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Isola d'Elba e Aecipelago Toscano
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Tuscan Archipelago >> Geography
 
Geography, Morphology and Climate
Apart from Pianosa, which morphology is well indicated by its name, all islands of the Tuscan archipelago are mountainous with an irregular coast-line with mortises, sand bays, creeks and inaccessible cliffs which have been modelled by the blustering winds and strong waves. The morphologic characteristics of the Tuscan islands come from their volcanic origins which have given the island of Elba a top that is more than 1000 m high, the Capanne mountain, which today completes the tourist program and allows the visitors to alternate relax on the famous beaches with adventures along the paths on the steep slopes of the mountain and extreme sports such as free climbing. The rivers and the fountains have always supplied the inhabitants and the agriculture with water, apart from Giannutri which is completely dry. The climate of the Tuscan islands is extremely mild, subtropical and therefore characterised by warm summers and very humid winters. Rain falls irregularly and during there is often long dry periods during the summer, while it is possible to see the highest tops covered with snow which melts after a few hours during really cold winters. The winds, especially on the small islands, are useful for the dissemination and the homogenisation of the vegetal species. It could be reason why there are plants from Corsica and Sardinia on the island of Capraia.
granito magnetite limonite
scisto berillio dolomia
Geology - Minerals
The ground of the islands of the archipelago is definitely rich in minerals, a natural museum for curious and interested people and a "Mecca" for mineral scientists. The minerals have determined the economic and historic events of the archipelago, especially on Elba and Giglio, which are the islands with the highest quantity and selection of minerals. If Giglio is famous for the elegant grey-green granite, rich in feldspar, quartz, mica and thurmaline, the island of Elba holds a high quantity of iron and has given it its most ancient name, Aethalia, which means "spark", as those jumping sparks close to the ovens where the precious mineral was worked. The extraction and the working of the mineral started to become important for Elba from the beginning of the Mediterranean civilisation. The precious objects of the Etruscans and the more refined ones by the Italics were made with iron from the Elban mines. Then it was the turn of the Greeks who sailed the Mediterranean and knew that there was an island between Corsica and Etruria so rich in iron that it could never finish. Obviously the reality is completely different from the legend and the last mine on Elba was closed in 1981. Though no more minerals are extracted and the iron is no longer forged, the minerals still are one of the most important resources of Elba. Though spades and helmets are not forged anymore, the ground still attracts scientists and collecters. Bronze, azurite, malachite, cuprite, hematite, ilvaite, limonite, iron, magnetite, quartz, granite, orthoclase, beryl and thurmaline are the most common minerals, and the presence of these minerals makes the islands of the archipelago an open mineral museum that is so important that it is on UNESCO's list over geologic sites. There is also a plan to create a cultural park in order to protect this unique treasure. Even if you are not scientifically interested in minerals you can still enjoy the great aesthetic and landscape effects that the minerals offer. If you want to explore the world of the granite, there is a quite difficult, but fascinating path, that starts in Borgo di San Piero, at the foot of Monte Capanne and ends at the Mulino del Moncione. Along the path, you can admire fascinating landscapes, as the one from Pietra Murata where you can see Pianosa, Montecristo and Corsica, and you can distinguish the typical vine-yards of Elba on the green granite and semi-worked block terraces, the remains of an activity which flourished already during the Middle Ages. The glittering colours, due to the presence of iron, characterise the north-west part of the island. It is the part that surrounds Rio Elba, the capital of the extraction. The path from Rio Elba to Fortezza di Giove, which goes back to the 14th century, passes abandoned mineral mines where the water is ochre and red. In Rio Elba you can also visit the Elban Mineral Museum "Alfeo Ricci" which hosts more than 700 examples that, together with the "Erisia Gennai Tonietti" collection in the Town Hall of Rio Marina which holds around 1000 pieces, completes the mineral panorama of the island. In Portoazzurro you are able to enjoy a particular experience visiting the a reconstruction of a typical Elban mine in a train for 250 metres. Historic findings, old machinery and a complete collection of typical minerals allow you to experience the daily life in a mine and to get to know the extraction techniques which are no longer used. Another interesting visit is the experimental park of old iron metallurgy, in La Chiusa, close to Portoferraio. Here you can see different types of old ovens which have been reconstructed in their real size, like the "Catalan" ovens, used by the primitive civilisations. It is basically a deep hole with stones on the sides. Or the high ovens which are ovens on the ground which were a later invention.

Photos from APT Tuscan Archipelago and Mediaweb srl.
 
Villaggio Innamorata Isola d'Elba
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