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It was founded in 1548 by Cosimo I de Medici, then called "Cosmopoli" in honor of himself. It was, for centuries, considered a formidable fortress city with massive city walls and numerous forts, some of which have ruins that can still be seen today.
Today, Portoferraio is known as the center of the Island of Elba, for its beauty, history, ocean views, beaches, hillside location, and Jewish community and heritage.
People Born in Portoferraio
Portoferraio in People's Lives
Napoleon Bonaparte: After being overthrown, I was exiled here in 1814. I was given sovreignty over the tiny Island of Elba, and allowed to officially keep my title of Emperor, though this was entirely to pacify me, and in name only. In truth, I had spent decades conquering and winning one of the largest empires in history, and now it had all been stripped from me. Traumatized, I attempted suicide by taking a pill that I had been carrying since fleeing Moscow, which I had planned to swallow if captured. I swallowed it now, but its potency had been weakened with age, and I survived the poisoning. I then set about creating a miniature empire out of this island, setting up a small navy and army force for it, developing iron mines, and modernizing its agricultural economy. However, I was enraged to learn that my wife and son had been exiled to enemy Austria, and that I would not be recieving the allowance that had been promised me. When I heard rumors that I would be exiled to an even more remote, unheard of island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, I decided that I must take matters into my own hands. I escaped from this city on a ship in 1815, and headed back to France with plans to re-take my empire. I sailed with a group of 600 men from Elba, that I myself had trained as soldiers.