Portoferraio on the Island of Elba, Italy
Friday, September 28th
"Eh, mon ile est bien petit." Napoleon thought Elba a "very small" island upon his arrival.
But as we sailed into the harbor, we found this beautiful island much larger than expected. Because Napoleon found it too confining, I just imagined it to be smaller. I suppose when one has ruled most of Europe, it does seem rather petit. Anyway, he could take it for only nine months before he headed back to try to reclaim France.
As usual, we walked up and down the hills, taking in the views of the town, bay and sea from many angles. Once you get away from the drab area where the Star Clipper and the ferries dock, the harbor becomes livelier and more attractive, especially at the old port on the promontory. Through the fortified gateway is the old town, which remains today the center of town. We walked up to the old Medici fort high above the old town where there is a lighthouse and wonderful views of the bay and the sea.
From the fort we walked a short distance to the Villa dei Mulini, Napoleon's principal residence on the island. He transformed two old windmills into a single stone house, which still houses his library. It is a modest house with a nice terraced garden overlooking the sea where he set up a telescope to look for sails. I don't know what he saw on a typical day, but today, one could see ferries, sailboats, yachts, a kayak, and Italian navy training ships, including the sailing ships Amerigo Vespucci and Palinuro. Many vessels on an absolutely spectacular sailing day. I could be quite satisfied living on Elba in retirement. Don't know why Bonaparte wasn't happy here but then, I don't have a Napoleonic complex.
The island is big enough for several days of walking but we remained in the area of the town itself. After a late lunch, we boarded the Star Clipper. As we left port, the captain swung the ship very close to the Amerigo Vespucci and we got a close-up look at the Italian sailors.
This was our last day and we hadn't had a "photo tender" yet, so Al asked Dariuz, the first officer, if we could have one today. No sooner asked than the tender was in the water and the photo bugs were snapping to their hearts content. Even without a camera, I hopped on board and was able to see the ship with all sails up, just as others might see us going by. A wonderful scene.
As usual, Friday night is the Captain's Dinner, a great feast topped off with the waiters' conga line as they bring in the Baked Alaska. Others of the ship's crew sang their version of "We Are the World" as each held a tiny flag of their native land. The captain said a few words and we ended our last evening on the ship by spending some quiet time on deck as the ship glided quietly under a nearly full moon.
Portoferraio Photo Album
Napolean on Elba