Because of it´s ironmines, Elba always had a big historical importance. Ligures, Greeks, Romans and Pisans occupied the island alternately until the middle age. Two occupants however marked the island in a cultural and material way - the Medici and Napoleon.
The Medici built up the walls of Portoferraio, so that the city in 1500 p.c. was called COSMOPOLI. In this age the island also was formed by the tuscany culture.
Napoleon although he stayed only 9 months, changed the island fundamentally. He built streets and developed laws which to favor the mine industry. He designed the flag of the island which is still used today. With his two domiciles, „Ville dei Mulini" in the city and „Villa S. Martino" in the country, Napoleon belongs to the culture of Elba.
Today there are still many houses from this period with arched ceiling constructions and characteristical ornament paintings. Today the iron mines are closed and Elba’s main income is tourism.