A Tuscan Secret - Elba Island
Elba Island is located off the coast of Tuscany just south of Livorno and Pisa.
You get to this is island by car ferry from Piombino takes about 45 mins to 1 hour depending on the ferry, there are several ferry companies and they depart every hour or less. It pays to book you ferry ticket in advance in the summer to not be disappointed. The ferry ride alone is a lot of fun.
I have been to this island several times once in the peak of summer and several times before and towards the end of summer. It is loaded with stunning beach after beach, it is not overrun with tourists, the prices are much lower for dining out and hotels. The pace of life here is much slower like Sardinia or Corsica.
This is an all time favorite place of mine to stay when i come i always stay in the same place as its absolutely stunning, the drive there is a little hairy if you suffer at all from vertigo as there are many cliff side roads to get there but oh my it is worth it.
Hotel da Giacomino
This hotel is in a perfect location in Saint Andrea, with may of the great beaches of Elba a short drive around the corner, not to mention its own amazing beach/bay.
The rooms are large, and well appointed, however the beds and the pillow are very firm. The rooms with a sea view are the best, the hotel is a little dated but the location makes up for this 1000 times over, they have a fantastic pool, overlooking the sea, and you can get to the ocean down some stairs in front of the hotel.
Swimming off the smooth rocks is the norm here, and the water is crystal clear and inviting ( even in May/October ) there is also a small beach in what you could call the town, with two snack bars and one amazing seafood restaurant, food at this restaurant is off the chart "amazing" and not expensive, the fried anchovies a must have dish, the hotel also offers a dinner option as well if you don't feel like making the short 300 mtr walk to the beach, however you are required to decided some hours before dinner the choice you wish to eat ( 3 options). The included breakfast is adequate, however the coffee is not great, but drinkable. Its great to sit on the hotel terrace and have pre dinner drinks and watch the sun set right in front of the hotel, a good stiff gin and tonic with the free snacks provide, then a slow wander to the town to eat is just the perfect way to end a day of swimming and sun worshiping. The hotel is absolute value for money compared to other sea front locations as stunning as this. Room rates of only 90 - 100 euro a night with breakfast included is a steal for this amazing family run hotel. You step back in time here.