After the battle of Leipzig, Napoleon was exiled to the Island of Elba, which became a Kingdom with him as King. He didn’t go alone - two of his closest Generals went too.
He had two homes on the Island, one in the main town of Portoferraio, and the other, a villa, in San Martino. Neither are huge and the villa is really rather modest. What I found odd was that he, the King of Elba and ex Emperor of France, had three small rooms on one side of the large entertaining room, and his two Generals had 2 on the other side. There was also one loo, that was essentially in a corridor.
Now, I know these guys were proper battle hardened men, used to living rough on military campaigns, but I found this set up all a bit odd. Do you think they all put on their best uniforms each morning, complete with medals and shoulder boards, then sat around the little breakfast table eating toast? Did they salute each other every-time they saw each other?
Did they sit on the sofa, shoulder boards bumping,, looking out the window, talking about the good old days and occasionally farting………. ‘I know you’re the emperor and all, but we’ve had a chat about your farts……. It’s a very small cottage’
‘But it is the fart of a great man. You should rejoice in having particles of my wonderful poo floating to your nostrils!’
As I said, all a bit odd. (Yes, you are -J).
Elba is a lovely Island: small, mountainous, beautiful beaches, loads of history and good food. We were staying in a small Airbnb between the main town and the lovely Porto Azzurro and close to a little beach (‘a fantastic location’…… if you like living on a main road with nothing around). We hired another little scooter to get around, which was mostly perfect, though a little slow up some of the steeper hills. It is less perfect when it pours down with rain. Then it’s just shit, and I was reminded that being on two wheels is always going to be a bit of luck away from a trip to A&E. However, we got to the villa mentioned above, stopped at one of the most spectacular beaches we have ever seen at Cavoli and saw some lovely countryside (a bit like a small Corsica).
The better beaches of Elba are properly packed and in the areas where you can hire sun beds, I think it would be difficult to move much without contact with a strangers sweaty body. It is an upside of living in a sparsely inhabited continent, ringed with beaches and a sea inhabited by sharks, jellyfish and deadly currents that often one can be all alone on a beautiful beach in Australia.
Despite the busy beaches, we decided that Elba would be the kind of place to spend a couple of weeks.
We got to and from Elba via the port town of Piombino on the Italian mainland. We had only considered it to be a stopover, a way to get to Elba so were very pleased to find it was a lovely town with a historic centre and a lovely coastline. There was also a free film and music festival in the old open air keep which we popped along to. The format was that film clips were played from a particular film whilst a small orchestra played one tune from that film. A great idea and obviously it’s all about picking the right film. The curator of this one was a little odd it seems and in the reasonably short time we were there we saw clips of the famous, soft porn, 9 ½ weeks, the best murder scenes from Once Upon a time in America and some of the sadder bits of Schindler list. The last one did it for us, especially as at the end we clapped…..were the only ones to clap…….. and got odd looks from others. We weren’t clapping millions of innocent people dying FFS, we were clapping the orchestra. But why were we the only ones…..
We picked up a car from Piombino and headed off to the small Tuscan town of Volterra to do sod all other than sit in squares, drinking wine and planning the Egypt element of our trip.