ISLAND OF ELBA: TREKKING ROUTES
The woods on the north-western slope
- Marciana (355m) – S. Cerbone (531m) – Valle di Pedalta – La Stretta (805m) – Marciana (355m)
- Gradient: 450 m
- Journey time: ore 4.30
- Difficulty: “E”
We start in Marciana, an ancient medieval village, easily reached by bus. The point of reference is the parish church of S. Caterina which, through the medieval Lorena gate, leads us into the heart of the small historic centre; stairways and narrow alleys accompany the start of our walk, until chestnut trees replace the narrow streets and gorse replace the flowering balconies.
The chestnut wood is present up to 500 metres above sea level, and we find it again in our itinerary as far as the Hermitage of San Cerbone; it is said that the saint found refuge here in the 6th century to escape the hordes of Gummarith, Duke of the Lombards; however, the present church was built several centuries later (15th century).
San Cerbone is reached after about 40 minutes by following the path in a south-westerly direction. From Romitorio, a 20/30 minute climb leads to junction “A”. Continue following the contour line in a north-westerly direction; the path is now characterised by Mediterranean scrub, which from time to time opens up to offer impressive panoramic views.
The route is almost flat, on the rocky slopes of Monte Capanne and, with a little luck, it is possible to observe mouflons or sedentary red partridges escaping among the granite rocks, or the majestic flight of buzzards hunting small mammals.
In spring, the path is characterised by the fragrant blooms of the Mediterranean maquis, while on the meadows and among the rocks, beautiful expanses of orchids and violets colour the landscape in unusual shades. Even from the innermost paths you can enjoy the view of the sea.
From junction “A” it takes about an hour’s walk to reach the Pedalta Valley and from here, after passing through a pine and chestnut wood, you arrive at junction “B”. Climbing up, you soon reach a saddle from which, on clear days, you can see Corsica and Capraia to the west and the central-eastern island of Elba to the east.
Before concluding the excursion, it is worth stopping to visit the imposing Pisan Fortress (12th century) and, not far away, still in the upper part of the historic centre of Marciana, the Antiquarium, which houses interesting archaeological finds from the pre-Roman era.
In the world of granite
- S. Piero (230m) – Pietra Murata (544m) – Moncione (366m) – S. Piero (230m)
- Gradient: 314 m
- Journey time: ore 5.
- Difficulty: “E”
La partenza è dal piccolo borgo di San Piero a quota 230 m., che merita una visita; in particolare vi invitiamo ad ammirare i vecchi portali in granito sparsi per tutto il paese. Da non perdere la piccola chiesa di San Piero e Paolo, inglobata nel bastione difensivo che domina la piana di Marina di Campo.
Dopo aver imboccato le scalinate (ovviamente in granito) al centro del paese, si cammina in salita per circa 30 minuti, fino ad intersecare i sentiero che dalla Torre di San Giovanni porta alle Piane del Canale, dopo dieci minuti di cammino, conviene lasciare il sentiero e visitare il punto panoramico di Pietra Murata.
Da qui si vedono bene alcune isole dell’Arcipelago Toscano, in particolare Pianosa e Montecristo ed anche la Corsica. Era un punto strategico per l’avvistamento e la difesa già in epoca preromana.
Dopo aver ripreso il sentiero, si scende lungo il Fosso del Malocci fino ad incrociare il sentiero n. 35, che porta alle cave di granito di San Piero. Lungo il percorso, oltre agli scorci panoramici di rara suggestione, si noteranno le tipiche vigne a terrazzamenti in granito, per gran parte abbandonate, ma ancora in buono stato di conservazione.
Durante quest’ultima parte di percorso guardatevi bene intorno, perchè non è difficile scorgere massi di granito semilavorati: gli strani segni dentellati e gli abbozzi di colonne sono ciò che rimane dell’antica lavorazione del granito fiorente già in epoca pisana (XII sec.). Il prato verde nei pressi del vecchio mulino di Moncione merita una sosta. Il ritorno è sempre al paese di San Piero.
In the iron world
- Rio Elba (200m) – Le Panche (327m) – M. Capannello (496m) – M. Strega (427m) – S. Caterina (268m) – Torre Giove (352m) – Rio Elba (200m)
- Gradient: 380 m;
- Journey time: ore 3-4
- Difficulty: “E”
You start out from Rio nell’Elba (200 m), a characteristic mining village where you can visit the A. Ricci Museum of Elban Minerals. You leave the village through a castle gate in the direction of Volterraio and follow a dirt road uphill until it meets the provincial road coming from Portoferraio, at Le Panche.
From here you can decide to make a short diversions to visit the Volterraio castle, a fascinating fortress that was never conquered, otherwise continue until you reach the summit of Monte Capannello (496 m), which is easily identified thanks to a military antenna.
From this point until the descent from Monte Strega (427 m) you can enjoy an extraordinary landscape. In fact, walking along the ridge on easy paths you can admire the southern and northern coasts of the island at the same time.
Descending from Monte Strega along a steep path, we find ourselves on the provincial road, which we follow for a few hundred metres until we come to the dirt road that leads to the hermitage of S. Caterina, a small church now used as an international cultural centre, where we can admire ancient rose plants that cannot be found elsewhere.
Skirting the hermitage to the north, you will find a barely visible path that leads to the old ruins of farmhouses; from there, descend towards the provincial road, crossing it to begin the climb up to the Giove fortress, a romantic ruin dating back to the middle of the 14th century.
Rio nell’Elba is about 4 kilometres away, which can be covered on foot along the provincial road, since, although it is an asphalt road, it is very little used and has interesting geological formations on its edges.
From North to South
- Marciana (355m) – Madonna del Monte (630 m) – Troppolo (692m) – Chiessi (13m)
- Gradient: 340 m – 680 m
- Journey time: ore 6
- Difficulty: “E”
Marciana is a small hilltop village with granite-paved streets and narrow houses on a promontory that resembles an arrowhead. You exit near the fortress at the highest part of the village and take a wide paved path leading to the sanctuary of the Madonna del onte.
Along the way are the aedicules of the Way of the Cross and the churchyard is an exedra dating from the end of the 17th century where pure water gushes out in all seasons. A stop at this sacred place and then take path no. 3 to Chiessi.
Now the route winds its way along a well-marked and very wide path, with very little difference in height (about 100 m) to the “Troppolo”. Along the way, there is an immense panorama of sea and land. On a clear day, Capraia and Corsica are clearly visible. Large erratic granite boulders suspended in impossible equilibrium frame this rugged and varied nature. For a few stretches, ancient chestnut woods alternate with the low bushes of the scented garrigue.
From Troppolo we continue on trail No. 3 for about 40-50 minutes, almost always on the same contour line, until we cross trail No. 4, which leads to Pomonte. From now on, the descent towards Chiessi begins. A short diversions to Colle di S. Bartolomeo to visit the only wall of the 12th century church of the same name.
Although only the ruins of the perimeter walls and the ruins of one side remain, the suggestion of the place expresses an essential and primitive religiousness, as must have been the life of the people who frequented it. We return to the path and in less than an hour, on the steep lane between ancient terraces and stunted vegetable gardens, we return to sea level, possibly at sunset, which here is immense over nearby Corsica.