One of the Festival’s venues is the garden of the Palazzina dei Mulini, also known as Villa dei Mulini, which was one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s two residences in Portoferraio during his exile on the island of Elba (4 May 1814 – 26 February 1815).
The Palazzina was a residence intended above all for the public and representative life of the emperor in exile, while his private life took place in the nearby Villa di San Martino.
Built in 1724 by the Grand Duke Gian Gastone de’ Medici, the Palazzina dei Mulini initially did not present its current appearance: it was adapted according to Napoleon’s needs by the Livorno architect Paolo Bargigli. In addition to the demolition of some military buildings, which was necessary to create a delightful Italian garden, the works included the construction of a party hall, the renovation of the adjacent theater and the transformation of the former prison into a stable.
The gallery located on the ground floor connects the main rooms of the Emperor’s apartment: the first room you meet is the living room, followed by the library and the bedroom. Going over the staircase leading to the ballroom, originally intended for Maria Luisa, but then inhabited only by her sister Paolina, you pass to the study and the valets’ room.
The original furniture, which Napoleon had brought from the Piombino residence of his sister Elisa Baciocchi, has now been lost. A careful restoration project of the residences has led to redecorate them with beautiful nineteenth-century Empire-style furniture that today recreates the imperial atmosphere that can be savored in the rooms of the building.