Cruising to Portoferraio, Italy


Portoferraio, Elba Island tourist information.

Portoferraio, Elba IslandThanks to Napoleon’s stay, as he was exiled in Elba in 1814 after his defeats in Europe and his forced abdication, Portoferraio and the entire island enjoyed an age of glory. Portoferraio is a town and comune in the province of Livorno, on the edge of the eponymous harbour of the island of Elba. Only 10 km away from the Italian mainland, with a surface area of 224 km2, Elba is the largest of the islands in the Tuscan Archipelago, and the third largest of the Italian islands. Arriving from the sea, Portoferraio seems like a bay, protected from pirates by it bastions which provide an intimate shelter from the sea. The town was originally born as a fortification whose ancient bastions are still partly well preserved and, together with the historic walls, form one of the most popular tourist attractions of Portoferraio.

Elba Island

Elba, Napoleon houseOn the sea side of port is Fort Stella, which you will see before you enter the harbor. Protecting the peninsular old city is Fort Falcone. Between them is the house where Napoleon spent much of his time during his first exile (1814-15), Villa dei Mulini (House of two mills), the main museum commemorating his 299 days on the island. Outside the city is his winter home, Villa San Martino, which also can be toured. The other major attraction in the city is the famous Torre del Martello, which guarded the harbor and now serves as an archaeological museum. On the south side of the Portoferraio Bay are the remains of a Roman villa, excavated in the last 50 years.

In the setting of a crystalline sea and sandy beaches, green gulfs and secret or sheer rock faces, the island is rich in pleasant surprises. There are shady forests, flat countryside and sun-drenched fields where agave and prickly pears reign supreme. There are also the small villages by the sea, which often still manage to preserve their ancient use as refuges for fishermen, and those perched in the mountains, which are reminiscent of pirate raids from a distant past.

Elba’s Beaches

Elba has incredible beaches that draw thousands of tourists each summer. Compared to other locations the beaches on Elba are on the small size, though many have resort facilities especially on the south shore of the island in areas such as Lacona and Marina di Campo. The largest north shore beach is at Procchio. In addition to sand and sun, diving and snorkeling are popular at some of these beaches because of the rocky shoreline.