Are you able for Elba?

Able was I ere I saw Elba.  This is a palindrome – (a what?)

Definition –  a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward, e.g., madam or nurses run.

Ah so now we know …….  and this palindrome is attributed to Napoleon but he probably didn’t actually say it – I found this interesting article by historian Shannon Selin –  Her website

“Although attributed to him, Napoleon Bonaparte did not say, “Able was I ere I saw Elba.” This well-known palindrome – a word or phrase that reads the same backward and forward – first appeared in 1848, 27 years after Napoleon’s death. Someone named “J.T.R.” came up with the Elba line, along with “Snug & raw was I ere I saw war & guns.” (1)”

Napoleon had chosen Elba as his place of exile and in my opinion it was a pretty good choice.  This delightful island is not really on the radar for a lot of us travelling to Europe and the island has strict rules about development which has kept the authentic feel for the area.  It really is beautiful.

Elba-Island I always imagined that a place of exile would be somewhere miserable and hard to escape but it seems that Napoleon had a lucky break here although clearly he was restless to get back to France and back into action.    And he had to have developed a pretty thick skin because he was made fun of in Europe by all and sundry.



Actually his lucky break was not to last as he ended up on St Helena – which is another story.

But back to Elba – this really was a surprise to me – in fact their tourism tag is

Elba – an unexpected paradise.

All true!  Beautiful beaches, great hiking trails and lots of cycling groups.  Even golf!  Wine estates offering tours and tastings and the little fishing village of Porto Azzurro offers lovely harbour-front cafes and restaurants.

Still, Napoleon only stayed 300 days on Elba.  Only … wow – I could totally do 300 days on Elba!


By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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