Portoferraio is the largest and capital city of the Italian island of Elba. It lies on the northern coast of the island, about 25km from the mainland. In 2010 it has about 12,000 inhabitants. There is a large port and many monuments from the 16th century. The old port was already used by Etruscans. At the modern waterfront you can visit any of the restaurants, cafes and pizzerias. You should not forget to taste the local seafood specialties, and traditional seafood dishes. At each step there is a small shop with souvenirs and craftwork.
In the city you can walk through the narrow cobbled streets full of stairs and steps. Portoferraio is also known for its numerous old churches. Since the city was reconstructed in 1548 in a military style, its main attractions are fortresses Stella, Falcone and Bastion della Linguella. Another interesting sights are the Church of Reverend Mercy and Napoleon’s museum. In the old city there is also one the residences of Napoleon. If you rent a car or a motorcycle in Portoferraio, you can take a circuit around the island and visit some of the most interesting places, including hidden and remote beaches. Portoferraio has good ferry connections with Livorno, Piombino and with many other islands of the Tuscan archipelago.
In the area of Portoferraio there are one of the most popular beaches for scuba diving. However the whole island of Elba is actually a paradise for divers. Therefore you can find almost everywhere a dive shop, where you can add an oxygen or rent diving equipment. Even if you have no experience with diving and would like to try it, you can subscribe to any of the courses in the local diving schools. The local beach has a gentle declivity towards the sea, which is especially appreciated by families with small children and less able-bodied swimmers. Swimming is allowed in the crystal clear water of the Ligurian Sea.
You can try out a variety of water sports such as windsurfing, paragliding, water skiing, scooters and pedal boats. The port city of Portoferraio is also an ideal place for sailing, there are regularly held international sailing races.
Not surprisingly, Portoferraio fascinated visitors since the Middle Ages, however the increasing number of tourists is the only disadvantage of this great island.
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