Saturday, October 11, 2014

Searching for Napoleon on the Island of Elba

Dr. C. and I decided to take a short break to the Island of Elba.  Having read about Napoleon and his exile, I thought the combination of a beach vacation and a little history on an island in the Tuscan archipelago would be perfect.  Of course, I forgot that Napoleon was only on the island for 10 months--that's not long enough to get a tan, let alone build any monuments.
The French government sent Napoleon to Elba with 400 troops; really?  You let the conqueror of the world go to an island off the coast of Italy with 400 troops---you can guess what happened.  He spent the 10 months plotting to get off and then convinced his troops to follow him.  He really does look likes he's done with exile in the photo above, just about as excited as he was at Waterloo.

Hoping for a better outcome for our vacation we took the ferry from Piombino, about an hour over glass-like seas on the Mediterranean.  Arriving in Portoferraio, we took to the road and found Hotel Hermitage overlooking a beautiful beach and protected cove.

Since this is the off-season here on the island, the Hotel would close this weekend.  This meant great rates, no crowds, and best of all we had the beach/hotel and restaurants mostly to ourselves.

Breakfast room by the water

Infinity pool

Nightime at the Hotel
I'm sure during the summer months, this place is teeming with families, and beach lovers.  We stuck our toes into the Mediterranean, but decided it was a bit too chilly for us.  Choosing the 1/2 board option, which included breakfast and dinner, we were impressed with the 5 course dinners that were served in the main dining room.  The menu was varied enough each night, that we never felt like they were recycling anything, and the service was exceptional.

Sea Bream with seafood sauce

Gnocchi with sausage and onion

Tomato soup with shrimp

Roast veal with ratatouille


Ravioletti in brodo

Dr. C's new favorite, caccio pepe

cucumber, strawberry and watermelon salad

One our second day, we decided to go to the villa that Napoleon's sister had built for him on the island.  Although very little remains of his personal items, it was interesting to walk through the home, and see how he lived during that time.  His 2,000 book collection was stored in a hallway off another exhibit.  We tried (and I failed ) to find his other home in the port town of Portoferraio, we followed our GPS, but kept getting stuck in one-way streets and I finally gave up.  Seen one of Napoleon's homes you've probably seen them all.

He's still here!

He was a little guy, hence the little bed

The Egyptian room

bathroom was 2 floors down

this is the bivouac that was designed to commemorate Napoleon's 200th anniversary of exile on Elba

And with a view like this, I'm not sure why you would want to live anywhere else.  I'm sure he used this home to plot his escape from Elba, looking for signs that someone might be coming to free him.
Portoferraio harbor

Check out the international flags; we even saw a yacht leaving the harbor with the US flag

 After my failure at finding Napoleon's other home, we sat on a bench near the harbor and enjoyed watching the yachts coming in and going out of the harbor.  For the 3 days we were here, there were storms predicted, but we never did have any rain, and left the island, knowing that we would return someday.

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