Napoleon was viewed as one of the greatest military leaders in all of history and while his tactics might have supported this theory, his personality was nothing short of fuel for his demise. Napoleon led the French through a series of successful battles after working his way up through the ranks before eventually becoming the Emperor of France in 1804. The ruler did establish many beneficial things for Europe, including both political and social reforms as well as support for the arts and sciences. However, it was his arrogance and perceived insecurity that brought his empire - and him by extension - down.
After a failed attempt at leading an invasion against the Russians, many of Napoleon's supporters turned on him. His first logical response to this was to allow his son to rule and lead in his place, an offer which was rejected. He then abdicated to the island of Elba which would be known as the first place for his exile with the second being the island of Saint Helena. However, many who have been to the Italian island of Elba would argue that it's not such a bad place to live, let alone be exiled to. It's not as popular a Tuscan location as other parts of Italy, but it is known for crystal-clear waters, delicious Mediterranean food, surreal sunsets, and more history than just Napoleon's days of exile.
Few Crowds And Perfect Swimming Conditions
Elba is not a large destination, at least not when compared to the rest of Italy and Europe's other islands. What's so surprising about this is that the island is home to arguably some of the most beautiful beaches off the Tuscan coast, including Sansone, which is the most popular due to location and backdrop. Set against a picturesque cliffside with pristine white sand beach below and turquoise water at the shoreline, there's nothing not to love about this beach.
It could be one of the most instagrammable beaches in the world if it weren't competing with other popular European destinations, but its lack of crowds is wholly a good thing, especially for travelers looking to get away. However, Sansone is only one of many beaches that dot the exterior coast of this island - and many of them are protected by the surrounding cliffs, creating the perfect calm, swimmable conditions that are found at Sansone.
The Seafood Is As Fresh As It Gets
It's not uncommon in Italy to run into seafood that has been caught as early as that morning and Elba is famous for this. Fishermen go out in the early morning and whatever they catch is usually on the menus of seafood restaurants later that day. The beautiful thing about this is that no matter where travelers go, they can rest assured that the catch of the day came from local waters.
Elba also plays host to a wide array of seafood dishes, all inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean and influenced by Tuscany's best cooking methods and spices. For those looking for a good, fresh, and satisfying meal, they won't need to look too far when staying in Elba.
Explore Elba's History, Including Abandoned Mines, Museums, And Landmarks
Of course, no visit to Elba would be complete without learning the full history of Napoleon, whose legacy is still carried on and celebrated throughout much of this island. The former ruler was able to establish various museums and villas during his lifetime, many of which still stand today and are worth taking a peek for those who visit. His influence can still be felt in these establishments, especially at Villa dei Mulini, which was redesigned and refurbished by Napoleon himself.
Another fact that's not very well known about Elba is its rich history in iron and iron mining. Some of the island's oldest history dates back to the Etruscan era and these mines have been involved in shaping the island throughout the centuries, making them one of the most popular tourist destinations. The mines were open until 1980 and the only mine that's still open to the public is the Ginevro, an underground mine that visitors can explore.
Stroll Through Untouched Villages And Catch The Sunrise
This island is also known for its hamlets, in which sleepy towns sit, untouched and uninfluenced by the outside world throughout the centuries. Many of these villages present themselves like a walk back through time, with their buildings and walkways boasting historical accuracy that has been maintained, but not interfered with, for many decades.
The history is tangible on this island and as travelers traverse from one hamlet to another, they'll discover new and interesting things about each town. A favorite to visit is Portoferraio, where much of the island's history can be found.