Le Grotte Roman Villa Archaeological Excavations

The Le Grotte Roman Villa stands on a panoramic promontory with wonderful view of Portoferraio, on the road leading from the town to Porto Azzuro/Capoliveri, about four and a half kilometres from Hotel Acquamarina. The place-name “Le Grotte” ("The Caves") derives from the villa's underground storerooms, with their vaulted roofs, thought to be caves, which 19C Elban farmers used for storage at a time when all memory of the villa's existence had been lost.

The site was classified as an archaeological ruin deserving investigation in 1901, but it was not actually studied until 1960. It dominates the gulf, and in spite of the damage caused by time, the remains still evoke the splendour of a luxurious villa built at the end of the 1C BCE by Roman noblemen. Its construction was probably ordered by Marcus Valerius Messalla, who left it to his son, Aurelio Cotta Massimo Messalla. It appears that the guests who stayed here also included the famous poet Ovid in the year 8 CE, shortly before he was exiled to the Black Sea. It is one of the most important Roman archaeological sites in the Tuscan Archipelago.

Walking around the remains, visitors will be struck by the huge size and magnificent scale of the villa (about two hectares), with its spa buildings, underground cistern and decorated floor coverings. It is a fascinating place, steeped in the history of the Island, set against a wonderful landscape and a sweeping view.

It can be visited all year round (booking required).

Watch the video of the Le Grotte Roman Villa archaeological site:

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