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ELBA >> Portoferraio
  The Beaches
The island's capital is located on a spur of a rock and is of Etruscan and Greek origin. The legend tells that Argonauts came to Portoferraio, led by Jason, in their search for golden fleece, while archaeological findings show an as early presence as both of Etruscans and Romans on the island. The ancient names Fabricia e Feraia, given by these populations, prove that it was the mines' extraordinary richness of ferrous minerals that attracted them, for their production of arms. Portoferraio's historic heart is preserved in the narrow streets behind the harbor, between Piazza Cavour and Piazza della Repubblica, in the alleys and the steps leading the way to the Medicean fortifications.
The Medicean town still reserves memories from when it was renamed Cosmopoli in the honour of Cosimo de' Medici the 1:st, who in 1548 re-constructed and fortificated the village after it had been razed to the ground by the Saracenes. It was then that Fort Falcone and Fort della Stella , the "della Linguella" Tower and the solid city-walls which made the town almost impregnable, were built on designs by the architects Camerini and Belluzzi. The following historic event of importance in Portoferraio is connected to the presence of Emperor Napoleon who built his residence and the headquarters for the Empires organization just outside the village. The impressive iron complex at Portoferraio was demolished as a consequence to the bombings during WW II and today the town is the seat for most offices and public services as well as the center for main communications. Still, the worst mistake you can make, is to consider Portoferraio a landing to leave as soon as possible and move on to discover the island. Elba's capital actually guards treasures of rare beauty and before leaving for the beaches you should at least visit it completely. An itinerary dedicated to the Medicean Portoferraio will take you to Fort Falcone and Fort Stella, the "della Linguinella" tower and the church Santissimo Sacramento, while in order to see Napoleonic beauties you should start by visiting the Palazzina dei Mulini, a splendid building that symbolized the Emperor's public life. Continue by visiting the Vigilanti theatre which was a gift from the Emperor to his sister Pauline, followed by the Misericordia church and then finish up with Villa San Martino, the Emperor's private residence. If you want to combine marine relax with the well-being of thermal baths you should get on the road for Cavo and stop at Terme di San Giovanni, a true panacea for curing rheumatic pains and for the skin, built on salt-pans already known by the ancients for curing the lower limbs of race horses,. Today, the beneficient properties in the mud, containing seaweed rich with iodine and sulphur, are still used, especially in the making of cosmetics that are sold to the public. Leaving Terme di San Giovanni, the road takes you to the ruins of Villa delle Grotte that raises on a panoramic headland and from where you can enjoy the view of Portoferraio's entire harbour. There is no doubt the botanic garden next to the camping Rosselba, in the out-skirts of the capital, is worth a visit. The garden guards several species of tropical plants and secular trees risking extinction. After having been neglected for a long time, the park was rediscovered and restored by a young botanist in 1985 commissioned by a rich Bavarian. Along the road for San Martino instead, you will find the so-called Valle delle Ceramiche (Valley of Ceramics), a 10.000 square meters green oasis that gathers about twenty monumental works of art in ceramics. It is situated inside a private estate on the will of the Elban painter Italo Bolano and houses the International Art Center where artists and public gather every summer to meet, discuss and work. There is also an educational center with workrooms for painting, pottery and tillage.

Photos from APT Tuscan Archipelago and Mediaweb srl.
Villaggio Innamorata Isola d'Elba
Prenotazione on line Traghetti Isola d'Elba
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