Located on a secluded road about 1 km from Elba’s Porto Azzurro, the Sanctuary della Madonna di Monserrato was built in 1606 by Spanish governor Pons y Léon. The building was a place of worship for the cult of the Black Madonna, who is venerated in Montserrat, Spain. In reference to the shrine, French writer, M. Valerj, comments ‘if roads and large buildings herald the Roman domination or the advent of the French empire, then hermitages and places of devotion are the result of Spanish domination.’
With the death of Pons y Leon, the monastery was left to friars from the convent of St. Augustine near Piombino. It was never completely abandoned, despite the historical vicissitudes that influenced the island throughout the centuries. On September 8, Porto Azzurro annually celebrates the feast of the Madonna of Monserrato. Local people nurture sincere sentiments when it comes to celebrating this commemorative event, in addition to Saint James’ Day, celebrated on July 25. Fireworks are set off above the bay, providing splendid scenery for onlookers.
AN ENCHANTING FISHING VILLAGE SHAPED BY SPANISH RULE
The charming fishing village of Porto Azzurro, nestled in the Gulf of Mola (considered the most welcoming bay on Elba Island), owes its name to a 1947 administrative decision when Porto Longone (named for the Longone Fortress prison) was changed to Porto Azzurro, a name more fitting to the bay’s turquoise tones. ...