Secret Elba: protect the island from terrible pirates

secret Elba Island: piratesFrom 8th Century to 16th Century, Elba Island faced one of the most terrible threat of its story: the raids of Islamic, Norman, Greek, English and Dutch pirates. In order to protect the island from these raids, Elba people built towers, walls, fortresses and other fortifications.



Marina di Campo and Marciana marina are two of the most important Elba Island landing places. Two almost identical towers were built on the respective beaches: Torre della Marina (11th Century) and Torre Pisana (5th Century).

Near Marina di Campo, in the small town of San Pietro, there is Torre di San Giovanni, octagonal-shaped tower, built in 11th Century on a granite rock. Torre Medicea, in Rio Marina, is an hexagonal-shaped tower built in 1534 by Appiani family.



On the hills around Rio Marina there are the ruins of two fortresses, both destroyed by pirate Dragut in 1552: fortezza di Luceri, even known as fortezza di Santa Lucia, built in order to protect the gulf of Portoferraio; the ruins of castello del Giogo, on Monte Giove.

Near Portoferraio there are the ruins of the “place of vultures”. It’s Volterraio castle: it rises on a peak and was built on a preexisting Etruscan village. Volterraio was fortified by Romans, Pisans and Spaniards. From its ramparts it’s possible to enjoy a view of the island.


Fortified churches

They were the last, desperate Elba Island bastion against pirates rides: San Niccolò in San Piero in Campo, San Nicola in Poggio, the Church of Santi Martiri Giacomo e Quirico in Rio nell’Elba.


But, in spite of these fortifications, pirates Barbarossa (Red Beard) and Dragut destroyed fortresses, towers and villages.


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