream Yacht Club cruise. For full details see travel agents, or phone SeaDream Yacht Club in Miami USA on toll-free 1800 217 902 (open till 11:00am Sydney time), or send email enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.seadream.com
Prices include all 5-star dining, drinks from the open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, nightly cocktail gatherings, a 30-course golf simulator, and onboard gratuities.
(IF you’re visiting Elba, Rome-based DDP Incentive Management specialises in sightseeing, tailor-made tours and airport, hotel, ship, and other transfers there and across most of Italy)
For our flight to Europe to join SeaDream, we chose Emirates. Emirates flies three-times a day to Dubai from Sydney, offering all the luxuries of the flagship A380 twice a day from June, with daily onwards connections to both Barcelona and Rome. For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to Emirates
Images: Tenta La Chiusa winery; quiet beach out of the tourist season; Doggy beach; SeaDreamII docks right in Portoferraio; The Mysterious Island of Monte Cristo.