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ISOLA D'ELBA

The Island of Elba has been the theater of many great historical events: most Mediterranean civilizations have left important traces of their passing. Nature and millenary art and culture are enclosed inside 224 sq kilometers and give to this land a unique atmosphere with extraordinary scenarios: the result of the encounter of so many different peoples.

According to myth it was at Port Argon, today called Capo Bianco, that Jason rested during his adventurous search for the Golden Fleece. While Virgil in his Aeneid reveals that from the same port, 300 Elba inhabitants sailed in to help the "Pious Aeneas" in the hard battle against the Rutuli.

For the Etruscans, the Island of Elba was an inexhaustible source of richness: from the 8th century BC onwards they exploited the mines and exported iron in all the Mediterranean basin, gaining great richness.

The furnaces were built and day and night minerals were fused among dazzling flashes. In fact, Aristotle narrates that the Greek sailors named the island Aethalia (spark). On the island there are various necropolises, some remains of fusing ovens and many high villages in unique settings, dating from the Etruscan period.

From the decline of the Etruscan civilization, the Romans inherited the iron industry but also exploited the granite bodies and discovered the curative mud at the San Giovanni Thermal Baths, the beautiful natural environment and the excellent wine.
Pliny the Elder called it “The Island of the good wine”. That is how the great sea traffic started with ships carrying amphoras full of wine: many are still preserved in the Archeologic Museum of Portoferraio and Marciana and together with other surprising finds rescued from the sea, they tell the history of ancient navigation. Magnificent patrician villas, such as Linguella, Grotte and Capo Castello, were built in the most scenic gulfs, and were in those days, as still today, holiday places.

During the Middle Ages it was the Maritime Republic of Pisa that exploited the iron and granite mines of the Island of Elba: most of the columns that embellish Piazza dei Miracoli have been shaped by the skillful stonecutters of San Piero.
There are many monuments from the Pisan period: the fine Romanesque churches, the Tower of San Giovanni in Campo built on an enormous mass of granite, and above all, the powerful “Fortress” of Marciana and the Castle of Volterraio, a lookout over mountains and seas.

In 1548 came the turn of the Medici: Cosimo I built the fortified town of Portoferraio, a unique example of military town planning. It blended so perfectly with the sea and the land that the new city was called Cosmopoli, “cradle of civilization and culture, example of balance and rationality”.

Afterwards came the Spanish who settled in Porto Azzurro and built the imposing San Giacomo Fort, today a prison, as well as various chapels and the charming Sanctuary of Monserrato, set at the top of a sombre mountain.

During the 18th century, Elba was disputed by the Austrians, the Germans, the English and the French, through frantic diplomatic treaties and fierce battles. Finally it was Napoleon Bonaparte who gained full ownership and sovereignty of the island. During his ten months of government he made important changes: he built roads, reorganized the mining economy and increased the production and export of wine.

From an ancient deconsecrated church he made a charming theater that after an expert restoration that brought it back to its ancient splendour, today is the seat of important cultural exhibitions.

When he returned to France, for the decisive hundred days, Napoleon left two residences that have become National Museums visited by thousands of tourists every year...

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    Isla de Elba

    Isla de Elba

    Isla de Elba