The Isle of Elba our first taste of Italy

170618 4 Sailing from Corsica to Elba Italy First Fly of Italian Flag

The first time the Italian Flag has flown on Katherine 

170619 2 Portoferraio Harbour Isle Elba170619 3 Portoferraio Isle Elba This lady has the image of Italy


18th June - 21st June 


On route from St Florent Corsica to Mainland Italy is the island of Elba. Not far as the crow flies but a solid 60 miles by sea as we had to sail first up and then around the finger or is that a big toe of Corsica before crossing. A challenging sail hitting changing winds from 30 knots to nothing, 180 degree directional shifts, there was certainly no dozing on this leg. 

170620 4 Porto Azzurro Isle Elba Our first Italian Gelato



We chose the anchorage in Portoferraio thinking the marina and surrounding bay could be busy. Well we can say summer had not arrived in Portoferraio. It was incredibly quite, with space in the harbour and only a handful of boats in the bay. We did not know where all the people that were coming and going on the numerous transitting ferries were, we can confirm that they were not in Portoferraio.


Portaferraio did give us our first people picture of what I believe is quintessential Italian - a lady dressed smartly, mobile and handbag in hand, having a chat. Total Italian style on a vespa as you would expect - welcome to Italy. 

Sticking to the usual plan we spent two nights on anchor in the bay, using the dinghy to scoot across the harbour to the port. Portoferraio was fortified in the mid 16th century and its inner harbour today is surrounded by colourful houses, shops and restaurants. From the harbour everything is upwards, literally, along aged steps or steep narrow roads. 

Our first walk around Portoferraio took us up to Napolean's "Villa Dei Mulini” museum. Napoleun Bonaparte had spent much of his time in exile in this villa following an unsuccessful campaign against Russia and being forced to abdicate as the Emperor of France in1814. Up until his escape and return to Paris in March of 1815 the villa was Napolean's home. For a building of such historical importance to the island,it was surprising to see how few artefacts were on display, how little information of his history and how unkept the gardens, on the up side there was a nice view of the harbour and Barry and Kim got to see their first baby seagulls. 

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From Portoferraio we sailed around to the eastern port of Port Azzurio. Here we discovered where the people were. The harbour was a lot busier and the town a lot livelier. Here we also got to sample our first Gelato after a hot walk around the perimeter of the citadel. Barry discovered through sign language from the security guard that the citadel was a no go zone. Universal signage for “ handcuffs” was all we needed to divert our walk continuing along the cliff face with some beautiful views of the neighbouring bay and the sea across to mainland Italy. 

From Elba it was a leisurely sail on Wednesday 21st June into Marina Di Scarlino. A secure base that we planned to leave Katherine in whilst we ventured off on our self drive tour of Tuscany. For Barry and Kim the sailing side of the trip was over but no time yet to reflect on the sail just enough time to pack and prepare for our next journey. 

Touring Tuscany on a self guided self drive tour.  

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© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia