Isola d'Elba: A Jewel Off the Coast of TuscanyBy Max Hartshorne
Visiting the Site of Napoleon's Trysts
We took a long walk this morning up to the top of Madonna del Monte, the tallest peak on Elba. There is a chairlift that brings people up, but we took the path that is marked by 14 little white stone domes -- stations with pictures of Jesus that look like phone booths, along the faded concrete steps that line the way.
Napoleon came to Elba without his wife, Maria Louisa, and he wrote her letters every day. But his father-in-law, Austria's King, never showed them to her and eventually she took up with another man. The emperor was busy here -- funds were cut by Louis the 18th, who despised him, so he had to raise taxes and he helped establish schools, hospitals, and a working economy.
He gave this island a lot, mostly the fame and notoriety that would live on for centuries. And the that would live on for centuries.
And the silly palindrome that everybody says when you tell them you're going to Elba.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Elba's Stunning Vistas and Crisp Whites Please the SensesElba is fantastico and fabuloso. I knew we'd like it here but I didn't count on such stunning cliffside vistas, such gorgeous beaches, and such crisp dry wine and fresh from the sea meals.
We began our day at the Hotel Ilio and met Maurizio, who had just returned from Milan. He's getting his masters in marketing. "You know how you have passions and you have your job? I have this hotel but what I really love is marketing and promotion. So he runs his own PR shop and helps promote not only this hotel but this part of the island and Elba proper.
Over coffee we reviewed our maps and decided to go to Marciana Marina, where a long protected harbor is flanked by a concrete seawall and a long beach is filled with Sunday morning loungers. We walked its length and made it to the end where we found Attilio's Ristorante Capo Nord.
We decided to leave lunch in his capable hands, and he didn't disappoint, bringing out a plate of appetizers of tuna, anchovy in tomato sauce, little white beans and mussels with breadcrumbs. It was all delicious and the sun shone brightly as people teeter-tottered their way into the sea.
Then he brought us pastas with swordfish chunks and risotto with octopus, redolent of the nearby sea.
The wine was from Elba, crisp and dry. Later Maurizio met us and we followed him in his silver Porsche Cayman up the winding roads into the hills to the tiny village of Poggio. Here we met Roberta and learned about the wonderful work she does with orphans in an impoverished Kenyan village. More on this amazing woman later.
To Cavoli, for an Italian Beach Day on Elba
Today was the classic Italian beach day. But first it was time to visit the market in Marciana Marina. A typical Italian weekly market, with the usual stuff--clothing, shoes, kitchen stuff and one highlight--rotisserie chicken. We had asked our guide Tatiana her favorite place for lunch and she steered us to the stand where they roast it in the back of a truck.
Roberta Adami: One of Elba's Finest Citizens Helping Kids a World Away in Kenya
Despite the grave situation, she remains hardworking, steadfast, and hopeful that her hard work will someday ring the ears of some of the rich Kenyan widows she knows. "If we could only start a family home, a place where kids could live... I know someday we will be able to do it."
Maurizio Testa was our host on Elba. He knows the place like the back of his hand since his dad owned the Hotel Ilio and he spent many years living here. We only disregarded his advice once, when we went into Marciana and chose a locals-only restaurant. A platter of just caught fish was thrust in front of us, with instructions in Italian that this was the menu and we should make a choice.
I pointed to a foot-and-a-half long red specimen, with an ugly face. About 30 minutes later, they brought it back on a giant platter with small potatoes and a savory sauce. It was enough fish for four, and my partner politely informed me that all of a sudden, 'she didn't eat fish.' Ugh.
Like this on Facebook: