Portoferraio, the most populated centre of the Island of Elba, already famous at the time of the Ligurian, Etruscan and Greeks under the name of Aethalia because of the rivers coming from the stores for the production of iron, was called during the Roman time "Fabricia".
The beach of the Gravels of Portoferraio, called "Argon" after the presumed shipwreck of which were protagonists the mythical Argonauts, etymologically those who were looking for metals, was more than once the theatre of drawings alongside by the Saracen pirates who sacked the Island of Elba and Portoferraio in particular, determining the need for its reconstruction during the 7th century.
It was the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I, who, together with his descendants, fortified since 1548 the port, making it an almost impregnable bastions against these pirates.
The small city undertook a role of international relevance under Napoleon, who became the first exile and who then, for a short time of more or less ten months, chose it as the capital of his Reign. With the Restoration, Portoferraio falls again in the hands of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany until the unification of the peninsula with the Reign of Italy.
After years of economic decadence, the redemption arrives in 1901 with the opening of the blast furnaces of the ILVA, operational until 1948, and with the development of the tourism in the fifties, stimulated by the connections with the dry land ensured by a regular service of ferry-boats.
Among the numerous historic and artistic testimonies deserving to be visited, we should remember the "palazzina" of the mills, official residence of Napoleon and his Court, the communal "Foresiana" art gallery, born after the donation coming from the intellectual Mario Foresi, the church of the "Reverenda Misericordia", the museum of the Napoleonic vestiges and Forte Stella, from which lighthouse one can admire a marvellous panorama.