Elba and the GTE

Nature and Culture

Elba and the Grande Travesrata Elbana (GTE)
Elba:
It’s an island that encapsulates charm, has extensive history as it was the place of Napoleons’s first exile and where the sea meets nature.
It’s the third largest of the Italian islands and has a geology which gives this islands its beauty and uniqueness
Elba’s terrain is quite varied, from the mountainous areas of the west including Monte Capanne, the central area of the islands is quite flat and major towns such as Portoferraio and Campo nell’Elba can be found. The east of the island is the oldest area being formed over 3 million years ago and this hilly area is dominated by Monte Calamita and the iron deposits that made Elba famous.
Elba’s history has always been connected to its iron resources and valued mines with the Greeks calling the island ‘Aethalia’ from the word meaning Smokey, after the fumes of the metal producing furnaces
The island has been inhabited by the Etruscans and then Romans and during the medieval period the island was invaded by the Lombards, possessed by the Republic of Genoa and then by the Lords of Piombino. In 1544, pirates from North Africa devastated Elba and the Tuscan coast and in 1546, parts of the islands were handed over to the Grand Duke of Tuscany who fortified Portoferraio. The Spanish captured Porto Longone in 1596 and two fortresses were built with the sovereignty of the Spanish part of the island passing to the Kingdom of Naples in 1736.
1796 saw the British invade Elba after the occupation from the French Republic of Livorno and in 1802, Elba was transferred to France.
The French emperor Napoleon was exiled to Elba after his forced abdication in 1814 and during the months he stayed on the island, he carried out a series of economic and social reforms to improve the quality of life. Even though the surrounding seas where monitored by French and British Naval ships, Napoleon managed to escape in February 1815.
Elba became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.
WW2 saw the island captured by Germans but was later liberated by French troops in 1944 and in recent decades, thanks to its rich cultural heritage, cuisine and nature, the island has become an important international tourist destination.
Portoferraio - the ‘capital’ - a strategic town and important naval hub which can be considered as a small paradise surrounded by the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
With its promenade housing businesses, bars and restaurants
where tourists and locals can enjoy an ‘aperitivo’.
The city also contains important cultural attractions, impressive Medici fortresses, residences in which Emperor Napoleon lived, Villa dei Mulini (now a museum) and Villa San Martino.
Obviously the island has beautiful beaches, such as Biodola beach or Le Ghiaie beach with its white pebble shoreline
The Grande Traversata Elbana (GTE)
In the month of April, Nicola felt energetic and decided to take on the GTE walk on the island of Elba. It definitely is NOT for the faint hearted he said after the first day and with sore legs and with a new appreciation of the GTE.
 He also said that one needs to take into consideration the differences in height throughout the journey and that the miles covered in one day or between stops can be long and challenging.
Due to it’s challenging terrain, the best months to take on this challenge are spring and autumn for favourable weather and temperatures plus the added bonus of the air being filled with fragrant scents of the colourful flowers of the Mediterranean bush, the yellow broom, turquoise sea
and grey granite.
The GTE is the major route for traversing the whole island of Elba
from East to West taking you across the mountains that make up the ‘backbone’ of this beautiful island and the trek covers a route from the sea below to the hills and mountains above, through different ecosystems, magnificent panoramas towards Corsica, Tuscan islands and mainland Italy.
The start of the GTE is from the town if Cavo and heading west, takes you to the town of Porto Azzurro where you then turn inland to the top of Monte Perone. From there, you head towards Monte Capanne where you can either go south to Pomonte making the GTE about 50km or another route is that which goes round Monte Capanne then taking you on to the town of Patresi, making the total journey just shy of 56km.
However there are options for a shorter excursion and seemingly less tiring, that one can do over three days taking nightly rests in places such as Porto Azzurro and Procchio. No camping is permitted along the GTE as it is within the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.
For more information on the GTE, visit the following website: 
https://www.komoot.com/collection/1596434/grande-traversata-elbana-from-the-mountains-to-the-sea
Team, 09/05/2024 16:02:25

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