'Napoleon' returns to exile island for anniversary

2014-05-04 22:51
A man dressed as French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

A man dressed as French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Portoferraio - "Napoleon" returned to the Italian island of Elba on Sunday as part of a historical re-enactment to mark the 200th anniversary of the defeated French emperor's exile.

Hundreds of enthusiasts from across Europe came together for the start of bicentenary celebrations that will last for the 10 months Napoleon stayed on the Tuscan island.

Sailing on a ship like the one used by the real Napoleon, Roberto Colla, a 59-year-old-doctor in a bicorne hat, arrived to a crowd in period costume.

Colla said the key to being a good Napoleon was being "humble" and remembering that the famous Corsican "stayed with his soldiers - he was one of them".

Colla owns about 600 books about Napoleon, reflecting a historical passion shared with other re-enactors.

Men in period military uniforms, with swords and moustaches galore, roamed the island along with women in flowing robes preparing to welcome the hero of the day.

"It's atmospheric, it's come alive!" said Ann Cockerton, a history graduate from Britain who wore a dress with a large decollete that she had designed herself.

"It makes you feel like you're there, you're back there," she gushed, praising the "fabulous military regiments" who greeted the arriving Napoleon.

"We like travelling and commemorating these things because we love history and a lot of us admire the emperor," she said, admitting that it was difficult being a Napoleon fan while living in famous enemy Britain.

One of the soldiers guarding "Napoleon" was Frenchman Serge, a member of a historical association that every year re-stages the battle of Waterloo in which Napoleon was finally defeated by the British and Prussians.

"I started when I was 17 for fun. I liked the uniform but then I got into it. I became passionate about history," the 42-year-old said as he showed off his rifle.

Jean-Michel Achalle, a 33-year-old Parisian dressed as a horse guard said it was an "extremely moving" experience.

"The atmosphere and the emotions are very strong," he said.

Achalle said he is following the bicentenary closely and last month took part in a re-enactment of Napoleon's farewell to the Imperial Guard in Fontainebleau, a palace near Paris, when he departed for Italy.

Affectionate memory

The fiery Corsican was exiled to Elba after his forced abdication in 1814 following the Treaty of Fontainebleau with the Austrian Empire, Prussia and Russia.

He was installed as sovereign of the Italian island, although it was patrolled by Britain's Royal Navy.

Napoleon escaped to France in 1815 but, following his defeat at Waterloo, he was exiled again - this time to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic.

During his stay on Elba, Napoleon rested from his battles, went hunting and organised grand balls.

But he was also an active local governor of his tiny kingdom, completing large public works projects including roads, schools, a hospital and a theatre.

"Residents of the island have a very good image of Napoleon, even an affectionate one. By the time he left, the island had entered the modern era," said Gloria Peria, a historian and head of the island's archives.

"More than an exile, it was a reign," she said.

Peria said Napoleon chose Elba because it was close to the mainland but also could be easily defended since "his greatest fear was being assassinated".

"Napoleon" certainly received a triumphant welcome on Sunday, with a cannon salute and cheers from hundreds of people in the port.

There was one jarring detail, however.

As he was handed the keys to the island at a ceremony, a drone buzzed overhead.

Read more on:    italy
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Langa - 07:46 AM
    Road name: N7 Vanguard Drive Northbound
    DELAYS between Klipfontein Road and Jakkalsvlei Avenue
  • Wednesday Athlone - 07:45 AM
    Road name: Klipfontein Road Westbound
    HEAVY DELAYS between Belgravia Road and Milner Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

Keep it together Text. Email. Social. With all the different ways to...

From R2499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.