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Portoferraio (Livorno), Palazzina dei Mulini
Portoferraio (Livorno), Palazzina dei Mulini

The development of the Livorno territory was begun in the sixteenth century by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, but the smallness of the territorial extension dependent on the city nucleus was not exceeded until the beginning of the twentieth century, when the coastal strip up to Piombino came to be included as part of the province, in this way covering the whole portion of Tuscany that was placed by Napoleon under Elisa and Felice Baciocchi, princes of Livorno and Piombino. Despite the serious damage caused by bombing during the Second World War, testimony to the city’s past is still visible in its urban fabric: the Fortezza Nuova and the Venezia quarters, eighteenth–century palazzos and the first Italian resorts as well as Neoclassical buildings and major museums.

The naturalistic and historical value of the hinterland has been protected by the institution of major parks, including the Parco Interprovinciale di Montioni, run by the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto. The history of Montioni travels in equal step with that of the exploitation of the alum mines, which were discovered in 1474 but later abandoned. Around 1809, Elisa Baiocchi, the Princess of Piombino from 1805 on, began the transformation of the area of Montioni with the construction of a small village serving the recently re–opened alum mine. The mining village comprised residences for the miners and workers, kilns for processing the alum, the residence of the princess and a spa for her personal use, today conserved only in part.

But the province of Livorno is also the splendid stretch of sea that reflects it in its waters: according to legend, when Venus emerged from the sea, seven pearls slipped off her necklace, becoming the Tuscan Archipelago. Elba, the largest of the islands, counts among the testimonies to its past those tied to the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte, who arrived there in 1814 and remained for nearly a year. The island is famous for the residences that the Emperor had renovated in Portoferraio: the Villa dei Mulini, a state residence, and the Villa di San Martino, a country residence nestled in greenery.