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Hidden corners in a tourist sea. Islands converted into ecological reserves. Places to enjoy tranquility and little human contact. Discretion in the Mediterranean itself.
The closest beach to the port is La Courtade, the largest. But the most beautiful and impressive is Notre Dame, the image of that true essence of the French Riviera. The vineyards are a fundamental part of the island, due to its history and territorial occupation.
France or Italy have islands that preserve the Mediterranean essence of bright landscapes and calm sea. Fine white sand beaches and few visitors. Soft and steep landscapes that invite you to delight in calm, without crowds. Porquerolles and Isla de Cavallo, in France, and Pianosa and Elba, in Italy, are small islands to enjoy untamed nature. Places with history and calm beauty.
The French secret islands
In the south-east of France, facing the glamorous French Riviera, Porquerolles is a totally environmentally friendly haven. It is the largest of the Hyéres , a traditionally French island, owned by the Government in 80% percent of its territory. It is part of the Port-Cros National Park , where the means of transport is the bicycle. Pedaling you get to any of the many wineries scattered around the island or to the beaches and coves, of turquoise water, that border it. A landscape of clean and lonely sandbanks, limestone cliffs, oak, eucalyptus, pine and wild grass.
The closest beach to the port is La Courtade , the largest. But the most beautiful and impressive is Notre Dame , the image of that true essence of the French Riviera. The vineyards are a fundamental part of the island, due to its history and territorial occupation.
The small island hides a tiny 19th century village. In the early 20th century, a wealthy Belgian explorer bought the island for his wife, planted vineyards, and built Le Mas du Langoustier, a peach-toned farmhouse currently converted into a hotel.
Another secret island, with French roots, is Cavallo Island , with restricted access. A tiny piece of French land, an intruder between Corsica and Sardinia. Isla de Cavallo is an impressive cluster of rounded rocks known as the Isla de los Millonarios. A private property with only golf carts, electric cars and bicycles. A tremendously ecological space with ideal beaches to avoid tourists and onlookers. A paradise for diving lovers with exclusive hotels and villas.
Discreet Italian Islands
Elba is a Natural Park. The island of Tuscany is one of the pearls in the crown of Venus. Elba welcomed the exile chosen by Napoleon to renew forces. Today, it is an ideal place for sunbathing, diving or hiking. Many of the trekking routes end at Mount Capanne , the highest peak. The usual starting point is Marciana.
Elba’s oldest and highest village is at the foot of an abandoned fortress. Marciana offers a glimpse of the beautiful landscapes of the coast, in exchange for walking between arches and balconies overlooking the precipice. The Della Madonna del Monte sanctuary is a place of pilgrimage. Her 13th century Madonna Assunta is painted on a stone block. A suggestive and peaceful sanctuary, an excellent viewpoint to the sea and a strategic point. Very close to the temple, during the early days of French rule, the Gauls built a telegraph station to communicate over long distances. Napoleon had a great weakness for the place.
The emperor’s footprint is palpable throughout the island. His summer residence in San Martino is located on hills with beautiful views and houses a museum for temporary exhibitions. Napoleon had his habitual residence in the Palazzo de Mulini , in Portoferraio, the capital of the island. It is currently the headquarters of the Museo Nazionale delle Residenze Napoleoniche. A nineteenth century palace, which has halls decorated with empire-style furniture, the impressive Napoleon library and a beautiful garden decorated with Greek statues and magnificent views of the sea.
A walk through Portoferraio takes us into the old town and shows us the steep ascents to the Fortress of Forte Ferraro and Forte Stella. The Medici Scalinata rises up to the 16th century Church of Mercy, which guards Napoleon’s death mask.
Very close to Elba, a boat ride away, the Tuscan coast hides a small uninhabited treasure. A narrow dark blue stripe over the horizon that earned it the name of Isla Pianosa (flat). A “flat” island with rocky and sandy coasts, like Cala de San Giovani. Inhabited since Prehistory, the island preserves some catacombs from the 3rd century BC.
Pianosa Island was occupied by pirates and fishing colonies until it became a maximum security prison in the 19th century. Later, the lack of neighbours led to the conservation of their natural spaces. It preserves exuberant vegetation, flora and a small variety of fauna.
The most appreciated are its seabed, where gigantic crabs, breams, dolphins and some turtles coexist. It is an area protected by the authority of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and it is not possible to enter freely. Daily visitor numbers are limited.
Source: El Espanol