Villa Romana della Linguella


At the end of the marina, where the gulf of Portoferraio starts, next to the Medici-era Martello Tower, there are the remains of a Roman villa, known as ‘della Linguella’, which host one of the most evocative stages of the Festival.


Built in the middle of the I century BC as a sea villa dedicated to otium, it remained intact longer than the Villa in Le Grotte and that of Capo Castello.

It was made bigger between the I century BC and the I century AD, and was biggest and at its maximum splendour in the II century AD, when, seemingly, Publio Aclio Attiano, Prefect of the Praetorium of Emperor Hadrian, stayed there for reasons connected with the granite quarries.

In the III century the conditions of the villa started to go downhill, as did the entire Roman Empire; once it was abandoned, it became first a refuge for poor people, then a building that provided material for new buildings, until both the hand of man and the weather destroyed it completely, to the point of being nothing more than a distant memory.

In 1548 Cosimo de’ Medici had the entire area changed so that one of his best Medicean Fortresses could be built there: the Linguella Fortress. This is when we have the first official proof of a Roman villa at the entrance to the gulf of Portoferraio.

It came to the light thanks to excavation work at the end of the 70s, but, heavily spoiled by Medicean constructions, only few remains of the original villa still exist, and they are probably to do with the thermal area only: the laconium, a circular room in “cocciopesto” (pieces of terra cotta mixed with lime) with four apses at the sides, some extension work on the thermal room with floors inplychrome mosaics, rooms with the floors in opus sectile, walls in opus reticulum and painted in purple, red and yellow, the imperial colours that tell of a wealth that lay buried for centuries.