The Tuscan island of Elba, the third largest island in Italy after Sardinia and Sicily, is famous in history for being the place where French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was temporarily exiled after his forced abdication in 1814. He remained in Elba for 300 days. Villa dei Mulini was one of his two residences on the island, the other being Villa San Martino.
Villa dei Mulini is so named because previously, on the same point where the Villa is located, there were 4 mills (in fact Mulino in italian means mill). Napoleon chose Villa dei Mulini as his main residence because of its dominant position over the city: from the terrace, not only could he enjoy a wonderful view but he could keep an eye on the harbor and observe which ships entered the port. This Villa was originally built in 1724 by Gian Gastone de’ Medici. When Napoleon arrived in 1814, the structure was modified under his direction and became the official residence of the Emperor on the island, used for receptions and parties, and public events.
Villa di San Martino was, instead, where he had his private life and his summer residence. It is perched on top of a hill and surrounded by woods, and boasts an incredible view of the countryside and the sea in the distance from the upper terrace. Despite being a small villa, Napoleon wanted to have nothing to envy in terms of comfort and refinement and was in fact very well furnished and decorated. In order to buy the villa he asked for a loan from his sister Pauline, who , to fulfill this wish, sold some of her jewels. She also animated the villa with lively Paris-style parties.
WHY THIS PLACE
One of the most beautiful islands in Italy, the island of Elba is the scene of one of the most important chapters in the history of Europe in the early 17th century: the exile of the then emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Elba is in the Tuscany region, being the third largest island in Italy in territory, and has about 30 thousand inhabitants. An environment with historical and natural scenarios that guarantee a wedding experience worthy of emperors.
• When Napoleon was first brought to Villa dei Mulini, it actually consisted of two small one-story houses that were joined together. The land had already housed two windmills, hence the name. Napoleon added a second floor and converted the barn into a ballroom. He liked the fresh air of this place and its commanding position above the island's capital, Portoferraio. After his return to Paris for a hundred days, Napoleon delivered the village to the city of Portoferraio as a museum.
• During his time at the Villa Dei Mulini, Napoleon used the ground floor, while the first floor was intended to house the apartments of his wife, Marie-Louise and son, but they never joined him in Elba.
• On the first floor of Villa San Martino, he built a library, where he spent a lot of time. But the two most important rooms in the villa are: (a) Sala egizia: which is decorated with hieroglyphs and pyramids, and on the ceiling the zodiac can be admired. An octagonal bath, which contained papyrus plants, is in the center of the room. (b) Sala del nodo d’amore: which was dedicated to his union with Maria Luisa d’Asburgo-Lorena, his wife who, however, did not follow him in the exile on the Isola d’Elba. At some point of his exile, Maria Walewska, his Polish lover arrived on the coast of Elba with the Emperor’s son, her sister and her brother.