"This is the Island of shimmering reflections on the water of a thousand shades of blue. This is the island of iron and fir, refuge over the centuries for Etruscans, Romans, Pisans, the Medici and the great exiled emperor. This is the Island of Elba...".
With these words the documentary on our Island entitled L'Arcipelago Verde e Blu - un territorio da conoscere e valorizzare (The Green and Blue Archipelago - Territory to Discover and Appreciate) begins, showing breathtaking images of a landscape that doesn't stop to surprise, even those who know it very well.
Although Elba is the third largest Italian island, many believe that a short stay is enough to get know it. Instead, Elba is a wealth of continuous discoveries that take hold of its visitors, creating a desire to return to savour its scents and special atmosphere, to plunge into the ancient history that characterizes every inch of this strip of land. A jewel surrounded by water that sometimes seems to want to swallow it up, but which has indeed created a microcosm that gives everything that life requires. Like all the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, Elba possess the briny and terrestrial alchemy of beauty. These are lands so rich in perfume of Scotch Broom, small friendly towns, and various architectures that they lessen the geographical boundaries, and make you feel never besieged by the sea but continuously curious to discover their many faces, like the cuisine, seen as a moment to spend with friends in joy, in celebration, in remembrance, or in meditation.
Culinary arts developed by the imagination of those who transformed the products of the land and sea, often lacking in the past because of bad weather, into the finest dishes you ever tasted. Women, whose secrets and recipes handed down from mother to daughter, show how the poverty of times gone by has built a force of creativity in Elba cuisine, able to exalt the flavors and aromas of the fruits of this island. The territory has seen and developed other forms of cultural expression, inspiring famous writers such as Moravia, and painters such as Paul Klee.
Even architecture is an exciting and rich protagonist. From the 'hillside fortresses' to the remains of the 'Roman villas', stopping briefly on the significant and impressive examples of the fortified town of Portoferraio, whose walls were commissioned in 1548 by Cosimo de Medici, and the Spanish fortresses of 'St. Giacono' and 'Focardo' that defended the bay of Porto Azzurro. 'Military' architecture is yet another discovery on this island for lovers of history. The so-called 'coastal artillery', put in place in the 1920's, which transformed Elba into an 'island fortress' because of the large number of 'bunkers', so many so as to constitute a route rich with new discoveries in the most fascinating areas of the coast and the inland hills.
However, the architecture on Elba is not just military. There also older architectural styles with simple, straightforward, almost prism like buildings, generally with hut-like, tiled roofs that differed based on personal creativity and the desire to distinguish one's residence. Significant examples of modern architecture include the Villa Balmain by Leonardo Ricci and the 'elongated octagon' Villa by Giò Ponti, created when he was at the height of his expressive capacity.
Sun, sand and sea are not the only reasons to come to visit our Island. There is a myriad of reasons to choose, like the love of history, in search of the great exiled Napoleon's indelible traces, or a dive into island geology that offers a wealth of minerals and ancient memories of the grueling work of retrieving them from the bowels of the earth. Elba is the ISLAND that makes you forget the useless competition of every day life and gives you the desire to return when you step off the island onto the boat back the mainland.
By Mario Ferrari
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