|Medicean fortress, Portoferraio|
The Etruscans and Romans called this port on the island of Elba Fabrica since they used it for their mining activities.
The true birth of Portoferraio is linked to Cosimo I de’ Medici who had his military architect, Bernardo Buontalenti, construct the massive fortifications around the port in 1548 to protect the island from Saracen pirate invasions.
|Elba's flag was invented by Napoleon|
|map of Elba|
In honor of the Tuscan ruler, the town was named Cosmopolis but this name never stuck.
It soon resumed the name Portoferraio, (port of minerals) and Admiral Nelson called it the safest port in the world, choosing it for Napoleon Bonaparte’s “house arrest” in 1814.
Bonaparte was free to move around the island yet he was closely watched by a Scottish officer. One weekend, when his guard was in Livorno visiting his mistress, the former French emperor escaped to France with several ships and several hundred followers to begin another chapter in his legendary life-The 100 Days.
|death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte|
During his short stay on Elba, the official residence was the Palazzina Napoleonica (dei Mulini) overlooking the town and port. The nearby Museo della Misericordia still holds mementos of Napoleon including a death mask in bronze done by Dr. Antonmarchi who was with Bonaparte on St. Helena.
|Empire style dress 1814|
|view of the port from Villa San Martino|
Every year on May 5th a requiem mass in memory of the former emperor is held at the Church of the Misericordia and costumed interpreters reenact the arrival of Bonaparte and his companions in Portoferraio in 1814.
The former emperor was visited on Elba by his younger sister, Paolina, who caused quite a stir for her beauty and vivacious personality.
|fountain and statue Villa San Martino|
|Napoleon's Tuscan hideaway on Elba|
|Egyptian motifs decorate the living area|
|marble bath on the lower floor|
|dining room in Empire style|
|bedroom Villa San Martino|
The visit to Villa San Martino, is a surprise for the size of the parking lot and number of souvenir stalls contrasts with the modest size of the home/museum.
|entrance to Demidoff museum hall|
Just below the modest villa is a massive museum hall, constructed by Bonaparte descendent, Prince Demidoff. It is impressive for its size and contents, but disappointing for its poorly kept condition.
|statue of Paolina Bonaparte (later Princess Borghese)|