The best view of the city can be seen in its highest point. Look at the "capital" of the island from above, from its ancient walls and towers that rise over the bay. It is a country of ancient history and important culture that also offers a cozy Mediterranean atmosphere, for which it's known around the world.
Built by the mighty Medici family to balance the Spanish presence in the region, Portoferraio actually has a much longer history than that, mostly due to the iron mines which also granted it its name (Port Iron in Italian). Today, the sleepy fortress town sits quietly in its natural cove on Elba Island, just off Italy’s Tuscan coast in the northwest. The bloody battles and invading armies have given way to hoards of tourists who come here for the lovely weather, the landscape and the wonderful sailing conditions.
When the ferrous deposits were depleted in the late 70s, the local economy began to decay but it quickly became a famous touristic resort with potential and with the added bonus of being linked with Napoleon Bonaparte’s name since this is where he died in exile. It’s regarded as the capital of Elba since it’s has the most offices and public services of the island.
Travel & Arrival
The port town itself is located in the north side of the island of Elba which sits just 20km from the Italian peninsula. Most of the travelling tourists arrive here via the ferry service from Piombino, the closest city from the mainland. The trip takes 30 minutes or the passenger ferries and 90 minutes for the ones that carry vehicles.
Avant & Apres Sail
Though bombed during World War II, the town has managed to retain most of its historical landmarks which include two of the fortresses that Cosimo de Medici built, Forte Stella and Forte Falcone from where the visitor can get a lovely view of the whole bay and even of the Tuscany coast , the “della Linguinella” tower and the Santissimo Sacramento church.
Special attention is always given to the Napoleon memorabilia, which include his private home, the Villa San Martino, and the Palazzina dei Mulini which is a symbol of his public life, the Vigilanti Theather which was a gift from the Emperor to his sister Pauline and the Misericordia church, all of which can be visited by groups.
Dowtown, along the narrow streets the tourist can go shopping for a wide assortment of merchandise, starting from clothes, jewelry and specialty products to perfumes and fine china. An interesting product is the local mud which is rich in iodine and sulfur which is why is used in the cosmetics industry. You’ll find special shops that commercialize this to the public.
When it comes to the local eateries, there’s one thing they all have in common outside of the Tuscan cuisine, and that’s the friendly, intimate atmosphere. In Portoferraio you’ll never feel like a tourist, you’ll feel like you’re part of a big family, along with other gourmets. Taverns and bars along the seafront which are also unpretentious serve snacks and seafood as well as drinks.
At night, these very bars and taverns are the main attractions as there isn’t much of a nightlife in Portoferraio in the terms that tourists would expect. But for some, the peace and quiet is exactly what they’re looking for. A drink out with friends and some good music is enough of an eventful night.
Events & Actions
As in most Italian cities, you can see in Portoferraio a lot of religious festivals, especially around Easter time. Another good period to visit would have to be in July, when the island of Elba celebrates with numerous festivities Napoleon’s legacy. For with an appetite for history this a wonderful occasion to see exhibitions and shows that give a peek into the past.
For activities, you can always count on the lovely weather to be on your side, whether you’re sitting on the beach, sailing, or trekking across the volcanic interior of the island. visitors can always expect sunny skies and warm days when visiting in summer.