Summer is on its way. Normally many would already have reservations at the seaside, but due to the pandemic, people were hesitant to plan. The island of Elba, thinking ahead creatively, has unveiled a bold project to offer visitors a safe and relaxing vacation.
The tourism sector in Tuscany, the second most visited region in Italy after Veneto, has suffered greatly during the COVID-19 health crisis. Minister of Health Roberto Speranza has just announced that beginning June 3, travel between regions of Italy, as well as from the EU and Switzerland is permitted. Travel from non-EU countries can begin on June 15.
Elba, the largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago, a boater’s paradise with crystal clear waters, pristine beaches and unspoiled inland nature, attracts holidaymakers from Tuscany and the world. Known for charming hotels, welcoming B&Bs, seafood cuisine and the sweet aleatico wine, the combination of natural resources and hospitality makes the island a perfect spot to relax and recreate. See Repubblica Firenze photo gallery for stunning images of the island’s beaches.
The Elba tourism association, working together with ‘Visit Elba,’ developed a pilot project called #Elbasicura (Safe Elba) offering tourists and agencies solutions to providing a safe and tranquil holiday during these health-challenged times. The organizers, leaving no part of the holiday experience out, have planned for everything from ferry passage to accommodations to dining and leisure activities.
Beginning with transport to and from the island, ferries will operate with fewer passengers in order to allow adequate social distancing in common areas. In some instances, people will be allowed to stay inside their vehicle. The airport has also resumed service, which will be expanded to include northern Europe in mid-June. Hotels plan to redesign their common spaces to ensure adequate distancing in addition to sanitizing all rooms in between guests. Also, “Saturday to Saturday only” stays have been replaced with more flexible arrivals and departures in order to even out the number of visitors on a certain day. Hotels and other accommodations have agreed to allow guests to delay paying deposits on reservations up to 15 days before their stay and will also accept cancellations without penalty up to 15 days before arrival.
Bathing establishments plan to set up new umbrellas on beaches, both free and pay for use, thus guaranteeing shady spots allowing for safe distancing with sanitizing procedures employed between guests. An information service set up by the municipalities provides real-time info on individual beaches available in hotels, tourist offices and online.
Restaurants, also working on redesigning their spaces, add more security to the travel experience. For those who wish to dine on their hotel or apartment terrace, restaurants are prepared to deliver a typical Elban meal, or it can be made for pick up at the establishment. Some restaurants are offering meals delivered to one’s chosen beach allowing for a gourmet seaside picnic. Grocery stores are also prepared to deliver products ordered online to island accommodations.
Elba boasts 200 beaches of which 80 can be easily reached by car. Another 120 can be reached via paths or boat, so visitors are assured of their spot on the sand or rocky cove. In addition, the island contains more than 400 km. (nearly 250 miles) of trails perfect for hiking or cycling. Bicycle rental shops, all which adhere to the sanitation protocol recommended by the local health office (ASL), can provide information and bikes.
For information and ideas on beaches, diving, hikes and cycling, see the Visit Elba website. (rita kungel)