Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Portoferraio can be a hectic place, especially in August when holidaymakers and day-
trippers pour off the ferries from Piombino on the mainland every 20 minutes or so. But
wandering the streets and steps of the historic centre, indulging in the exceptional eating
options and haggling for sardines with fishermen at the old harbour more than makes up
for the squeeze.
Sights & Activities
Old Town
From the ferry terminal, it's less than a kilometre along the foreshore to the Old Town, a
spiderweb of narrow streets and alleys that stagger uphill from the old harbour and water-
front to Portoferraio's defining twinset of forts, Forte Falcone and the salmon-pink Forte
Stella (Via della Stella; adult/reduced €2/1.50; 9am-7pm Easter-Sep) with deserted 16th-century
ramparts to wander and seagulls freewheeling overhead.
From central square Piazza Cavour head uphill along Via Garibaldi to the foot of the
monumental Scalinata Medici , a fabulous mirage of 140 wonky stone steps cascading up
through every sun-lit shade of amber to the dark, dimly lit church of 17th-century Chiesa
della Misericordia (Via della Misericordia) . Inside is Napoleon's death mask. Continue to the
top of the staircase to reach the forts and Napoleonic villa.
Museo Archeologica della Linguelle
(Calata Buccari; adult/reduced €3/2; 10am-1pm & 3.30-7.10pm Fri-Wed summer) Napoleon was
'imprisoned' at the start of his fleeting exile on Elba in 1814 in 16th-century Torre del Mar-
tello , also called Torre della Linguella. The russet-red, octagonal tower remained a prison
until 1877. The archaeological ruins in front of it at its feet were part of a luxurious Ro-
man villa between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, and form part of this modest museum
Museo Nazionale della Residenza Napoleoniche
(Piazzale Napoleone; 9am-7pm Mon & Wed-Sat, to 1pm Sun) Up on the bastions, between the
two forts, is Villa dei Mulini (also known as Palazzo dei Mulini), home to Napoleon dur-
ing his stint as emperor of this small isle. With its Empire-style furnishings, splendid lib-
rary, fig-tree-studded Italianate gardens and unbeatable sea view, the emperor certainly
didn't want for creature comforts during his brief Elban exile - contrast his Elba lifestyle
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