Length: approximately 13 km
How long it takes:about 5 hours
Level of difficulty:medium-easy
A fantastic excursion along the north-western coast of the Island of Elba, that grants you breathtaking views of the blue sea, with many different scents of the Mediterranean bush in the air all around you and the beauty of colourful flowers in full bloom everywhere.
From start to finish the entire route links roads, paths and mule tracks, so make sure beforehand you know exactly where you're going in order to avoid getting mixed up (roads are often not signposted). In the past, these alleys and paths on the southern slopes of Monte Capanne were the only way to get from one village to another, from one farm to another and from one vineyard to another.
You start off at Fenicia beach in Marciana Marina then you follow a coastal road for 150 metres, until you get up to La Ripa. Here you keep going along the main road for about 100 metres, then take the path on your right and you will soon join up with the main road again where you go uphill until you get to the first houses in La Ripa.
Hint from Infoelba: before continuing we suggest you take a short detour along the main road until you see the sign Punta della Madonna;if you do so, you will soon get to one of the most beautiful scenic points on the Island of Elba. The cliffs have a sheer drop right down right to the sea and you can see from the coast of Ripa Barata as far as Capo Sant'Andrea, with the islands of Capraia and Corsica on the horizon. It is thought that the name "Punta della Madonna" was given to this area by the old fishermen who, on their return from Marciana Marina, could see the Madonna del Monte Sanctuary in the distance once they got to this very point.
Shortly before you get to the houses in Ripa Barata, take the mule track to your left, and as you go along the remains of what used to be terracings, you will get to a crossroads (if, on the other hand, you have decided to take the detour, the path will be on your right).
Follow the signs for La Cala then cross the grit road and you will see the path on your right a little further along.
There are clearings from time to time in the bushy woods that enable you to catch and admire some suggestive glimpses of the view of the creeks along the coast. Once you get to the houses in La Cala (you can only get here on foot or by sea), the scenery all around seems set in pastoral times of the past: The Hotel Andreina (closed down for some time now), ancient terracings, tiny strorerooms and farming machinery of the past.
The road continues with the scent of rosemary bushes all around until you reach the crossroads with a big ditch in La Cala: here you turn right and you will get to the tiny La Cala beach, and during the summer, if you feel hot and tired during the walk, just go into the water for a refreshing swim to help you cool down; your walk is now along tight, uphill bends.
Although the climb is quite steep in some parts it isn't very long, and as well as having a fantastic view of the coast both of Cala and that of Ripa barata, you will get to the tiny hamlet of La Conca in no time. Follow via Maciarello and keep going along the main road for about ten minutes until you get to number 36 and the sign for Sant' Andrea.
. Here the path goes deep into the Mediterranean bush, and towards the end you will see the coastline of Sant'Andrea in the distance with the magnificent blue sea that stretches as far as the Hotel L'Oleandro.
Via del Cotoncello, that runs through houses and lanes and yards with fences, is on the right immediately after the hotel, and it will then get you to the top of the high cliffs of Cotoncello that in spring are covered in fields of colourful flowers in full bloom and Hottento fig trees. One last last short descent and you will get to the cliffs and tiny beach of Cotoncello.
A pleasant surprise awaits you here: in order to get to Sant'Andrea beach you need to walk along the truly suggestive coast and across several tiny wooden foot bridges built on the rocks.
Suggestion from Infoelba: Why not continue as far as Patresi that is only 5 km away, you just need to keep going from Sant'Andrea and follow the road from the beach towards La Zanca then follow the road along the coast of Cotaccia.
Heading back just go in the opposite direction as far as the houses in La Conca (at the end of via Maciarello). From here you can go a different way back: what is known as the 100 Scents Route.
Follow the wide and easy mule track on your right and go past the rocks across Fosso della Cala - you went past on your outward journey - until you get to the the country house that belongs to Bartoli. There is still a large, old wine vat inside the building because there used to be many terracings and vineyards in the area.
Just past the house you will see a junction (not signposted) and here take the path to your right and keep going till you get to a crossroads: if you turn left, direction La Cala, you will be back on the same route you did before, if on the other hand you turn right you will be going uphill towards Marciana, then downhill for Marciana Marina.
Go past another farm house and you will get to a downhill path on your left in the Cappone valley.
At the beginning theMediterranean bush is quite thick with many rock roses, strawberry trees, broom and myrtle plants in the area, but it thins out as you go along and the descent becomes much easier; keep going until you get to the first houses in Marciana Marina.
Now you only need to follow the main road and you will get right back to where you started.
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P. IVA e C.F. 01130150491 - capitale sociale €10.000,00 i.v. - registro imprese numero 01130150491 - REA: LI - 100635