A big reason we chose to incorporate Elba Island into our road trip is Caleb's affection for rocks and minerals. In Florence, we had recently visited a mineral museum and a mineral/gemstone exhibition at the Specola. We found that many of the minerals and stones were found on Elba Island.
Elba Island is tectonics gone wild. There are so many varieties of minerals, vast differences across its' shorelines, you can see where the plates have been pushing against each other---it boasts of an explosive, rocky history. We managed to go to the mineral museum in Rio Marina (on Elba); it was fantastic---we were just sad some of the excursions and mineral shops were still closed (we traveled during the off season; a lot was closed---to open again in May).
Beyond Caleb's growing mineral collection (um... rocks are heavy... how do you plan on bringing them back to the states again?), Anthony actually gave a tectonics PowerPoint to his class recently---in Italian! Although he did not highlight Elba Island in particular, it gave us a good notion of Elba's plated fate (hey dad: did you like the pun?)---especially while absorbing information at the mineral museum.
Here are some pictures (more pics) of what we saw during our short stint on Elba Island: from sandy beaches to rocky granite lined shores, to piles of practically glowing-red dirt: