Portoferraio is the largest city and capital of Elba. Its buildings typically grow on the slops of a tiny hill surrounded by the sea but at the top of the hill a fortress rises with very large walls and shelters that was built by the Medici family. The fortress purpose was to balance the power citadel built in Porto Azzuro but now the fortress hosts a correctional facility. The name Portoferraio is a reminder of the past when Elba was a centre of the iron mining.
With such a rich and long history here you must visit several sites in this town, Fort Falcone, Fort Stella, the "Della Linguinella" Tower, Santissimo Sacramento Church, Palazzina dei Mullini, the Misericordia Church and of course the Villa San Martino (the emperor's private residence).
Cafes are a must stop when visiting Portoferraio! Sample the famous schiaccia briaca which translates to drunk cake and the cecina cake.
The Botanical Gardens are well worth a stop, the garden guards several species of tropical plants and secular trees that are close to extinction. After having been neglected for a long time the garden was rediscovered and restored by a young botanist in 1985 commissioned by a rich Bavarian.