Thursday, July 25, 2019

A Run/Hike on Elba - Nisportino and the Pietre Rosse Trail, Rio nell’Elba

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Run route above Nisportino Elba reported on ViewRanger.View above La Rivercina beach toward Portoferraio.View over Spiaggia dei Mangani with colored Mediterranean macchia.
Left: Run route above Nisportino Elba reported on ViewRanger. Center: View above La Rivercina beach toward Portoferraio. Right: View over Spiaggia dei Mangani with colored Mediterranean macchia.

Overview


Length: 7.35 km (4.6 mi)
Duration: 2.25 hours (We ran for about ½ the distance. Time also includes a 20 minute swim at Spiaggia dei Mangani.)
Elevation: 526 m (1726 ft) gain
Location: Nisportino, Rio nell’Elba, LI, Tuscany, Italy

Details


This post describes the second of two run/hikes we did while staying on Elba. The first hike was A Run/Hike – Monte Strega, Rio nell’Elba. Like the first hike, we did this run/hike as early in the morning as possible to avoid the heat. Nisporto and Nisportino are on the west side of a mountain range so they are shaded in the early morning, which helps with early morning physical activities.

Does Nisportino mean little Nisporto? At least that’s the way diminutives should work in Italian. Nisportino is indeed smaller and Nisporto larger. Nisportino doesn't have boats anchored in its waters and Nisporto does. Nisportino is slightly more upscale. We were staying in Nisporto but found ourselves liking Nisportino a bit more as a beach and place to go, especially with the nice restaurant Ristorante Pizzeria Bar "La Battigia" (breakfast, lunch and dinner). It's about a 10 minute drive between the two even if swimming between the beached is under 2 km. We tried it.

Side note: We don’t know much about money laundering in Italy, but we have noted that among our Italian friends there is a consistent vein of thought and it is this: if a restaurant in the north* has a lot of staff that seem to come from the south of Italy (and our friends say they can tell), has low prices, then there is a good chance the restaurant is a front money laundering business. During our stay on Elba (which is in Tuscany), a restaurant that “seemed” to be Tuscan owned was looked at more favorably than one that satisfied some of the criteria given above.
* Let's not start on what even constitutes "north".  
We went looking. According to ANSSAIF, from the most recent “… official estimate (2014), the total size of Italy’s black market is estimated to be 12.4 percent of GDP (approximately €210 billion or $229 billion). The actual share may be larger.” That's a sizable chunk of the GDP. In an article from La Stampa, it is estimated that 5,000 restaurants in the province of Napoli alone are in the hands of organized crime. La Stampa article continues with examples of shuttered restaurants in Torino, Rome, and Milan, so the problem is across Italy. 
Why a restaurant you might wonder? Because it’s a cash-intensive business where illegal cash can be easily combined with legal cash. Also, staff jobs in an “owned” restaurant can be doled out to family or those loyal to the organization. Finally, some restaurants start as legal, but due to loans that can’t be paid back to organized crime organizations they become “owned”. Downturns in the economy and reduced bank lending lead people to other sources of loans. Hmm, maybe our Italian friends are right?

Back to the run/hike. Here’s what we did:

  1. This route goes counterclockwise, starting and ending at the beach in Nisportino.
  2. From Nisportino beach head east by southeast on Via Nisportino, always climbing to find a trail (approximately at 42.830644, 10.392829).
  3. Leaving the asphalt, take the wide trail (it may be called 101) to the crest of the mountain and the “piazza” on the crest of the mountain separating Nisporto/Nisportino from Rio nell’Elba. The piazza is a pull off the main road just north of Monte Strega. It is really a dirt space where many trails intersect and bicyclists, motorcyclists, walkers, and runners naturally congregate.
  4. From this high point, take trail the GTE, heading north and start descending. The GTE or “Grande Traversata Elba” is a 60 km mountain bike path that runs from Chiessi in the west of the island to Cavo in the northeast of the island.
  5. Follow the trail passing around something called Case Nardelli and then hit an open space for transmission lines and go slightly uphill to SP 33.
  6. From there look for the signs for either Spiagga dei Mangani or trail 265 and head west toward the beach. You are passing through leccio or Quercus ilex.
  7. At the beach, take a swim and enjoy the isolation of Spiaggia dei Mangani.
  8. With shoes back on head south toward Nisportino, just another 15 -20 minutes away to arrive at where you started. The track between Spiaggia dei Mangani and Nisportino is quite high up and offers some great shots o the coast looking toward Portoferraio.

Why is it called the Pietre Rosse? From the red rocks cliffs of Punta dei Mangani. Standing on the Spiaggia dei Mangani, you can see the contrasting colors. On the left the red promontory of Punta dei Mangani and on the right, the white limestone edges of Monte Grosse.

Side note: Yet another endorsement for MAPS.ME and their offline capabilities. Really, they don’t pay us to endorse them! But this app is a lifesaver in terms of navigating with or without network. Without network, Google Maps is a nightmare. With network, Google Maps just doesn’t have the detail like MAPS.ME. Sure, Google Maps gives you the weather and traffic and other bits of info. But that’s not what you need when you are in the middle of nowhere with no cell coverage and you need to know which way to go. There are other more “serious” navigation apps for sure, but MAPS.ME works for most common offline situations.


Trail marker 265 - Percorso Pietre Rosse.Making our way up from Spiaggia dei Mangani, Elba.A sign describing the Percorso Pietre Rosse.
Left: Trail marker 265 - Percorso Pietre Rosse. Center: Making our way up from Spiaggia dei Mangani, Elba. Right: A sign describing the Percorso Pietre Rosse.

ViewRanger distance, speed, duration, and altitude profiles.Spiaggia dei Mangani and the trail to Nisportino.
Left: ViewRanger distance, speed, duration, and altitude profiles. Right: Spiaggia dei Mangani and the trail to Nisportino.

The trail takes you through a forest of leccio - Quercus ilex.Sign for the GTE. The trail on the ridge of the hill above Nisporto/Nisportino Elba.
Left: The trail takes you through a forest of leccio - Quercus ilex. Center: Sign for the GTE. Right: The trail on the ridge of the hill above Nisporto/Nisportino Elba.

View toward Monte Capanne in the distance - the highest point on Elba at 1019 m (3343 ft).View from GTE looking west down toward NIsportino (which is hidden).Spiaggia dei Mangani, Elba,  from the trail.
Left: View toward Monte Capanne in the distance - the highest point on Elba at 1019 m (3343 ft). Center: View from GTE looking west down toward NIsportino (which is hidden). Right: Spiaggia dei Mangani, Elba,  from the trail.

Panorama of Spiagga dei Mangani, Elba.Spiaggia dei Mangain and the red Punta dei Mangani.
Left: Panorama of Spiagga dei Mangani, Elba. Right: A peaceful beach: Spiaggia dei Mangain and the red Punta dei Mangani.

View of Spiaggi and Punta dei Mangani.Looking back from Pietre Rosse trail toward the beach.Looking back from Pietre Rosse trail toward the beach.
Left: View of Spiaggi and Punta dei Mangani. Center and left: Looking back from Pietre Rosse trail toward the beach.

On the trail near Punta delle Casette, just before coming to Nisportino.Nisportino beach from Punta delle Casette.
Left: On the trail near Punta delle Casette, just before coming to Nisportino. Right: Nisportino beach from Punta delle Casette.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Run/Hike on Elba - Monte Strega, Rio nell’Elba

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Run route above Nisporto Elba reported on ViewRanger.On the mountain crest looking down on NisportoTrail 253 above Nisporto Elba.
Left: Run route above Nisporto Elba reported on ViewRanger. Center: On the mountain crest looking down on Nisporto. Right: Trail 253 above Nisporto Elba.

Overview


Length: 9.91 km (6.15 mi)
Duration: 1.5 hours (We ran for about ½ of the distance.)
Elevation: 599 m (1965 ft) gain
Location: Nisporto, Rio nell’Elba, LI, Tuscany, Italy

Details


This post describes a run/hike we did while staying on Elba in Nisporto for a few days. The lure of the nearby Monte Strega was strong and called to us to explore. And we did. We got up one morning as early as we could muster to try and beat the heat and we climbed out of Nisporto to the top of Monte Strga. Obviously, the route we did can be done walking and would be more enjoyable, and you’d have time for more photos!

For another hike we did on Elba see: A Run/Hike on Elba - Nisportino and the Pietre Rosse Trail, Rio nell’Elba.

Elba is the third largest island in Italy, after Sicily and Sardinia. There is a lot to explore on this island and even in our second time here, we barely scratched the surface. Elba is part of the province of Livorno (what we call Leghorn in English), which is part of the region of Tuscany. The island probably rings a bell for most as the place Napoleon was exiled to in 1814 – 1815. He only stayed 10 months but seemed to have carried out a lot of reforms and improvements to the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Nisporto is a small district that is part of the town Rio nell’Elba, though the two are separated by a mountain range and it takes 15 – 20 minutes by car to travel between them. If the shape of Elba is a fish swimming west, then Nisporto and Rio nell’Elba are located the upper back fin of said fish and are separated by mountain range reaching 427 m (1400 ft).

Here’s a rundown of what to do to follow the run/walk described here.

  1. This route goes counterclockwise, starting and ending in Nisporto.
  2. Take the asphalt road Via Nisporto south toward Bagnaia. This is a steady uphill climb that eventually flattens out and goes down slightly.
  3. At a certain you reach a sign that signals trail 253 “Innesto GTE”, which means connector for the GTE. The GTE stands for “Grande Traversata Elba”, a 60 km mountain bike path that runs from Chiessi in the west of the island to Cavo in the northeast of the island.
  4. Take trail 253 – always climbing – until you reach a saddle with a few choices. Just off to the east and down is Rio nell’Elba. You instead, will take the trail going north that continues up toward Monte Strega.
  5. Upon reaching Monte Strega, stop and admire the view on your high point on this trip at 427 m (1400 ft).
  6. Descend quickly from Monte Strega to reach another saddle and the main asphalt road running between Nisporto and Rio nell’Elba. This location has a large pull-out area and is a frequent gathering place for bicyclists, motorcyclists, and walkers. A number of trails intersect at this point.
  7. Take the road back down into Nisporto.
If you weren’t staying in Nisporto and were coming from elsewhere, you could leave your car at the saddle described in #6 above. But then again, why not leave the car in Nisporto and be able to take a swim after all the effort?

Sign for trail 253.Trail signs above Nisporto indicating GTE and Monte Strega.ViewRanger distance, speed, duration, and altitude profiles.

Left: Sign for trail 253. Center: Trail signs above Nisporto indicating GTE and Monte Strega. Right: ViewRanger distance, speed, duration, and altitude profiles.

On the road to Bagnaia.View from trail 253 toward Castello del Volterraio.Last push up to Monte Strega.
Left: On the road to Bagnaia. Center: View from trail 253 toward Castello del Volterraio. Right: Last push up to Monte Strega.

Looking south along the spine of the mountains between Rio nell'Elba and Nisporto.View from road to Bagnaia toward Portoferraio.The winding road leading to Nisporto, which is part of the route.
Left: Looking south along the spine of the mountains between Rio nell'Elba and Nisporto. Center: View from road to Bagnaia toward Portoferraio. Right: The winding road leading to Nisporto, which is part of the route.

View west over Nisporto with Portoferraio in distance.Jogging into Nisporto and heading toward the beach.
Left: View west over Nisporto with Portoferraio in distance. Right: Jogging into Nisporto and heading toward the beach.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Elba - A Poem for a Vacation

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Instead of our usual vacation rundown, we were instead moved to capture our recent stay on Elba in the form of a poem.

View of Nisportino Elba.View of Nisportino Elba.View of Nisportino Elba.View from Punta dei Mangani towards Portoferrario, Elba.
Three views of Nisportino Elba and view from Punta dei Mangani towards Portoferrario Elba.


Maritime climate and unease in the air so starts the vacation
Saluted by giant cane grass a change in the landscape
Porto Piombino controlled chaos overstuffed cars and impatient people
Everyone eager for vacation or something else
Escape from boredom relax a new romance a tan
Stories waiting to be written

Strange creatures Toremar Moby Blunavy skim the sea
Bloated vessels sucking in and belching out people and cars
Dry sandwich and Coke on board to forget rocking and swaying
Obscured view through salt-encrusted windows
Islands pass by along with the latest headlines
Anticipating what I’ll encounter


Waiting for the ferry at Piombino.Disembarking at Rio Marina Elba.View of Rio Marina Elba from ferry window.View of Capoliveri Elba.View of Marciana Elba.
Piombino, waiting to disembark, a view of Rio Marina, Capoliveri, Marciana.

Port of call Rio Marina and like rats
People spill out blinking and adjusting to island life
First stop Conad for provisions with the slogan people over things
Ringing in my head as we lug water and food back
Already-stuffed car
Begrudgingly accepts more

Rhythm of our temporary home in Nisporto
Lazy days of early morning and late evening swimming
In-between time day camping at the campground
Staring at bright blue plastic café furniture courtesy of Nestlé Motta
Sweating without moving and listening to the nearby whack-a-mole arcade game
And its jingle that sounds like the first few notes of Flashdance

View of Marciana Elba.A cat sleeps in Marciana Elba.A plate of fish at Osteria del Noce in Marciana Elba.Capoliveri at night.Capoliveri at night and Borgo degli Artisti.
A Marciana alley, a Marciana cat, Osteria del Noce, Capoliveri at night, Borgo degli Artisti Capoliveri.

Toothless cigar-chomping man our waiter and constant companion
We occupy his space for a week
He reads the newspaper and we tap on computers
Parade passes people coming and going to the beach
Welcome to Camp Sole e Mare our god-forsaken savoir
Old men play briscola on the table next to us

Try not caring about what people think of me
On the beach with a floppy hat and swimming with shirt and sandals
Jaws drop exiting the water fully dressed
Decidedly not a bella figura and so un-tanned
White hot and sweating on the beach and in bed at night
Still feeling the undulations of the sea

View of Nisporto beach in the morning.View of Nisporto beach and boat.View of Nisporto beach at sunset.View of Nisporto beach in the morning.
Views of Nisporto beach

Art of vacation not something easily mastered
Art of sauntering on the beach too
To be seen and to see
Wish there were a nearby library retreat
There are no libraries on Elba during the summer
Reading room the beach and sea

Underwater sunlight pierces in slants
Floating on top and Mark six feet below
Warm currents and cold ones
Hug and explore the coast beyond the prying eyes of the beach dwellers
Nisporto to Nisportino and Nisporto to Bagnaia
Swaying Neptune grass and fish our company


View of Nisportino beach mid-morning.View of Nisportino beach sunset.View of Nisportino beach from the Pietre Rosse trail.View of Nisporto with its anchored boats.
Three view of Nisportino and one of Nisporto (where boats anchor).

Shape of Elba a fish swimming west
Veins winding roads never straight
Passing through fields of vermentino
Capoliveri keeping watch over the lower back fin
Hilltop town of Marciana the fisheye
Back to Nisporto the upper back fin

Pietre Rossse trail one morning one snake
Head buried under a rock hoping not to be seen
Reach isolated beach dei Mangani and swim
Dive back into the Mediterranean macchia
Jog to Nisportino and home to Nisporto
Start the workday in plastic blue chairs

Biodola beach - arriving.Biodola beach - filled up by mid morning.Spiaggia dei Mangani - isolated and deserted.Spiaggia dei Mangani - isolated and deserted.
Full and empty beaches. Full at Biodola. Empty at Spiaggia dei Mangani.

Warp and woof of life in Elba a study of angles
Where the sun is and will be
Pleasing morning or evening
Swim with the rising and setting sun
Noontide sun beats down bringing joy to others
Ebb and flow of light not water

Biodola beach on the back of the huge island fish
Last day no blue camp furniture
Gentle trip down friend's memory lane
Who for years came here with the family housekeeper
A detail swirling in mind
Like fish nibbling at our feet on the sandy ocean bottom

The Egyptian room in Napoleon's country house.The Demidoff Gallery at Villa San Martino.A fish design from Aquasalata Nisporto.Trail indications at a major hiking and mountain biking intersection above Nisporto.A dinner at rental in Nisporto.
Napoleon's country house, the Demidoff Gallery, a fish design at Aquasalata similar to the outline of Elba, indications for trails above Nisporto, a dinner at home in Nisporto.

The hills outside of Portoferraio a regal view from
Villa San Martino Napoleon’s country house
Push past plates with his likeness and scarves with three bees
Straight shot up to disappointment
Hulking palatial structure that dominates a later Russian addition
Demidoff surely meant well but where is the history book picture

Real Napoleon residence hides behind
Demure and modest structure one could imagine living in
Napoleon left his imprint and left himself after ten months
Bathroom and marble tub qui odit veritatem odit lucem
"He who hates the light hates the truth"
Did Napoleon ever swim on Elba

View from Punta dei Mangani towards Portoferrario, Elba.View looking west, over Nisporto from Monte Strega.The winding road down to Nisporto.
View from Punta Mangain toward Portoferraio, looking down on Nisporto, the long winding road to Nisporto.