Diary of a multisport cruise

Diary of a multi-sport sailing cruise through Tuscan archipelago waters.


Diary of a multi-sport cruise between Elba and Tuscan archipelago waters.

Day 1

Elba island: Marina di Campo / Montecristo Island/ Giglio Island’s Castle

8.30 am. We’ve got an appointment in 30 minutes at the Marina di Campo small harbor: Lucio, the skipper, is waiting for us on the “no problem” for a multi sport cruise in the Tuscan archipelago. Yours mtb are ready to go wild along an amazing dirty downhill, surrounded by the Mediterranean scrub in bloom . after 10 kilometers of downhill, with bumps,parabolic curves and whirling lunges we get to the place. We cast off the ropes and we start sailing , northwest wind sways us toward Point Calamita: with our “sailing ship” we will sail through the islands of Archipelago, stopping by in some of the most beautiful and evocative places where we will do trekking tours, sea kayak, mountain bike and snorkeling. While we leave the Elban south east coast behind us, the sense of well being grows while the wind grows as well and we breathe, along with the mainsail, the priceless sense of freedom that only a sail boat with its silence played by the sea and the wind can give. The classy shape of Montecristo grows closer at the skyline and what seemed a Vulcan’s cone it’s actually a huge granite mountain. Montecristo is a totally wild island, with a height of 645 mt, and it’s a whole natural reserve where it’s not allowed to land or sail around for one mile, and only two people live there. We’re very tempted to float our kayaks in the sea, but we’re aware it’s important to follow these strict rules , so we keep on sailing to Giglio Island. Just not to get out of the habit of working hard as soon as we are in Giglio we land our bikes and we ride till the Castle, we enjoy the sunset from the bulwarks and then we go back to the harbor.

Day 2

Giglio Island: Fenaio point – Campese beach - Cappel Rosso / Elba island : Fetovaia

We get up in a lazy way, the day is totally flat for sailing , but it’s perfect for kayaking: we float them and we start the circumnavigation: we will circumnavigate the island counter clock wise , sneaking in through the rocks polished by the wind. We reach the small Arenella beach by paddling, and then the lighthouse of Fenaio Point. We go on to Point of Secche, to then carry on to the Medicean tower, that marks the beginning of Campese beach, the biggest of the island. After passing the beautiful cliff’s peak , a mild northwest wind breeze blows behind our back…we reach cappel Rosso point, where there is the other Giglio’s lighthouse : the harsh environment and the absence of any other boats make the passing of the point even more evocative. We go up the east coast: the harsh cliffs end on the Caldane beach. We we stop some tourists approach us, curious about the kayak fleet. After about half an hour we leave, as we’re getting close to the village the coast gets sweeter and there are some vineyards : we pass the Scole rocks and we get in the harbor. It’s 5.00 pm when , after loading our kayaks on board, we shove off once again towards Elba. After almost six hours sailing , we enter the Fetovaia bay, one of the most beautiful and famous of the Mediterranean. It’s midnight when we enjoy the quiet night talking about tomorrow’s schedule : kayak and mountain bike tour at Pianosa Island, jazz concert in the evening.

Day 3

Elba island: Fetovaia - Galenzana / Pianosa: Giovanna’s bay - Zolfo’s bay

We hoist the sails to go to the meeting with the motorboat Domizia, the only one with permission of sailing in Pianosa waters, as Pianosa is an island with very strict environmental constraints. Off the coast of Cape Poro we get boarded by a very fast transship , worthy of a special force, we get on board and after few minutes we enter the forbidden sea area , and the shape of Pianosa is taking shape and color. We get in the classy small deserted and in decline harbor , which immediately shows the guest the mysterious and dreamy soul of the island. We walk through the village and , once we reach the beautiful beaches of Giovanna’s bay, we float our kayaks and we start paddling on the amazing clear sea heading North, going upwards the Pianosa east coast. We sail along the short coast, full of juniper, Phoenician juniper and mastic . going on through the crystal clear waters we approach the small caves corroded by the sea , till we reach the white cliffs flat spaces where sea storms have left thousands of trunks whitened by the sun. after about forty minutes we are close to the rock of Lancia,whewre the white sand seabed brings out the turquoise shade of the sea. After passing the Maestra Point, we get in the small Zolfo’s cave and we get close to the Marchese Point, with is massive cape surrounded by rocks encrusted with salt. After passing the shoals surrounding the point, we get in the wonderful bay of the Roman harbor, with a seabed full of hidden ancient Roman wrecks . we keep on paddling along the coast to admire three huge natural arches corroded by the sea that remind of monumental architectures of lost civilizations. After a four hours tour we go back to Saint Giovanna beach ( the only area in Pianosa where bathing it’s allowed) where we have an amazing swim. After relaxing on the beach we decide to go for a bike tour: on the island there are mountain bikes perfectly stored in the now abandoned basements of the ex prison, we take five of them and we’re ready to go. The whole island, apart from the village, has been a prison for many years. We get through the arch that marked the prison area and we start riding the south side of Pianosa, overshadowed by maritime pines. As we left the coast , we go inland riding through the fruitful valley used for farming where the prison colony was active. We ride along the stables, riding through a road surrounded by drywalls and we reach the maximum security prison area, a huge and gloomy building that has influenced the last thirty years of the prison history of Pianosa. We go on towards west, surrounded by the scrub: all of a sudden in front of us, just like a mirage, we can see the small cemetery of the prisoners, built on the opposite side of the village: it’s a very touching place,very evocative. Once we’re back in the village, we ride through abandoned vineyards to enter the free zone. At 10.00 pm, along with the few people on the island, we enjoy the jazz concert while on the background, between Pianosa and Elba, a huge cruise boat has stopped and it gives the evening and even stronger Fellini’s movie mood. After the show we sail again and we reach Marina di Campo after about forty minutes: it’s about 2.00 am when we go on board of the No problem with the skipper, to rest in the quiet bay of Galenzana.

Day 4

Elba Island: Galenzana – Bishop’s cave – the blue cave - Fetovaia – Cotaccia’s bay

Today it’s even more beautiful than yesterday and it’s already very hot: we decide to take two single kayaks to sail along the south west coast of Elba, we see the Bishop’s cave and the blue cave, and then we board our kayaks in Fetovaia’s bay and we head towards Corsica: there’s not a lot wind but the flat sea make us want to go a bit further to look for cetaceans , easy to meet in this area…unfortunately we can’t see any dolphins nor whales. We slowly go back following the route for Elba and after one hour of lazy sailing we get to the gorgeous Cotaccia’s bay. We drop the anchor and we enjoy the sunset with sun going down between Corsica and Capraia. In the quiet evening the full moon and the absence of wind makes us want to float our kayak again for a paddling by night. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast, with amazing granitic cliffs going down to the sea drawing amazing shapes… the paddling by night has thrilled everybody, we float with the complete fleet : the shapes of kayaks, silvery in the moon light, get gracefully reflected in the sea. Senses are altered by the dark: rumors seem louder,even the speed seems faster than it actually is, we can hear the noise of the boat and the thrust of the paddle. Once we’re back on board, with toned muscles that smell of salt we have delicious spaghetti in the cockpit….we end the night in Colaccia’s bay.

Day 5

Elba island: Cotaccia’s bay – Pope’s cave – Saint Andrew - Marciana Marina

9.00 am: weather is similar to the day before , this morning we’ll kayak to Pope’s cave where we’ll snorkel in the dark tunnels of the cave. After paddling for twenty minutes, we reach the doorway, which is very narrow and hard to find by, once getting through the small entrance tunnel, the room is unexpectedly wide. The semi darkness and the multicolor rocks encrustations , along with water leaks, make this cave very charming. The still water seem a mirror that emphasizes the wonderful duochrome colors of the seabed. In the dark tunnels we meet see through shrimps with fluorescent eyes and a huge conger eel with a crazy look, Marzia catches my attention and with a torch lightens up a huge hermit crab with an amazing amber shell that seems to come out of an old illustrated Jules Verne’s book. Once we left the cave we warm ourselves up in the sun and we reach the Saint Andrew’s shoals where we’re going to swim along with saddled and zebra seabreams . back on board we get ready to try to spot cetaceans . 1.00 pm , dead calm and boiling hot weather, when a school of dolphins get close to us. Maila is the first one to react trying to take pics of dolphins, Paolo is grinning, they’re too far to get good photos. Around 6.00 pm the wind is eventually rising , subtle at first, then it becomes clearer and clearer and finally it’s stiff: the boat gets more energy and it gets faster and gaining strength gives the whole crew energy and vitality. We go towards north to Capraia Island and we get to Elba’s harbor of Marciana Marina where we’re going to spend the night.

Day 6

Elba Island: Marciana Marina - Monte Capanne - Poggio - Marciana Marina

7.00 am: we’re already riding our bike, Marzia, Maila , Christian and I . Lucio and Paolo we’ll join us in the early afternoon on the top of Elba going up by cableway. From the harbor of Marciana Marina we go up riding our bikes till the cableway start point. We walk up in an unusual environment for an island: there’s a typical mountain feeling, we spot several mouflons on the screes as we get closer to the top . from the top of the archipelago we enjoy the beautiful view, that goes from the Tuscan coast to Corsica, holding all the archipelago islands. Once we got to our mountain bikes we go downhill : the first hairpin bends are steep and narrow, the downhill let us enjoy a breathtaking view with a zooming effect, with Elba that gets bigger and bigger below us. We ride through the small village of Poggio with its granite staircases and then, riding a cool path surrounded by ferns,we’re back at the harbor.

Day 7

Elba island: Marciana Marina - Viticcio Portoferraio – Mice island – Palmaiola Island – Cerboli Island - Rio Marina

9.00 am : we sail towards Viticcio: once we reach the bay we float our kayaks and we go visit the spectacular Cave of Sbruffo. After doubling Cape Enfola, we get to the white beach of Sansone, where get on board of No Problem. We sail towards east, sailing along the Medicean bulwarks of Portoferraio , we go on till we pass Vita Cape and we start a cruise around Mice islands , Palmaiola and Cerboli. We go back to Rio Marina Harbor in the evening.

Day 8

Elba island: Rio Marina – the mines – Fortress of Giogo - Mount Giove - Mount Calendozio – Caldo cape – Calamita point - Marina di Campo

8.30 am: this morning we will go in the mine park of rio marina with our mountain bikes. The east side of Elba island has got an extremely important mineralogical heritage from a historical and geological point of view, the mineral extraction of iron has started with Etruscan and it’s been going on for almost two thousand years, shaping the territory. We get in, riding through a huge cave with bright colors, and we ride on reddish paths in a surreal landscape, meeting rusty wrecks of huge bulldozers and excavators. We ride on a technical path that leads us to downhill wells, and then we go up to the Fortress of Giogo on Mount Giove, where there’s a spectacular view of the whole mine site. We go down again, surrounded by the Mediterranean scrub, to the old engine garages. Riding along a sequence of breathtaking views , excited by the contrast between the bloody colors of the ground and the blue sky and sea, we reach the minerals half pipe. Our bikes are shiny because of mineral flakes , we go back to the boat and we sail towards Calamita point. We stop after passing Caldo Cape, for a snorkeling tour looking for a school of barracudas that usually swim in this area: when they’re all together they look like a silvery submarine. Once we passed Calamita point , we sail toward Marina di Campo gulf once again, where our sport and nature week between the islands of Tuscan Archipelago comes to an end.

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