Napoleon Bonaparte, the legendary emperor of France, spent a lot of time in Italy. In the years 1814-1815, Napoleon went into exile from France to a quiet and isolated Tuscan island – the island of Elba. Although he only stayed there for nine months, the mark he left on the place is still evident today. During his short stay on the island, Napoleon contributed a lot to it. In order to make the abandoned place modern and innovative, he initiated the construction of an extensive road network as well as new laws designed to promote the regional industry. His residence at the time – which is now called the Windmill Palace, is a popular point of interest among travelers in the region and marks an important period in the political history of Europe.
After experiencing humiliation in his native land, Napoleon aspired to start a new page in his life and create a new identity for himself in exile. With the help of an esteemed architect, Paolo Bargigli, he built himself a magnificent abode out of two windmills. No trace of the windmills remains, but the name remains.
The Palace of the Windmills is located in Portoferraio, between two fortresses – Forte Falcone and Forte Stella. The location is quite strategic and gives the palace a panoramic view of the entire area. Napoleon’s private room and the garden of the place face directly the sea, the coastline of Tuscany, with his back to the French island of Corsica – from where he was exiled.
The place became a national historical museum, along with Napoleon’s summer home in Italy – Villa San Martino (both houses together are called the National Museum of Napoleonic Residences).
In Napoleon’s house in Elba, which is now open to the general public, you can see the original furniture that was in Napoleon’s time of residence, impressive works of art that hung on the walls of the house, and the huge library that has been preserved – with thousands of French books donated by the emperor to the place. Among the books, you can find many works of legendary writers and poets such as Moliere, Le Fontaine, and more.
The palace is open to visitors every day except Tuesdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (until 1:00 p.m. in winter and on Sundays).
The cost of an entrance ticket to the place is 7 euros.
There is an option to buy a combined ticket that includes entry to Napoleon’s second home in Villa San Martin. Such a ticket grants free entry for 3 days and costs 13 euros.