The routes of the granite Trekking route on the Island of Elba

Particularly interesting historical and archaeological itinerary along the Granite streets

Trekking along the Elba Granite routes: San Piero (230m) – Mill of Moncione (366 m) – Hut of Marco (270m) – Cave Antiche (250m) – Macina (200m) – La Nave (160m) – S. PIERO (230 m)

Granite columns - Ancient Grottarelle quarry - Trekking route in the granite streets
Granite columns – Ancient Grottarelle quarry

Length 9 km
Duration 3h
Total ascent 346 m
Total descent 346 m
Highest point 385 m
Lowest point 85 m
Difficulty: “ easy ”
Western side of Elba
Trekking trails: n. 195, n. 133 A, n. 133, n. 135 B, n. 135, n. 134 A, n. 134, n. 134 B, n. 134 C, n. 195

Granite in a large part of the ancient history of the island of Elba

Granite and its use in the most disparate areas run through much of the ancient history of the island of Elba. We find ashlars and drafts already used in very distant, even prehistoric, times.

One of the moments of most intense use of the Elba granite was the Roman era, when the S. Piero, Cavoli, Seccheto, Vallebuia, Pomonte deposits, they transformed into a multiple and extensive construction site.

The Granite routes on the south-eastern slopes of Monte Capanne

The trekking route through the Elba Granite routes is particularly interesting from a historical and archaeological point of view, it winds along the south-eastern slopes of the Monte Capanne massif. In this area there are several ancient granite artefacts and prehistoric sites, visible along a branched path network. The journey back in time starts from San Piero, where the last stonecutters are still engaged in granite extraction.

Path to Castancoli, trekking route in the granite streets
Path, we are in the kingdom of Granite

From the large car park of the sports field, take flat path no. on the left. 195 which coincides, in the initial stretch, with the access road to the quarries of granite still active visible further down. After the last quarry, leave the driveway to take path no. on the right. 133, which immediately presents a short detour (n. 133A), direct to Il Sasso, where there is a panoramic prehistoric site. Continue along the main route until the junction with path no. 135B which you take by turning right and heading north. In this area of ​​low Mediterranean scrub, the most common species is the sea cistus, with delicate white flowers and resinous leaves rich in essential oils.

The Sassi Ritti along the granite route

The Moncione Mill along the Trekking route along the granite routes of Elba
Mulino di Moncione, trekking route along the granite paths of Elba

As soon as you start the climb you find yourself in front of 4 menhirs which give the name to the locality called Sassi Ritti. Once you reach the flat path n. 135 we turn left until the Mulino di Moncione, the largest mill on Elba, in use until 1910. From here we go down to the path no. 134A where, with a detour to the right, it is possible to reach, in the locality Lo Spino, a box tomb built with granite slabs, according to some, dating back to 900 BC.

Retrace your steps by going down until you take path no. on the left. 133 where it is possible to observe, at the side of the route, the construction technique of a domolito, a small stone structure once used by shepherds. You go back to continue downhill on path no. 134. Along the path you notice a block of semi-finished granite.

La Capanna di Marco pastoral shelter

Marco's hut - Caprile, Elba island - Trekking route along the granite streets

The route along the granite road continues downhill, where there is a particular pastoral shelter La Capanna di Marco, the artefact is obtained from the closure with dry wall of a granite Tafone ( Tafone rock formation originating from the erosion of wind and salt). It was used as a shelter for shepherds and for the equipment necessary for the preparation of cheeses and ricottas.

The Grottarelle Ancient Granite Caves

A little further on, the path in the granite streets crosses two other deviations: path no. 134B for the “Ancient Quarries of Grottarelle”, where the various phases of granite extraction are visible, and path no. 134C for the Millstone. Once back on the main path, you descend further until you shortly cross path no. 195 which you take to the right for a final detour up to path no. 195C, where there is an imposing rough-hewn column, belonging to the Opera della Primaziale Pisana as can be seen from the inscription “OPE” present on it.

“La Nave” along the trekking route in the granite streets

The Nave Cavoli 2,000 year old granite sculpture - Trekking route in the granite streets

But our trekking in the granite streets has not finished giving us emotions, with another small detour we can see the The Ship (granite sculpture) and perhaps the most famous artefact of the entire area, mentioned in all the chronicles of travelers who have visited the Elba Island over the centuries. Finally you go back uphill, never abandoning path no. 195 until returning to San Piero.