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Italian island of Elba marks 200th anniversary of Napoleon's exile

Story highlights

  • Tuscany's Elba Island is celebrating 200th anniversary of Napoleon's exile to Elba
  • Reenactment of emperor's arrival is one of many events for the bicentennial
  • The people of Elba remember Napoleon's legacy fondly

It figures that the only person who couldn't leave the Tuscan island of Elba fast enough is the one locals seems to love the most.

Italy's third largest island celebrated the 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte's arrival on Sunday.

Hundreds of Napoleon enthusiasts traveled to Elba to reenact the diminutive emperor's arrival at the prow of a large row boat.

Dressed in period costume, they milled about the island awaiting the highlight of the day -- when "Napoleon" himself finally showed up to the salute of cannons and cheers.

Happy 200th Mister Bonaparte

Elaborate reenactments are staged annually on the island, but have been ramped up for 2014 to mark Napoleon's bicentennial on Elba.

The French emperor was exiled here following his forced abdication of the throne in 1814.

He ruled as the island's sovereign for 300 days before escaping back to France.

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The people of Elba recall his legacy fondly -- he's credited with improving the lot of the islanders and locals still say Mass for him each May 5 at the island's Chiesa della Misericordia (Church of Mercy).

Upcoming events for the bicentennial include the exhibition of a large field tent from which Napoleon directed military operations during his campaigns.

There's also the Napoleon's Regatta yacht race, which arrives in Portoferraio on June 13, and a walking festival visiting Napoleon-related sites on the island.

Roman holidays

Elba is a popular vacation island with Romans in particular and its most famous attractions are Napoleon's former cribs.

The Villa dei Mulini was his primary pad on the island while the Villa Napoleonica di San Martino was his summer residence -- apparently just the one summer though.

Both are now museums.

Portoferraio isn't short of classy hotels, but the down-budget Albergo Ape Elbana might be more of interest given that it once received Napoleon's guests.