Hiking Elba’s hidden coves, Italy

20190809_102552831919530.jpgThere are times that I am grateful that I know as much Italian as I do and I know Mark is too. A holiday to Italy is an opportunity for Mark to, seriously, down tools.

He can legitimately hold up hid hands and say,‘ i can’t help, sorry.’

I don’t think we’ve managed a holiday yet where there hasn’t been some sort of small disaster, so why should this holiday have been any different.

Getting back from Florence proved problematic with a technical fault on the train, we were forced to leap from it and hurtle four platforms down to a train that was about to leave. The announcement that we needed to vacate the train was only delivered in Italian so it was only me that was able to grasp what was going on and the same was true 30 minutes later when we were also asked to leave the next train too. I found myself collecting other non-Italian speaking passengers.

Mark forgetting his contact lenses and being able to obtain some was another problem that I had to solve or see the shine taken off the trip for him and the children. Having learnt my Italian as a child there are many words and phrases I don’t know, I had to learn fast and think on my feet which, at times is stressful and tiring- my linguistic skills don’t always come easy.

With all this behind us, we were set for a few disaster-free days on Elba, really what could go wrong?

We’d researched plenty before leaving the UK and knew that there was some good walking to be had on Elba, meaning we wouldn’t be stuck with just a beach holiday. Elba offered us the opportunity to mix it up- something for everyone.


With a backpack filled with water and snorkels, we set off into the hills. It had taken us so long to get sorted and out the door that we found ourselves hiking at midday-not the best move. We were soon sweating and gasping as we climbed higher out of Cavo into the woodland.

The children enjoyed listening out for the scurry of tiny feet and spotting the geckos before they dashed for cover in the undergrowth, we collected pine cones and admired the view. We were out in the great outdoors and we were loving it.

At the midpoint, we found a mausoleum belonging to the Tonietti family. Derelict and abandoned, it had never fulfilled its objective as permission was never granted for its intended use as a family crypt. We came up with our own ideas of who owned it and why and we soon had the makings of a great pirate tale.

with a view like that why wouldn’t you want this as your final resting place

Ruined by vandals and not looked after by the local council its been left to the elements and isn’t the safest place to be, none the less we went in to explore.

We continued on our hike through the woods popping out on to the other side to glorious sea views with not a cloud to blite the sky. A gentle breeze blew and I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful scene anywhere – this was heaven.

Being quite a way above sea level we needed to hike down to the small cove for a swim and we hoped we’d have it to ourselves. The route down wasn’t the most exciting and we had to road walk to the bottom. Another abandoned building made its appearance: a world war two gun turret. The gun was no longer there and the circular building was full of rubbish probably washed in by the tide.

After a quick lesson on World War two, we continued down to the beach. We’d found our own private haven, well almost there were four other people there but if we faced the other way we couldn’t see them!

The rock underfoot was very unforgiving, hard, rough and sharp; walking to the water’s edge was a ginger affair. With no boats to dredge up the seabed the water was incredibly clear, we soon found ourselves floating face down over an incredible underwater world that I can only liken to swimming in an aquarium. Fsh big and small swam beneath us unphased by our presence. It excited all of us, we were enraptured by it, our £25 snorkels from decathlon had been well worth the expense. I had thought buying four was exessive but being able to enjoy the experience together was priceless and we highly recommend them.


This had only been our recking hike and because of that, we weren’t equipt with lunch or enough water to spend the rest of the day in the cove. With a promise to return, I left the children with Mark in the water to enjoy a last few minutes before heading back.

I’d already cut my foot on the rocks and needed to find a painless way to leave the water without injuring it any further, Mark suggested I sit in the surf and shuffle out. I was about to do just that when a wave knocked me off my feet forcing me face-first towards the jagged rocks.

To the sound of mark yelling, “don’t scratch your mask!” 

I was dragged along by the water, unable to fight back and hoping for the best I just had to go with it. The wave finally released its claim on me but not before slamming me into the unyielding rocks. A little breathless but believing myself and my mask to be unharmed I stood, deciding that maybe shuffling out wasn’t the best option.

The water around me had turned a strange shade of bluey/ pink, blood poured from my hand so freely that my palm and my fingers were coated in it, the cuts were deep, very deep. The rocks were so sharp they had gone through my flesh as easily as going through butter. Unsatisfied with cutting my hand, the rock had also taken a fair chunk out of my leg. I’m only greatful that sharks don’t frequent the waters of Elba or I’d have been a gonner!


A few days into the healing process, now in september it still isn’t healed fully.

First mistake: no rock shoes

second mistake: no first aid kit.

Our little hike and swim came to an abrupt end, we were a good hour away from town and the blood flowed so profusely I was dripping it everywhere. All the surrounding rock pools were tinged pink and it showed no signs of stopping. With a bit of ingenuity using a baby wipe, Mark fashioned me a couple of gauze pads, dried me, dressed me and we hiked back hoping I didn’t need stitches.

The sun was at its highest point in the sky, everyone was hot, sweaty and thirsty but with only so much water we had to be a little conservative. Another opportunity to teach the children about sensible hiking and survival skills. The prospect of drinking their own pee didn’t fill them with joy funnily enough –  we’ll leave that particular survival skill for another day.

To avoid having to visit a hospital ( it would have meant a trip to the mainland), Dr. Mark made me some butterfly strips out of plasters to hold the skin together on my hand long enough for it to start to heal. We’d learnt a valuable lesson: never assume things will be ok, take a few essential pieces of kit just in case. I was so lucky, it could have been so much worse.

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Before it all went wrong!


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