Napoleon lived in exile on Elba from May 4, 1814 to February 26, 1815: nine months that would leave an important mark on the island, which the emperor attempted to modernize and which still today bears traces of his presence.
It’s possible to visit the two residences where Napoleon lived: the Palazzina dei Mulini, in the heart of Portoferraio, and Villa San Martino, in the countryside. Villa San Martino is located in the town of San Martino, near Portoferraio, and was bought by Napoleon in June 1814 to be his summer residence, but was left uninhabited when he went back to France.
It was later bought by Prince Anatoly Demidov (Bonaparte’s heir by marriage), who built the majestic neoclassical Demidoff Gallery, today home to a collection of 19th century prints and period furnishings throughout the frescoed rooms. The most beautiful is the so-called “Egyptian Room,” which celebrates Napoleon’s victory in Egypt. Inside the villa, visitors can also find the statue of Galatea, the inspiration for which was Napoleon’s sister Paolina.