The “Linguella” Archaeology Area
The military architectural order, planned and built by Cosimo I De’Medici’s best architects, makes Portoferraio an eternal panorama. The town was built around the port so as to protect its most important part, the wet dock, and to close it off all round with its fortifications that seem to embrace it. This fortress-town designed by Cosimo I has three strongholds: Forte Falcone, Forte Stella and the Linguella (so called because it resembles a narrow stretch of land).
The Linguella is without a doubt a superb example of military architecture that was used as port defence: the Martello Tower, or Passanante, is so called because of its particular shape, and after the anarchist who tried to assassinate Umberto I and was hence imprisoned there in 1886. As luck would have it, although this historical area was badly ruined by the bombings during both World Wars, it was precisely this severe damage that gave the town the chance of being reborn.
When repair and recovery works were being carried out, partial remains of foundations and floors of what was once a Roman villa dating back from mid I century BC to the end of III century AD came to light. Now, at the foot of the Tower, we can admire these remains that are proof of the Town’s ancient origins. There have, however, been several problems in carrying out a more thorough study of this archaeological site: the enormous work involved in building the fortifications severely damaged the original stratification, with early written proof dating back as far back as 1548, mostly letters from the Grand duke and the officials who watched over the progress of the work and the fortifications. Another difficulty concerning the earliest layers of the villa, has been the bradyseism and the gradual rise in the sea level of about a metre since Roman times.
THE “LINGUELLA” ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUMThe Linguella was never meant to be turned into houses, but only store rooms and warehouses.
At the beginning of the XVI century, the rooms that today are home to the Civic Archaeology Museum were first salt deposits, then tuna fish deposits, and finally tuna fish preservation rooms; during the Lorraine period they were turned into a prison. In 1981 it was founded by the Town Council, then opened to the public in 1985 on the occasion of the Mineral Etruria exhibition, and officially opened in 1988. It consists of two rooms, one on the ground floor and the other on the first floor, where you can admire the archaeological remains placed on show in a historical-topographical order – from early VII century BC to the V century AD - by the archaeologists from the Archaeology Science Department of the University of Pisa, run by the lecturer Orlanda Pancrazzi. All the remains found, both on the Island and within the Archipelago, are on show inside glass cabinets with detailed explicatory panels giving a general description, the chronology, and the historical importance. There are also other cabinets which contain articles and information concerning the Island of Elba’s economy (iron minerals), or the sea trade of wine and a detailed description of the boats and ships used. There are also many amphoras that still hold traces of what was in them, and this not only helps us understand each object better, but also gives us a better knowledge of the foodstuffs of the time.
One of the strangest and rarest objects is the iron anchor from the shipwreck in Montecristo, where the sea concretions have stuck many small, black paint little cups as well as vases from the furnishings on board.
Another interesting object is Attiano’s altar in granite, that dates back to the II century BC, found near the granite quarry in Seccheto, dedicated by him to Hercules who is thought to have been Emperor Hadrian’s praetorial prefect . There is a dedication on the front that reads: “P.ACILIUS ATTIANUS PRAEF. PR. HERCULI SANCTO D.D.”.
An engraved, relief club (thought to have belonged to Hercules) completes the dedication, while a lance and shield, also in relief, are on the back.
There are also some cabinets that contain some of the major objects from the Mellini and Foresi Civic Collections.
10:00 - 16:00
Cosmopoli Card valid 7 days
Whole € 7,00
Reduced: families, children 6-18, groups over 20 pax, students, over 70 € 5,00.
The “Linguella” Archaeology Area
Whole € 4,00
Discount families, children 6-18, groups over 20 pax, students, over 70 € 3,00
1 free every 25 pax
1 guide free
inhabitants of Portoferraio
children 0-6 years