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Tuscan Archipelago >> ART and CULTURE
 
"From the Medici Family to Napoleon"
The traces of the Medici family is impressive in Portoferraio on Elba. Here you can track a real Medici itinerary starting at the Forte Falcone. You get to the fortress by walking up the staircase from via Napoleone. By car you drive along the road that goes to the Palazzina dei Mulini.
From the Prehistory to the Romans
From the Middle Ages to the Medici Family
From Napoleon till Today
Museums
Underwater archaeology
The square-shaped fortress dominates the bay and protected it for centuries against pirates in the same way as the Forte della Stella did on the spur on the south-east part of the city.The Forte della Stella got its name from the star-shaped plant of the walls and was the military department of Napoleon's army. The light-house, which is still working, was built in 1784 by the Gran Duke Leopoldo of Austria. The bronze bust of Cosimo I de' Medici by Cellini has been transferred to the Bargello Museum in Florence. The Linguella Tower, also called the Passante Tower from the assailand of Umberto I Savoia who were a prisoner here in 1800, is a octangonal building from the second half of the 16th century which closes the old port from the shipyard. The Church del Santissimo Sacramento is from the same century and was rebuilt after the bombings during the Second World War. The church features a bronze mould of the funeral mask of Napoleon. The Church del Padreterno, also called Santissima TrinitÓ, in Rio nell'Elba is worth a visit. The church goes back to the 18th century with three arcades on the fašade and a lateral tower that preserves an important Baroque altar. From the road to Campo you find a path that in 40 minutes walking takes you to the peak of Monte Giove. Probably, there used to be a temple dedicated to the father of all Gods here, and in 1460 Giacomo III Appiano built the Fortezza del Giogo against the incursions of the Corsarians, but the Spaniards demolished the fortress in 1553. Today only ruins remain but it is still worth a visit for the view. The Appians have left traces in Rio Marina where the octangonal tower embellishes the small port. Giacomo V Appiano built it in 1534 for the sighting of the pirates. If you visit Rio Marina, you can not forget the Chiesa di San Rocco, in the centre of the village. It is a church from the 16th century, a Latin cross with one nave which was built for the miners with the money of Ludovisio Boncompagni, Master of Piombino. Going to Porto Azzurro you have to stop at Forte San Giacomo, a star-shaped plant, on the hill that dominates the village. Don Garcia of Toledo built the fortress in the beginning of the 17th century imitating the citadel of Antwerp. The fortress is still used as a prison. At the other end of the village there is another Spanish fortress, Forte del Focardo. This fortress was also built in the 17th century to defend the port. The historical and art heritage of Porto Azzurro ends at the sanctuary of the Madonna del Monserrato which was built in 1606 by the Spanish governor Giuseppe Pons y LÚon on the slopes of Monte Castello. You get to the Sanctuary by taking the road to Rio nell'Elba. Drive for about 1 km and then turn to your left when you get to a small path which is semi-hidden. The Forte del Focardo dominates the promontory of Monte Calamita in Capoliveri. The Viceroy of Naples built it for the Spanish King in 1678 and belongs to the Navy today. You are not able to visit it. The religious architecture features the Sanctuary della Madonna delle Grazie and the Sanctuary della Madonna della neve in Capoliveri. The first one was built in the 16th century and preserves a caisson ceiling in wood and a painting of the Madonna del Silenzio, attributed to a pupil of Michelangelo. The Sanctuary della Madonna della neve was built by the inhabitants of Capoliveri in the 18th century and is now closed. It only opens the 5th of August in order to celebrate a big feast. One of the most typical villages of the whole island is Sant'Ilario in Campo, just outside the centre of Marina di Campo. The narrow streets, the end of the arcades and the flowering balconies surround the street that leads to the square with the church which was built by the Appians in 1400. The casa degli Appiani in Marciana Marina is worth a visit, the palace of the family is still preserved well. And also the Sanctuary della Madonna del Monte. It is less than one hour by foot taking the path that branch off from the Pisan Fortress. Along the Via Crucis path there are 14 small chapels. The legend tells that some shepherds found an icon of the Madonna here and built a hermitage and a small church. The building goes back to 1600. Different paths starts here offering pleasant walks along the slopes of Monte Giove. In Marciana, close to the beautiful beach of Procchio, there is the Guardiola from the 17th century where the old customs used to be located. From Monte Castello you get to the walls of a prehistoric settlement, while the period of Napoleon is remembered with the so called "chair of Napoleon", a mass with a unique shape. People say that Napoleon used to sit down to watch Corsica. Another trace from this period are the fountains of Napoleon where you bottle a water low in mineral content. On Giglio, do not miss a visit to the marvellous round Medici tower which guards the port of the Giglio Porto since 1596 and the walls of the castle. The Medici family built the bastion using the Pisan building that already existed. Seven of the ten original towers and the entrance with three doors still remain. The truncated cone-shaped plant identifies the Medici tower of Giglio Campese. It was built between 1670 and 1705 to defend the town from pirates. It has four canons on the top and two water cisterns that guaranteed the town water supply in case of drought or sight. The round Torre del Porto protects the Forte San Giorgio on Capraia since 1510, while the church and the Monastery of Sant'Antonio go back to 1661, when the minor Francisca order commissioned the building. The small church, today desecrated, is a typical example of Pisan Baroque and features some interesting gravestones which are decorated with episodes from the island's history. The Church di San Nicola in piazza Milano goes back to 1759, while the Zenobite tower is from the 16th century. It is on the south of Capraia and got its name from the monks who hid here from the imperial persecutions. The tower, which today is abandoned, was built in the beginning of the 16th century by the Genovese Banco di San Giorgio. It had a raised entrance, water reservoirs and three floors and could be considered inexpugnable. On Gorgona, the Medici family built the Torre Nuova in the 18th century on the north peak of the Scalo in order to protect the island from pirates and Saracens. It was a penal settlement until 1958, but is today abandoned.

Photos from APT Tuscan Archipelago and Mediaweb srl.

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