‘Elba stole my heart – and inspired my latest novel’

Best known for Napoleon’s exile, Italy’s third-largest island also offers pretty beaches, good diving, charming towns and great food, says author Emylia Hall

Piombino, on Italy’s Tuscan coast, makes an unlikely gateway to paradise, with its abandoned steelworks and concrete port. Elba lies six miles from the mainland, part of the Tuscan archipelago, and during the summer ferries depart for the island all day, every day. Its capital, Portoferraio, is a town built in fruit-bowl colours, with a hilltop fort and the flash of a white marina.

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