Photo ©Alice Russolo and Nicola Santini
Porto Azzurro
A charming fisherman village shaped by Spanish rule

The charming fishing village of Porto Azzurro is in the center of the Gulf of Mola, the most welcoming bay on the east coast of the Elba Island.

Porto Longone, the historic name for this village, was linked to the name of the prison housed inside the Fortress of Longone. The name was changed in 1947 by the local administration, opting for a new, more pleasant name that reflected the landscape: Porto Azzurro.

The town, with its well-sheltered port where ferries and tourist boats dock, is a popular seaside resort and a good starting point for exploring the eastern coast of Elba.

In Porto Azzurro, you will find the mighty Fortress of San Giacomo (also known as the Fortress of Longone), built by Don Garcia de Toledo in 1603 on the top of the promontory that dominated the town, taking up the structure of the fortress of Antwerp. Today, it's a prison and can only be partially visited.

The village developed at the foot of the fortress. The beautiful Piazza Matteotti, overlooking the sea and surrounded by shops and restaurants, is the perfect meeting point at any time of day, as well as the stage for cultural and entertainment events. Walking through the small streets of the historic center, you can admire the Church of the Madonna del Carmine and the adjacent Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Mary, both from the 18th century.

Near to the village, about a kilometre away from the center, you can visit the Little Mine, a small-scale reconstruction of the mine and the activity that once took place there. Once at the site, a small train takes you on a 250-meter route in a tunnel to observe the interesting elements of life in the mines, from the various stages of mining to the great variety of minerals obtained.

Also of note is the historic Sanctuary of the Madonna del Montserrat, located on an isolated hill not far from the village, built by the Spanish governor Pons y Leon in 1606 for the cult of the Black Madonna who is venerated in Spain in the sanctuary of Montserrat.

Among the accessible beaches in the area, there's the memorable sandy beach of Barbarossa which can be reached via the Carmignana promenade, a beautiful equipped panoramic path as well as the beaches of Reale, Rossa, the gravelly Terranera, and finally Pianotta, where rocks alternate with sand. Porto Azzurro also hosts the first dog beach on the island. The seabed is perfect for lovers of scuba diving, with beautiful seascapes suitable for all levels, from beginners to professionals.

One of religious feasts that's most important to the population of Porto Azzurro is the Feast of the Madonna di Monserrat, celebrated every year on September 8.

On July 25, for the feast of the patron saint St John, Fisherman’s Day is held, featuring religious rituals, food stands in the streets and fireworks in the bay.

In the pastry shops of Porto Azzurro, as well as during the traditional town festivals, schiaccia briaca is always present. Deriving from the legacy of the Barbary pirates, the recipe was then revisited and enriched with local ingredients, such as passito Aleatico dell’ Elba DOCG.

You can also taste the other dishes and typical products of Elba and the Archipelago of the Tuscan Islands.