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Rio Elba
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5 reasons to visit Rio nell'Elba

Explore the hilltop town, one of Elba Island's oldest villages

Rio nell'Elba, a village dating to the Bronze Age, is one of Elba Island's oldest villages. Rio, as it's locally called, is known for its unique characteristics and charm. The town is perched on a hilltop in the eastern part of the island with roots strongly tied to the island's iron-mining tradition. A bit off the beaten tourist track, this village gives a real taste of what Elba is really all about. Here are 5 reasons to check it out...

Rio nell'Elba
Rio nell'Elba - Credit: Panoramio

Stepping into the main piazza is like stepping back in time - you'll be met with a feeling of peace and tranquility. While exploring the tiny side streets, all beautifully decorated with potted plants and the occasional breathtaking view, you'll find old folks gossiping under the sun, children running in the streets and the odd cat idly making his way through town. The fresh spring water flowing in the town's public fountains is waiting to be sipped on, and don't miss tasting a delicious something in the town's small bakery. For full immersion, enjoy a coffee at the local bar while watching locals go about their daily life. 

The Public Wash House (I Lavatoi)
The Wash House
The Wash House - Credit: Erbapersa

"I lavatoi" is a charming spot located just below the village where the locals used to wash their clothes. The fresh water once came from the Canali spring that flows into the building through bronze spouts dating to the 16th century. More recently, the space has been used to host weddings.


In the Parish Church of San Giacomo e Quirico in the main piazza, you'll see the painting, Mystic Marriage of Catherine of Alexandria, by Giovanni di San Giovanni Valdarno (1592-1636). Around the corner, you'll find the "Passo della Pietà," a recently restored series of stone passages and rooms that often house contemporary art exhibitions. A short drive towards Nisporto will take you to the Hermitage of Saint Catherine where the small chapel and connecting buildings were used as an artist retreat for many years; hundreds of avant-garde artists have been inspired by this magical space. Modern art installations are also organized on these grounds and in the late summer, you'll find a variety of concerts to attend. 

Eremo di S. Caterina, Rio nell’Elba
Eremo di S. Caterina, Rio nell’Elba - Credit: Valentina Caffieri

At the Saint Catherine Hermitage, you can also visit the Botanical Gardens "dei Semplici" where many endemic species of medicinal and culinary plants are preserved and cultivated, part of an important project to revive their use. Back in town, below the main piazza, you'll see a delightful public garden offering a peaceful and cool space in the summertime.

Volterraio Castle
Volterraio Castle - Credit: Massimo Mediani

Fairytale castles aren't lacking in this part of Italy. Monte Giove, located on the road towards Cavo, is a beautiful location easily accessible on foot, a spot even small children can enjoy. Alternatively, the climb up to the castle of Volterraio requires a good pair of boots and an adventurous spirit, though the views are worth the effort. The two castles were once able to communicate while scanning the coasts for pirate ships.

Post provided by Francesca Campagna - Social Media Team Elba