Villa dei Mulini: Napoleon's Residence on Elba

| Sat, 08/23/2014 - 03:00

The Tuscan island of Elba, Italy’s third largest island after Sardinia and Sicily, is famous in history for being the location French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was temporarily exiled to after his forced abdication in 1814. He remained on Elba for 300 days.

Villa dei Mulini was one of his two residences on the island (the other being Villa San Martino).

When Napoleon was first brought to Villa dei Mulini, it really consisted of two, one-storey small houses which were joined together. The land had formerly been home to two windmills, hence the name. Napoleon added a second storey and converted the barn into a ballroom. He liked the fresh air of this location and its commanding position above the island’s capital, Portoferraio. After his return to Paris for the Hundred Days, Napoleon gave the villa to the city of Portoferraio as a museum.

During his time at the Villa, Napoleon used the ground floor, whilst the first floor was intended to house the apartments of his wife, Marie-Louise, and son, but they never joined him on Elba.

You may find the Villa a rather melancholy place for certainly a tinge of sadness lingers there. In the 1950s, the Elban authorities restored the furniture and acquired other pieces from the Napoleonic period. The Villa has undergone a more recent restoration and visitors can see Napoleon’s grand salon, study, and dressing room with the Elban flag depicted on one wall. There is also a sword worn by the Emperor. Napoleon’s bedroom contains the original furniture and the library still has his collection of books.