Portoferraio Museum of Archaeology

The fortifications designed and built by Cosimo de Medici to defend the town embrace the harbour of Portoferraio with the Falcone and Stella Forts, ending at the Linguella Fort, so-called because it stands on a tongue-like strip, or "lingua" of land. It is the furthermost tip of the Harbour, overlooking the Medici port, a gem of military architecture defending its entrance. The unusually shaped tower is known as the Martello ("Hammer") Tower or the Passanante Tower, after the anarchist who attempted to assassinate Italian King Umberto I, who was incarcerated here in 1886 when the fortress was a prison; during the Fascist period, future Italian President Sandro Pertini was also imprisoned here. However, the history of this area dates much further back, since mosaics belonging to a Roman Villa from the 1C BCE were discovered only a few metres from the tower during postwar restoration and rebuilding works. The floor and the foundations of the Villa are still visible at the foot of the Martello Tower, a reminder of Portoferraio's origins.

The rooms which now house the Museum of Archaeology were used as a salt warehouse in the 16C. They were later used to store the tuna killed in the "Tonnara", or communal tuna hunt/trap, before becoming a prison.

At the entrance to the Linguella zone, in the room on the left, the Town Museum of Archaeology, comprising two rooms on two levels, offers a rich collection of objects found on Elba dating from the late 8C BCE to the 5C CE. The display cases, well described and arranged in chronological order, show exhibits ranging from the various ores through to details of the transportation of wine by sea in the amphorae found on the sea bed off the Island of Elba. The precise descriptions of the wrecks and their contents with the differently shaped amphorae extends our understanding of maritime trade in food in ancient times. You will find rare pieces such as an iron amphora found in a wreck near Montecristo, and remains from the Roman Villa at Le Grotte a few kilometres from Portoferraio.

From Hotel Acquamarina, the Museum of Archaeology can be reached on foot or in a few minutes' drive. It is about a kilometre and a half away. Take Viale Einaudi towards the port-old town centre and at the end of the road you will come to a junction. Turn left towards the Medici town of Portoferraio. Keep walking along the Medici Port to the end. Near the red Martello Tower you will find a gate, through which you will be able to see the Linguella archaeological site. The Museum, open from April to the end of October, is on your left.

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