Napoleon arrived on Elba Island in 1814 as sovereign of the island and was received with great pomp, both by the local authorities and by the population. It was an exceptional historical moment for this small island, even though Napoleon was there as an exile. The period of exile, in reality, was very short, lasted only 9 months. During his stay, he devoted himself much to improving the island, above all for the viability, and therefore he remained in the heart of the Elba and still remains there.
On the island, there are many Napoleonic places, most of which can still be visited nowadays. For the beauty of the landscape and the presence of such a strong historical memory, it is advisable not to miss out on visiting Elba Island on Napoleon's trail.
Villa dei Mulini, also called "Palazzina dei Mulini", is situated on the peninsula of Portoferraio. The Villa dei Mulini was chosen by Napoleon as his principal residence, due to its strategic position, which allowed him to control any approaching boats.
Villa dei Mulini is so popular because it was built between two mills, which however had been demolished by the time of Napoleon. The sovereign wanted to follow the works on the villa personally; in fact, he wanted a floor built over the already existing building, and he also took care of the choice of the furnishing. A part of this furniture is still visible today in the Villa. Currently, the Villa is a National Museum.
This villa is also located in Portoferraio, in the San Martino area. Napoleon has never lived in Villa San Martino, but he nevertheless spent moments of private life there. After the departure of Napoleon, the villa remained abandoned for many decades, while retaining original artifacts and furnishings from that period. Currently, it can be visited to admire the beautiful frescoed rooms.
This sanctuary is located at the foot of Mount Giove, in the area of Marciana, and is the oldest sanctuary on the Elba Island. In this place, Napoleon stayed for a very short period, both for work and for "private matters." In fact, the Masso dell’Aquila, a French telegraphic station allowed communication over great distances. Moreover, here, Napoleon welcomed his Polish lover Maria Walewska, while, of course, protecting his privacy. To get to the sanctuary, you start from the village of Marciana and walk uphill for about an hour, following a path through the woods that offers breathtaking panoramic views.
This small museum is hosted alongside the Chiesa della Misericordia. Here, among other objects pertaining to Napoleon's stay, there is a bronze cast of his head and his hand, as well as a copy of the sarcophagus, in which his remains are kept.
The Vigilanti Theater is located in Portoferraio and was built upon Napoleon's request, who gave the Elba Island a real theatre, by transforming the ancient Chiesa del Carmine. The theatre is still functioning with an extensive program of shows.
Follow Napoleon's track and don't miss out on visiting these incredible historical gems of the Elba island! I'm sure you'll be impressed!
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