September 26, 2018 - South of siena, Museums, Historical landmarks
After one of history's most famous military leaders was defeated by the Russian winter, the island of Elba received one of its most distinguished guests. For a brief nine months the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte threw himself into public works and cultural events the likes of which the island's 12,000 inhabitants had never seen before.
In 1814 following his disastrous invasion of Russia and subsequent abdication, Napoleon was banished to the island of Elba. Though he escaped in March 1815 to return and re-claim his title of Emperor, by June of the same year, post-Waterloo, he was once again an island’s guest, this time on the remote St. Helena in the South Atlantic.
While on Elba he threw himself into public works – road-building, marsh-draining, and an overhaul of the legal/educational systems, essentially proclaiming himself Emperor of Elba. Visit his ‘comfortable’ housing in Villa dei Mulini in Portoferraio
and his summer residence, the more opulent Villa di San Martino which houses the Demidoff Gallery which contains a famed statue of Galatea by the sculpture Canova, for which Napoleon's sister Paolina supposedly posed.
There are other spots on the island associated with the displaced Emperor - the Teatro dei Vigilanti theatre created from a deconsecrated church in Portoferraio,
a hermitage for his more contemplative moments, and a curious rock called 'Napoleon's chair', from which he sat and gazed out to Corsica and dreamt of French soil.
Cut off from funds guaranteed him at his abdication and heeding rumors he was going to be transferred to a far more remote location, Napoleon escaped Elba and made his way back to the French capital. Considering how short his return to Paris was and where he ended up, you may wonder why he left Elba's shores at all.