Walking down the streets of Portoferraio old town, it is easy to experience the Medicean history, back to when Grand Duke Cosimo I de’Medici and his garrisons used to cross the streets of the new small town, built to become a Mediterranean fortress.
The ancient “Biscotteria Palace” is only a few minutes away from the docking bay.
The majestic palace, built by the Grand Duke to fulfill the food requirements of his legion and citizens, is situated in the heart of the old town giving a kind of feel like you can still smell bread baking.
If this imaginary scent whets your appetite, you can taste excellent and fast dishes in one of the many restaurants and bars in the nearby streets, between Garibaldi street and Piazza della Repubblica.
Continuing towards “punta della Madonnina”, the northern extremity of the old town, you reach “Forte Stella”, which represents, together with “Forte Falcone” and “Torre della Linguella”, the heart of the Medicean Fortifications built by Giovan Battista Bellucci and Giovanni Camerini. The view over the city and the bay as well as the bright red bricks of the Forte contrasting the blue of the waters, is worth the short walk.
In a two-minute walk from “Forte Stella” you will find another suggestive piece of history: the one belonging to Napoleon. “Villa dei Mulini”, built in the 1700s by Grand Duke Gian Gastone de’ Medici, was restored and chosen by Napoleon as his official residence on the island. The nineteenth-century sumptuous Empire furniture recreates the fascinating atmosphere of the Napoleonic period.
Why not to end the walk and beat the summer heat by diving into the clear waters of “Le Viste” beach which is a few steps away from the Napoleonic Villa, or with an appetizer and a delicious seafood dinner by the sea?
The star shaped and red brick fort dominates the northern cliffs of the Gulf of Portoferraio.
Villa dei Mulini
Built in 1724 by Gran Duke Gian Gastone de’ Medici, it was then re-adapted by Napoleon who explained his wishes to the architect Paolo Bargigli from Livorno, in particular about the creation of a Ball room, that was lacking in the initial construction.
The Church of Misericordia
A mess is held every year, on 5th of May, in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte.
This Medicean building, heart of the old town, which supplied in the past all the bread to the Cosmopoli inhabitants and to all Elba Island.
Its crystal-clear waters, especially when the southern wind blows, make you want to take a swim.