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Elba

Elba (top center) from space, February 1994
Elba and the Tuscan Archipelago.


Elba (Latin "Ilva") is an island in Tuscany, Italy, 20 km from the coastal town of Grosseto. It is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, and the third largest Italian island. Elba and other islands of the Tuscan Archipelago are protected in the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago.

The island is divided into eight communes: the capital Portoferraio, Campo nell'Elba, Capoliveri, Marciana, Marciana Marina, Porto Azzurro, Rio Marina and Rio nell'Elba.

History

Following the Treaty of Fontainebleau, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to Elba when overthrown (the first time), inspiring the famous palindrome: "Able was I ere I saw Elba." Napoleon stayed on Elba for 9 months and 21 days, being given the title "Emperor." Although he was nominally sovereign of Elba, the island was watched (more or less) by British naval patrols. During these months, partly to pass the time and partly out of a genuine concern for the well-being of the people, he carried out a series of economic and social reforms to improve the quality of life on Elba. Napoleon eventually escaped Elba and returned to France on February 26 for a Hundred Days before being exiled again this time to the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, where he died. French troops landed on Elba on June 17 1944.

More recently, the island has become famed for its wine.

Free-diver Jacques Mayol committed suicide here on December 22, 2001.