A digital innovative way to discover Elba Island

Explore, discover, and enjoy the Italian island of Elba, once place of exile to Napoleon, safely and independently. Immerse yourself in its nature and history, travelling along beaches, paths, and even lesser-known places, using a digital mapping system. Discover Elba Island easily and safely, using a digital mapping of its entire territory, from the coasts to the mountains. This is the goal of mapping system Elba Smart Exploring.


Elba Smart Exploring, the first mapping system of an entire area, created by GAT – Gestione Associata per il Turismo dell’Isola d’Elba (Associated Management for Tourism on the Island of Elba), allows visitors to select from 400 kilometres of paths and 200 beaches, itineraries full of history and charm. For example, you may find yourself walking along the same paths where Napoleon quietly planned his escape from his exile, or at the exact point on the island where the emperor first met his Polish lover, or in the reserve where he enjoyed hunting. It is also possible to reach bays that can only be accessed by foot or bicycle, exploring paths through the woods and oaks of the Mediterranean maquis, ideal for walking, hiking, and biking, where it is not difficult to spot flamingos and rare birds of prey. 

Free service

Visitors can ‘navigate’ through the network of tracks by choosing their personalized route. “Elba Smart Exploring is a free service, intending to show the different aspects of the island, experiencing it through sport, nature, sea, culture, history, and traditions,” explains Niccolò Censi, coordinator of the Elba Tourist Board. “You can select the routes and places you want to visit on the island in complete autonomy, you can create a detailed itinerary from home, knowing beforehand the distances and the level of difficulty of the routes, to be enjoyed by foot or on horseback, by bicycle or mountain bike, for which Elba is particularly suited, as well as the points of interest and the best places to admire the Elban sunset. With the app, you can select beaches and coves that can be viewed from above-using drones, admiring them in a 3D version, surrounded by largely unspoiled nature”.

Interests or moods

The website dedicated to the project contains suggestions for routes, divided between walking and biking, based on interests or moods, the best times of day. Elba Smart Exploring is also an application that can be downloaded with a click on your phone. These suggestions are constantly updated to meet the different needs and take advantage of the seasonal opportunities presented by the area.

The images were taken by Federico Debetto, Google Street View Trusted Photographer, who mapped the area with an Insta360 camera mounted on a backpack, walking step by step along the marked-out paths. Using a drone system, photos were taken from a bird’s eye view of the 200 beaches and coves, 100 of which are wild.


The project began in 2018 as the first work of digital mapping of a territorial area in a systematic way, experimenting with some new features: firstly, the opportunity to choose the route and be guided with ease using Google Maps, and then the possibility of virtually exploring the entire outdoor offer of the island, even at 360° with special goggles, with the Street View application, to plan your excursions.

The mapping was then completed with the bike routes, both for MTBs and road bikes: ranging from those for enthusiasts who want to get back into shape to those more suitable for professionals looking for more demanding challenges; from routes more suitable for cycle tourists who want to visit the island by bike to families who want to combine beach life with some active moments surrounded by the nature of the Mediterranean forests.

Existing tools

One of the strengths of the project is that it has used existing tools that are accessible to everyone, taking the outdoor tourism experience to a new level, allowing people to explore and experience the island in complete freedom and independence, and to delve deeper into the local area’s aspects that are little known or of greater interest.

The project is also in line with a strategy, initiated by Gat and Visit Elba, “Elba Active”, which aims to integrate different activities with healthy food, and uncontaminated nature to restore psychophysical wellbeing.

Written by: editors Smart City Hub

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