Departure: Marciana (408 m a.s.l.);
Length: 15,8 km;
Difficulty level: medium;
Difference of level: 610 m;
Type of ground: paths and mule tracks;
Interest: historical, naturalistic and geological
From Medieval Marciana, the highest town in Elba, high up on the noth slope of the granite mountain Monte Capanne, you go along narrow lanes and reach the fortress built about the year 1200. Then head off along the easy path that goes across the green valley of Pedalta as far as the San Cerbone Hermitage (531 m), built by the Benedictines in 1421 near the grotto where the hermit spent the last years of his life.
The road up to Capanne, the highest peak on the island,starts along a path beneath the chestnut trees, where you might even see some moufflons; keep going over steep "macei" (large broken-off slabs of granite) among holm oaks, and be careful not to lose your way.
About 40 minutes after you have left the hermitage you will come across a "caprile", an old shepherds' shelter made from stones, and a "chiuso" (pen for the herds); here the path becomes more scenic, and domineering the lush Nivera valley, it takes you to the peak of Monte Capanne. On a clear day the view of Elba is priceless, and you can see other islands of the Archipelago too, as well as Corsica and a good bit of the Tuscan coast, thus making your efforts more than worthwhile.
Now you go down quickly to Filicaie (870 m), a small plateau halfway between Capanne and Mount Calanche, and head for the shelters at the foot of the rocks in the Grottaccia (647m); cross the bare ridge of Cenno, where moufflons live under the watchful eyes of the buzzards and peregrine hawks, until you get to the ancient stone village of Mure (631m), Elba's largest high ground fortification. The village, inhabited by Villanovan settlers, was destroyed by the Syracusans in 453 BC and never rebuilt. All that remains of the original structure are a good part of the surrounding walls and many levigated stones, used later by the shepherds to build their "caprili" and "chiusi".
The descent continues in the Poio valley, with a stream that continues to flow even during the summer, giving rise to many suggestive tiny waterfalls and pools. Over the years, this large valley above Pomonte was completely terraced off from the sea up to 640 metres above sea level and vines were grown; today , most of them have been abandoned but they continue to be witnesses of the hard work of the farmers. Your excursion finishes in Pomonte, with its white houses looking on to a crystal clear sea.
Information and Photographs from the Tuscan Archipelago Tourism Promotion Offices