The first time visitors lean over the curb on the coastal road that runs along this stretch of coast, they might get a vague feeling of uneasiness with so much dark and uncontrollable power in sight, it can turn into a well-founded fear, even if you are aware of the name of this place … you can figure it out if you decide to go further. Never was a name more unfortunate for a beach, where the high cliff rises steeply behind black rocks, and I want to underline “black”, on “The Tombs” beach.. To reassure you I should say that the reference is to some Etruscan tombs unearthed in the area and certainly not on the beach. It’s clear that at the time it was given the name tourism marketing was not yet known on the Island!
Etruscan tombs were ancient, but in geological terms the area is young, so young that if you look closely, a less experienced eye perceives an area not quite yet consolidated, like a landslide taking place. This reveals itself in all its drama during the storms from the south, in particular with the strong Scirocco wind, during which the black band at the base of the cliff is swept away mercilessly and this is all the more striking for the contrast between the black of the beach with the whiteness of the waves.
If you are a romantic soul, and as a teenager you experienced a surge of youthful passion for the title of the book which you never read, “Madame de Stael”, “Sturm und Drang”, tempest and storm, or if you like the face of nature wild and mysterious then this is the beach for you.
Even just getting there is not easy following a path through the low shrubs of the Mediterranean for about twenty minutes, during which, in Spring, the scent of rosemary and other plants are interwoven with the smell of the lentisco trees, so even before you arrive you will be immersed in the authentic nature of Elba and get a taste of just how forceful this stretch of the coast is.
Arriving at the sea you will have to decide whether to go to the right or to the left.
To the left you will be presented with a long beach with rocks of all sizes and a very dark colour, which go right up to the high cliffs formed by the same rock pebbles that make up the beach. Apart from the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed by a gigantic manifestation of an insular nature and the dark colour of the pebbles and gravel, the rest of it is not very different from other beaches that you can visit on Elba. Perhaps it should be noted that strangely a huge beach like this one hasn’t yet been colonized by hirers of deck chairs and umbrellas and some seasonal kiosks, the reason is simple: it is not popular enough.
If however, you decide to go to the right for a few hundred meters, there are a succession of large rocks and some short stretches of fine gravel in a glossy black with greenish reflections. Huge blocks of serpentine (a basaltic rock resulting from ancient underwater lava flows rich in iron and magnesium which are the backbone of this cliff as well as the origin of the beach) plummets between the cliff and the sea, outlining an alternate path to small and smaller beaches, which end abruptly in front of a massive outcrop of sedimentary rocks.
The sea bottom is the same as the beach, an expanse of large pebbles scattered around as if after a recent landslide, making a pleasing environment for the inhabitants of the sea that you can easily see swimming with a mask under the surface..
The western area of the beach is more lively and evocative, and no one will be scandalized if you want to sunbathe and swim naked. But I must also say that when I went to photograph, along with the people who just wanted to sunbathe naturally, there were also others who I wouldn’t accept a lift in a car from and I certainly would advise my daughters to shift away from this beach of the Tombs before sunset.