By Barbara Kossy
Editor’s Note: Barbara Kossy has been kayaking the Mediterranean since 1996. She has been to Elba a number of times and it’s one of her favorite kayak destinations.
I set up my life so I could travel, and when I travel to paddle I kayak in Italy, paddling the Island of Elba since 1996.
Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy. It is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago. It is also part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park. Elba has a total population of around 30,000, which increases considerably in summer. It is the largest remaining stretch of land from the ancient tract that once connected the Italian peninsula to Corsica.
The north coast faces the Ligurian Sea, the east coast the Piombino Channel, the south coast the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the Corsica Channel divides the western tip of the island from neighboring Corsica. Elba has warm temperatures during the months from May to September, from the mid 60’s to the low 80’s.
One of the best known facts about Elba is that it was used as the “prison” for French Emperor Napoleon I. Following the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Napoleon was exiled there after his forced abdication in 1814. He remained on the island for 300 days, guarded by the British Royal Navy.
In September I stepped from the stout metal of the ferry to the cement of the dock and Harriet and Gaudenzio stood smiling and waving, the late afternoon sun lighting them from behind, white shirts fluttering in the breeze, sunglasses glinting. I’d known Harriet since 1980 in Berkeley and Gau since 1996.
The sea air smelled warm and sunny. Terra cotta roofs, and dark asphalt heat the shimmering blue sky.
Then Sea Kayak Italy had been named Sea Kayak Adventures. It was a group of avid kayakers starting Italy’s first kayak touring company and school.
During that first visit they asked me if I could bring American kayakers to Italy, to Elba Island, to kayak with them. Yes, of course I can. At least I can try because at that time Italy was known for food and art and architecture, not as a kayak destination.
The kayaks were there, lined up on the beach. I chose my familiar favorite the 516 by Sea Kayak Design. On our second day the winds were coming up. We did a bit of skill building in the marina. Learning to scull and roll with the Greenland paddles.
To stretch out a bit a few of us paddled the length of the harbor. Just below the red brick Pisan watch tower were a few red and blue painted fishing boats docked by the rough cement boat ramp. It was here we landed after my first Elba paddle in 1996. My first view of Marciana Marina had been by sea. The ramp, the fishing boats. And the watchtower. The church bells ringing at noon. Intoxicating. Addicting.
Here’s the webcam for a view of the Marciana Marina harbor from the Marinella Hotel:
In June I’ll be returning to kayak and explore the north east and northwest coastal areas. You can join me. See www.barbarakossy.com for more information.
Questions? Comments? Want to set up a trip? Contact Barbara at the web address above!