The high, isolated village of MARCIANA, up 4km of switchbacks from Poggio, is the oldest settlement and most alluring place on Elba, perfectly located between great beaches and the mountainous interior. Its steep old quarter is a delight of narrow alleys, arches, belvederes and stone stairs festooned with flowers and climbing plants that culminate at the twelfth-century Fortezza Pisano (closed to the public, but with great views from its lofty location). The best restaurant is the award-winning Osteria del Noce, high up at Via della Madonna 19 (Tel:0565.901.284, Web: www.osteriadelnoce.it ; daily March– Sept), with excellent mid-priced food and a terrace with spectacular views. Way up beside the Fortezza at Via del Pretorio 64 is little Monilli, a bar and paninoteca open daily until 2am, perched over a wooded hillside.
The main draw of Marciana is 500m south of the village – the base-station of a cabinovia (cable car) that climbs 650m to the summit of Monte Capanne (1018m), Elba's highest point (daily: June– Sept 10am–12.15pm & 2.30–6pm; Oct– May closes 5.30pm; 12 return). Note that "cable car" is something of a misnomer: it's a series of small exposed cages, each of which is big enough for two people to stand up in, hooked onto a continually running cable: the open-air ride might give you the jitters lifting you slowly above the wooded hills and eventually above the tree line to a levelled platform with a café. From here, it's a short scramble to the summit, from where the views are suitably stupendous. Another local attraction is one of Tuscany's very few vegetarian restaurants, Vegetariano alla Cabinovia (Tel:0565.901.029; closed in winter), by a brook in the woods alongside the cabinovia base-station, which boasts an affordable menu including falafel, wholewheat pasta and organic wine.