Portoferraio (“port of iron”)– the capital of the island, located on the northeast coast, on a cape separating the northern part of the bay. A city of amazing beauty and rich history. According to legend, it was here that Jason landed with the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece, and therefore the coat of arms of Portoferraio adorns the image of the Argo ship. Ligurians, Etruscans and Greeks lived in the city, and then it was a Roman colony and was called Fabrizio. Evidence of Roman dominance are the ruins of two villas from the time of the Roman Empire: one on the Grotte promontory with stunning views of the bay, and the other on the picturesque Linguella peninsula. In the 17th century, the Grand Duke of Tuscany founded here the pearl of military strategy – the fortress of Portoferraio, the location of which was ideal, because the entire canal separating the Elba from the mainland, and the surrounding areas could be observed from two forts – Falcone (Forte Falcone) and built in the form of a five-pointed star Fort Stella (Forte Stella). Thanks to the perfect harmony of architecture, landscapes and the sea, the city was originally called Cosmopoli – the cradle of civilization and culture, the standard of balance and order. Majestic fortresses still tower over the ancient city.
In 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on the island, who established headquarters in the historic center of Portoferraio and placed it in the Villa dei Mulini building. As a summer residence, Napoleon built the Villa San Martino on a rock. In 1841, the villa was bought by an admirer of the French emperor, Russian industrialist and philanthropist Anatoly Demidov, after whom the museum, opened in the residence today, is named. The museum displays furniture, weapons, letters written by the emperor and his generals, as well as paintings and frescoes depicting his military campaigns in different countries. Other attractions of Portoferraio include the historic Republic Square (Piazza della Republica), on which the main cathedral and the town hall are located, the ancient church of Misericordia, where copies of bronze casts of Napoleon’s death mask and hand are exhibited. You can also visit the Archaeological Museum, the Pinakothek and the wonderful Botanical Garden.
Porto Azzurro is a charming town located in the picturesque bay of Mola. Narrow streets, houses with elegant pink and orange facades, lush greenery of gardens, shady palm trees… The name of the city has Spanish roots, as it was once owned by the Spaniards, who built two fortresses here – Forte Focardo and Forte San Giacomo (Forte San Giacomo). Also in Port Azzuro there are ancient churches: Madonna de Monserrato (Madonna del Monserrato) and the Spanish church Cuore Immacolato di Maria, and in the vicinity of the city there is a mine in miniature, demonstrating the work of real mines.
Marina di Campo– a place of amazing beauty, located between the Monte Capanne massif and the central part of the mountains, where the plain borders on lush pine forests and golden sands of the longest coast of the Elbe. The resort gained popularity in the 1950s and today has a developed tourist infrastructure. Although Marina di Campo received the status of a municipality only in 1894, the city has an ancient history. So, the burials found at the foot of the Castiglione hill date back to the 2nd millennium BC, and the ruins on the top of the hill belong to one of the Etruscan fortresses of the 5th century. BC. Most of the fortifications and Romanesque churches of Marina di Campo are from the era of the reign of Pisa. Thus, the church of San Mamiliano was built in the 10th century, and the tower on the south side of the bay was built in the 16th century.
Capoliveri is a city built on a hilltop in the southeastern part of the island, on the site of an ancient Etruscan fortress. The name of the city is translated as “free head” – and this is not accidental, because Capoliveri at one time refused to pay taxes to Napoleon himself. An amazing city with a labyrinth of narrow streets descends to magnificent beaches, which make up half of all the beaches of Elba. The city has a Mineral Museum, which presents minerals and iron ore from all over the island.
The traditional dishes of the island are not only tasty, but quite simple and made from excellent local products that give the fertile lands of the island. Since the 14th century, chestnuts have been grown on the Elbe, the fruits of which, fresh, dried or ground, were the main element of dishes for the inhabitants of the mountains. More than 200 species of mushrooms grow in oak forests in autumn. A special product on the Elbe is honey, which is represented by numerous varieties: flower, chestnut, berry, rosemary, eucalyptus, heather. On the Elba you can taste many specialties. Of course, these are fish and seafood dishes: rice with squid “ink” and squid “alla diavola”, boiled octopus, fish soup “cacciucco”, dried fish “riese” and “sburita” “from dried fish. Also cooked here are all kinds of vegetable dishes, salads, flavored with excellent Tuscan olive oil and delicious desserts. The famous dessert for which the town of Capoliveri is famous is called “schiaccia briaca” – “drunken mixture” or “drunk cake”, generously seasoned with pine nuts, raisins and wonderful local wine “Aleatico” (Aleatico).
The wines of Elba should be mentioned separately – they are known all over the world, have been exported to different countries since the 18th century and have rich traditions – for example, since the Middle Ages, Elba wines have been supplied to the table of the Pope. Classic wines include “Elba bianco” and “Elba rosso”, stronger – white “Procanico” and red “Sangioveto”, and the famous “Aleatico” and fragrant “Moscato” – excellent dessert wines.