Church of Santa Lucia Montemarsale Portoferraio

Church of Santa Lucia

The Church of Santa Lucia is located on a hillock slightly higher than 200 meters and dominates the plain of S. Giovanni and Portoferraio , where every year on the ‘Ascension, the devout Portoferraians go up.
The church dates back to ancient times and its existence was already known at the beginning of 1600. Ninci believes that it was one of the churches destroyed in 1553 by the Turks, allies of the French.

French map of 1650 depicting the island of Elba

Today’s Church of Santa Lucia dates back to the 17th century. The current building has ‘modern’ architectural features, but would have been rebuilt on an older structure. It appears for the first time in a French cartography of Elba dating back to around 1650.

The hermitage of Santa Lucia

In front of the church of Santa Lucia, there is the hermitage, this small building was frequented by some hermits, until 1776, when a decree of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold I imposed the suppression of the hermitages.

Church of Santa Lucia Montemarsale Portoferraio

The place, which today belongs to the Venerable Arciconfraternita di Misericordia di Portoferraio, was described by Sebastiano Lambardi in 1791: «… a church was built by some alms benefactors with the title of S. Lucia, in the middle of the ancient castle ( …). A small garden with fruit trees has been created around the church (…) with a beautiful covered loggia (…) and to the side of it, towards Tramontana, four small terrestrial rooms for the use and accommodation of hermits, but for some time , until the present year 1791, there has been no more hermit. “

The tradition of the Ascension, pilgrimage to the church of santa lucia.

That of Saint Lucia has always been one of the most traditional processions in Portoferraio, it was carried out not for the day of Saint Lucia, which falls on December 13, but on the day of Ascension and was preceded the evening before by bonfires prepared in every street and neighborhood. .

The pilgrimage, which today has unfortunately lost popularity even following the suppression of the holiday on the appointed day, saw the population ascend on foot to the sanctuary. Here the religious function took place, but also a party that lasted the whole day with songs, dances and snacks.

An interesting document remains of this holiday and the pilgrimage to the Church of Santa Lucia (at 13’40 “of the video) in the film Elba Boomerang, shot in -1957 by the English director Stephen Hearst.

On the hill the remains of the Montemarsale fortress

On the current Colle di Santa Lucia overlooking the Gulf of Portoferraio, stood Montemarsale. Unique medieval fortified village on the island of Elba , was surrounded by a wall built by the Republic of Pisa around 1298. The fortress had mighty walls of variable width between 1 and 1.50 meters, made with the typical medieval construction technique.

Montemarsale Montemarciale Montemarthali - Portoferraio Elba

The destruction of the village took place in June 1544 at the hands of Khayr al Din Barbarossa, as evidenced by the sectors of the walls that collapsed on the surrounding land.

In the 17th century the small Church of Santa Lucia was built, with a small hermitage that fell into disuse in 1776 following an edict of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Stree View

Aerial view from the Colle

How to reach the Church of Santa Lucia

To reach the Church of Santa Lucia, we have to travel 1 km of dirt road that from Colle Reciso leads to the square below Colle di Santa Lucia (237m above sea level). From the square we must continue following a path for about 400 m.

Colle Reciso is the hill of passage on the road that connects Portoferraio with Lacona , easily identifiable for the Cava, “Colle Reciso quarry”.