Portoferraio, Italy | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Portoferraio, Italy

Portoferraio is a town and comune in the province of

Livorno

, on the edge of the eponymous harbor of the island of

Elba

. It is the island's largest city. Because of its terrain, many of its buildings are situated on the slopes of a tiny hill surrounded on three sides by the sea.

History

It was founded by Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1548, with the name of Cosmopoli ("Cosimo's City"), to balance the presence of the Spanish citadel in Porto Azzurro. It had three forts (Forte Stella, Forte Falcone, and Forte Inglese) and a massive line of walls, all still visible today.

The city remained to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until... Read more

Portoferraio, Italy

Destination:
Portoferraio is a town and comune in the province of

Livorno

, on the edge of the eponymous harbor of the island of

Elba

. It is the island's largest city. Because of its terrain, many of its buildings are situated on the slopes of a tiny hill surrounded on three sides by the sea.

History

It was founded by Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1548, with the name of Cosmopoli ("Cosimo's City"), to balance the presence of the Spanish citadel in Porto Azzurro. It had three forts (Forte Stella, Forte Falcone, and Forte Inglese) and a massive line of walls, all still visible today.

The city remained to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the 18th century, when, due to its strategic position, it was contended by France, England, and Austria. A British garrison withstood the Siege of Porto Ferrajo in 1801, but the 1802 Treaty of Amiens transferred the town to France. In 1814 it was handed over to Napoleon Bonaparte, as the seat of his first exile. In the 19th century, the city grew quickly, due to the construction of infrastructures and the exploitation of new iron mills in Rio Marina. Portoferraio then became the main shipping port of the ore towards the mainland, whence the current name, meaning "Iron Port" in Italian. After the end of the Napoleonic Era, Portoferraio returned to Tuscany and became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Here brigand Carmine Crocco was imprisoned until his death for his revolution against the reign of Victor Emmanuel II and the anarchist Giovanni Passannante who attempted to kill king Umberto I.

During World War II, Portoferraio became the scene of battle when

Elba

was occupied by German forces. In late June 1944, an Allied force composed mainly of Free French troops liberated the island in a fight which lasted two days. Portoferraio was taken by French troops on 18 June but was damaged by the fighting and the bombing raids which preceded the invasion.

Portoferraio's economy suffered from the end of mining activities starting from the 1970s, but in the following decades, it gained a status as an internationally renowned tourist resort.

The Jewish Community

The first Jews arrived in Portoferraio at the beginning of the 17th century following the publication of the edict of 1556 in which Cosimo I de' Medici granted special privileges to all those who settled in Cosmopoli. In 1593, Ferdinando I de' Medici issued letters of patent, called La Livornina, by which more privileges were granted to foreign merchants, Jews in particular, who were willing to settle in the new free ports on Elba and in Leghorn.


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Portoferraio, Italy: Port Information


The cruise ships dock right in the middle of the town. Plenty of sights, cafes, and shops are within walking distance of the port. 
There are many taxis. However, you can easily explore the town on foot. 

Get around Portoferraio, Italy


Mass transit does exist to/from Portoferraio (short-distance and long-distance) and to/from Marina di Campo (short-distance only). Buses run a fairly comprehensive route, so you can reach the main towns and villages around the island. It is also quite cheap. Hitchhiking is possible, as there are many who take their cars by ferry when visiting the island. You can also rent cars, scooters, and boats at RENT CHIAPPI in the marina of Portoferraio.

What to see in Portoferraio, Italy


The town center is crowded around the small marina drawn in a natural cove.

Main points of interest include:

  • Forte Stella
  • Forte Falcone
  • Forte Inglese
  • Archeological museum
  • Napoleon's house

Portoferraio lighthouse

The lighthouse is placed on the northern rampart of Forte Stella built in 1548 from Cosimo I de' Medici. It was built by Leopod II Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1788; the stone tower is 25 meters high and has a double balcony and lantern. The lighthouse is fully automated, operated by Marina Militare and identified by the code number 2072 E.F.; the lantern is at 63 meters above sea level and emits a group of three white lightning strikes in a 14 seconds period visible up to 16 nautical miles. On the same tower is an additional light identified by the number 2072.2.E.F. that emits red fixed light at 60 meters above sea level.

What to do in Portoferraio, Italy


Napoleon's homes, bike, go to any one of 10 -12 beaches, drink some local wine, hike, visit as many old castles and churches as you can. 
  • Marelinosub (SCUBA diving in Capoliveri), Madonna delle Grazie, ☎ +39 333 380 57 51. The small familiar dive school, offers you some of the best dive sites in the Mediterranean Sea. Marelinosub is managed by a Swiss dive instructor, how offers different SCUBA courses.
  • Hiking trip on the island of Elba. Going hiking on Elba means following thousands of years of its inhabitants' history, from prehistoric caves to ancient stone villages, finding Etruscan furnaces and forts, visiting antique granite quarries where Romans “worked” columns. You could relive the Saracen raids, visiting battlefields, defensive forts and destroyed villages that have never been rebuilt. Walking on Elba means you’ll discover and get to know all this and more thanks to the enormous concentration of sites that this small and great island offers. What is more, the Island of Elba’s hiking routes offer a variety of itineraries for views, vegetation, and level of difficulty, ranging from paths hidden in Mediterranean vegetation, to hiking itineraries through woods and routes in the mountains. All the trips are guided and include transport to the departure points and technical assistance.

What to eat and drink in Portoferraio, Italy


Eat

Seafood is fresh, and the bread is what you were dreaming about. Get the Italian version of steak and try the bread and tomato salad.

Drink

Some local wines, and the local water tastes great.

Shopping in Portoferraio, Italy


Shopping isn't what you might expect but the island is for experiencing local ambiance, including some local wines. Local hlimoncino (lemon liqueur) is also worth tasting.

There are some shops in Portoferraio (the island's capital) but a very good place for shopping, relaxing and walking in the evenings is Marciana Marina. There are nice shops there where you can get designer sunglasses, Ralph Lauren clothes, etc. It's like a more preppy version of St. Tropez.

Safety in Portoferraio, Italy


For emergencies, call 112. This phone number works for every type of emergency, as you'll speak with an operator that will contact the appropriate authority (police, fire department, ...)
Italy is a safe country to travel in like most developed countries.
Violent crime rates in Italy are low even compared to most European countries. If you're reasonably careful and use common sense you won't encounter personal safety risks.
However, petty crime can be a problem for unwary travelers. Travelers should note that pickpockets often work in pairs or teams, occasionally in conjunction with street vendors; the usual precautions against pickpockets. Instances of rape and robbery are increasing slightly.

After leaving a restaurant or other commercial facility, it is possible, though unlikely, that you are asked to show your bill and your documents by Guardia di Finanza agents. This is perfectly legitimate (they are checking to see if the facility has printed a proper receipt and will thus pay taxes on what was sold).

For all practical matters, including reporting a crime or asking for information, you may ask any of the aforementioned kinds of police. 

As in other countries, there are gangs known for tampering with ATMs by placing "skimmers" in front of the card slot and get a clone of your card. Check carefully the machine and, if unsure, use a different one.

Language spoken in Portoferraio, Italy


Italian is the official language. English is widely understood in tourist places.

LOCAL TIME

1:46 pm
November 20, 2019
Europe/Rome

CURRENT WEATHER

14.96 °C / 58.928 °F
moderate rain
Thu

14.6 °C/58 °F
moderate rain
Fri

16.01 °C/61 °F
moderate rain
Sat

17.02 °C/63 °F
heavy intensity rain
Sun

16.42 °C/62 °F
moderate rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

EUR

1 USD = 0 EUR
1 GBP = 0 EUR
1 AUD = 0 EUR
1 CAD = 0 EUR

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So, after walking along Portoferraio , we went to the museum of Napoleon. Napoleon was exiled here in 1814... On the tiny island with the population consisting at that time of several thousand people. What is interesting - his birthplace is very close - the island of Corsica. And in...

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