Napoleon at Isola d’Elba
After the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Napoleon was exiled to Elba, an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea 10 kilometers from the coast of Tuscany.
Elba is the third-largest island in Italy, after Sicily and Sardinia.
On May 4, 1814, he docked on the island of Elba, where the enemy had decided to exile him while recognizing his sovereignty over the island with the rank of prince and the preservation of the title of emperor.
Napoleon settled in Portoferraio and lived in the Palazzina dei Mulini (Napoleonic Mills House).
The Villa owes its name to the fact that it was built between two windmills. The building was built in 1724 by the Grand Duke Gian Gastone de’ Medici. Later, the Villa was readapted according to Napoleon’s requests by the architect Paolo Bargigli.
The Villa di San Martino was the summer residence of Napoleon. The villa is located in the countryside, about 5 km from Portoferraio. Napoleon bought the property from the Manganaro family in 1814 to transform it into a comfortable and elegant residence. He made several changes including the extension of the building, the restructuring of the prospectus, the arrangement of a roof garden overlooking the bay of Portoferraio, and the decoration of the interior.
The neoclassical architecture that welcomes the visitor is due to Count Anatolio Demidoff, husband of Napoleon’s niece Matilde di Monfort, who in 1851 bought the villa planning to build a large museum that could accommodate his collection of Napoleonic relics.
His mother joined him and later took up residence in a small house in the historic center. A few months into his exile, Napoleon learned that his ex-wife Josephine had died in France.
During the ten months of exile, Napoleon built infrastructure, mines, roads, and defenses.
Napoleon continued to secretly receive news of the French situation through some optical telegraphs located on the heights of the island.
Featured image: Napoleon on Elba, an early 19th-century painting of the French dictator in exile
Matteo Damiani is an Italian sinologist, photographer, author and motion designer. Matteo lived and worked for ten years in China. Founder of CinaOggi.it, China-underground.com, Weirditaly.com and RetroFuturista.com.