Travel and Culture in Tuscany
The Tuscan Archipelago, which the Island of Elba belongs to, offers to the visitors an artistic and historical heritage of great prominence.
The Tuscan islands, that have always been the protagonists of the trade and military routes of the Mediterranean civilizations, have preserved various remnants of the dominations which they had to undergo in the past.
The Island of Elba, in particular, was the scene of some important events and the territory of the island contains a meaningful and unique evidence of the passage of various civilizations.
The Greeks, the Etruscans and the Carthaginians, since the Iron Age and before the Romans, fought in order to have the dominion of the island and of its mineral resources.
In the 8th century B.C., the Etruscans exploited the iron mines of its territory, carrying it all around the Mediterranean basin and obtaining an enormous richness.
After the Etruscans, the Romans arrived on the island and inherited the growing steel and iron industry and then, also increasing the wine production and exploiting the beauties of Elba’s landscape, they fostered a thriving sea trade.
Exactly in this period, they built many beautiful patrician villas, as the one in Grotte di Capo Castello.
In the medieval period, it was Pisa that exploited the iron and granite mines of Elba and the numerous churches and monuments built on the island give evidence of this Pisan period.
In 1548, Cosimo de Medici I realized the town of Portoferraio on the island, in a perfect harmony between the earth and the sea, while the Spaniards settled in Porto Azzurro.
In 1700, Elba’s territory was disputed among Germans, English, Austrians and French, before going definitively to Napoleon Bonaparte (Treaty of Fontainbleu), who governed the island from May 1814 to February 1815. During these months, he fostered the wine trade, he realized many buildings and revived the economy of the island. With the Congress of Vienna, the island was annexed again to the Tuscan Grand Duchy and then, in 1860, it followed the same historical events of the united Italy.
From the end of the 19th century on, the island gradually developed the steel and iron industry until the second World War. In 1943, it was occupied by the Germans and the population lived a period of poverty and degradation.
In the 50’s and with the arrival of tourism, Elba was finally appreciated and became a loved destination for the tourists coming from all over Europe.