This wonderful palindrome is attributed to Napoleon. He is supposed to have said it while in exile on Elba. It is unlikely that he did say it, his first language was not English for a start…but it is a good story.
Elba is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Tuscany. It is probably best known as Napoleon’s place of exile. He was on Elba for 300 days between 1814 and 1815. He kept himself busy while he was there organising economic and social reforms to improve the quality of life for the locals, as much to keep himself busy as a genuine desire to help.
He had 2 houses in Elba. Both are now open to the public, but were not open when we visited. Here is one from the outside.
The gates look very imperial.
Our friends stayed a little longer and managed to get inside the houses. They took these photos of the lovely interior of one.
Elba is part of an ancient tract of land that once connected Corsica to the Italian Peninsular. There are rich seams of iron ore thrust to the surface in geological changes. This iron ore attracted many interested parties. The island has been inhabited since ancient times.
It was known by travelling Greeks, the Argonauts rested there, Etruscans invaded and later the Romans, followed by the Ostrogoths and Lombards. It became a possession of the Republic of Pisa, the Visconti of Milan. Barbary pirates invaded, Cosimo I di Medici fortified Portoferaio and renamed it “Cosmopoli”. Philip II of Spain captured Porto Azzurro and had 2 fortresses built there. In 1802 the island became a French possession.
In the Congress of Vienna the island was restored to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1860 it became part of the new unified Kingdom of Italy.
…and on a warm spring day in 2017 we arrived.
The terrain is varied, with a mountainous area to the west with some dramatic coastlines.
The central part of the island is a flat corridor where the main centres can be found and there is a hilly section to the east.
Elba is a popular holiday destination these days because of the beaches. Most brochures show them from above to show the pretty little coves and bays and the gorgeous azure sea.
On closer inspection we found them somewhat lacking. Some had sand, but it was not white like our sandy beaches in Australia. I almost preferred the pebble beaches.
This is not a complaint, we don’t come to Italy to go to the beach. We loved Elba and in the next post I will show you some of the lovely places we visited.