Fort San Giacomo, also called Forte di Longone, was built in 1603 by Philip III of Spain at war with the French. The entire structure was completed in just two years. The imposing fortified complex was built to strengthen the coastal defensive system of the State of the Presidi, whose territory also encompassed part of the eastern and southern coast of the island. The original sighting and defense functions were carried out until the mid-nineteenth century, when the military structure was gradually abandoned.
Fort San Giacomo (prison house)
In the decade 1880 – 1990, due to a very acute economic crisis, the municipal administration conceived the idea of proposing to the Ministry of the Interior the transformation of the Spanish fortress dating back to the seventeenth century into a penitentiary. The then mayor Domenico D’Apollo saw in the realization of this project a strong economic impact also for municipal finances. At the end of the negotiations, mainly due to the presence of the church of San Giacomo located inside the structure, on 4 November 1890 the Fort became a penitentiary and, in short, one of the toughest in Italy. Only in the 1960s did the situation begin to change and the life of the inmates began to improve. Recently, during some renovations, an underground tunnel that connects various points of the citadel came to light.
History Longone Porto Azzurro Fort San Giacomo
Today’s Porto Azzurro, formerly called “ Longone “due to its topographic characteristics (“ longa ”), it overlooks the first time in history in the “Tabula Peutingeriana”, a famous medieval map of the world that points to the military routes of the Roman Empire. Its political afferent was, since its creation in 1603, the State dei Presidi , a Tuscan protectorate created by Philip II of Spain, who promoted the construction of a huge fortified center known as “Forte Longone” or “Forte di San Giacomo” for sighting and defense purposes (then gradually abandoned its original function to be used as a prison in the mid-nineteenth century), with the idea of exploiting its strategic position to contrast it with Portoferraio (Cosmopoli), a Medici domain. Always the scene of battles, protagonist of the ups and downs of the Franco-Spanish war, and of the conflict between the English and the Dutch, not to mention the Spanish succession. In 1759, with the death of Ferdinand VI of Spain, the square of Longone was assigned, together with the other Tuscan garrisons, to the Kingdom of Naples. With the Peace of Luneville it changed hands to the French and became the favorite residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, returning with the Restoration to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, finally changing its name to Porto Azzurro in 1947.
We can admire the dominion of Forte San Giacomo over the town and the sea below along the road that leads to the beach of Naregno ( Capoliveri)
How to reach Fort San Giacomo
The Spanish fortress is easily identifiable, it is located in the upper part of the town of Porto Azzurro.
Today it is possible to freely visit only the external part and the first part of the internal walls of Forte San Giacomo (Forte Longone), as the penitentiary is located inside.
It is possible to visit the inside of the citadel by participating in guided tours. The maximum number of participants is 30 people, who must book at the information office of the Municipality (0565-921654 / 351 7195991) www.prolocoportoazzurro.it