Tower of the Linguella or the Hammer

Cosmopoli and the Linguella Tower

The tower of the Linguella (Hammer) is part of the fortifications of Cosmopoli, is located at the entrance to the tourist port of Portoferraio, the name derives from the narrow strip of land where it was built, which is called Linguella due to its conformation. At its end is the octagonal tower: designed by Giovanni Camerini and built between 1548 and 1550, it represented a reference example for military engineering until the mid-nineteenth century. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the tower was still unaltered, as shown by a French relief, while in the twentieth century the small room for the guard disappeared.

In 1877, when almost all the fortifications of the city were disarmed, the tower was used as a prison. Heavily destroyed by the bombings of the Second World War, it was restored by the Superintendence of Architectural Heritage.

Roman Villa of Linguella

In the early 1680s a palisade was built to delimit the Linguella on the Port side. In 1693, as part of a demanding completion of the defenses, overseen by governor Tornaquinci, the palisade was replaced by a wall, while the following year the platform under the Linguella tower was also widened (transformation from a recessed corner to a salient one). During the restoration of the tower, following the destruction of the Second World War, the preparation works for the defenses came to light and the remains of the maritime villa of Linguella were excavated which occupied the place in Roman times.

The Chain from the Tower of Linguella to the Molo Gallo to close the port

In 1550 Cosimo de ‘Medici had a large and heavy chain installed to close the dock, it was 135 meters long, and was made up of boards joined by iron rings. The chain was stretched from the Torre del Molo Gallo to the Tower of the Molo Gallo, on the opposite side of the dock. Thus preventing entry and exit from the dock, this with the dual purpose of making the port safer and facilitating the collection of the customs duty.

Tower of Passannante

Another name assigned to the Tower following the imprisonment spent by Giovanni Passannante.

From 1879 to 1889 Giovanni Passannante was imprisoned in this Medici tower, after the failure of the attack on Umberto (November 17, 1878) and a summary trial (March 6-7, 1879), Passannante was imprisoned in the Tower of the hammer of the Portoferraio penitentiary, later called by the sailors of the island” Torre di Passannante “. The cell where he was held was very small, located below sea level, without a latrine, just 1.50 meters high. For ten years Passannante lived in total darkness, in complete isolation. tied to a chain of eighteen kilos that allowed him to move only one meter. The humidity, saline infiltrations and scurvy caused him to lose all body hair and change the color of his skin, his limbs swelled and he began to show the first signs of psychological discomfort. In 1890, thanks to the initiatives of the journalist Anna Maria Mozzo and the deputy Agostino Bertani, he was transferred to the criminal asylum of Montelupo Fiorentino where he remained for twenty years, abandoned and forgotten by everyone, until his death, on February 14, 1910 due to bronchopneumonia. .


The future pesidencte of the republic Sandro Pertini stopped in the Medici tower of Portoferraio, as an anti-fascist political prisoner.
In 1926 he fled to France to avoid the persecution of Mussolini, but on his return he was captured and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the Court special for the defense of the state in 1929. After other prisons, he arrived in Pianosa, a prison-sanatorium, it was 11 November 1931 and Stella’s lawyer was also treated for his tuberculosis. He remained until 9 September 1935 and at the end of his detention, destined for confinement for another 10 years on the island of Ponza, he stopped for the third time in the cell located in the octagonal Medici tower. Pertini came from Pianosa two more times in 1933, because he was tried for insulting a prison guard. The first hearing took place around 21 September of that year, which was then postponed. Then he returned for the trial on November 9 and the Pretore Odorisio arranged to proceed behind closed doors, believing that the trial had aroused a “reprehensible curiosity in the public”. Many Elbans had flocked in large numbers, a sign of solidarity. The sentence was, of course, another 9 months and 24 days of detention. Sandro Pertini was 36 years old at the time and his prison file declared him “an exalted subversive, who must be carefully monitored.” In reality it was he, a political prisoner, who was mistreated, along with other cellmates, by the Cuttano guard, and had only the wrong to rebel against such abuses and retaliated against him.

(from the book “Portoferraio, 1993. Process or Sandro Pertini”, edited by Bramanti, Figoio, Marinari – Editori Riuniti Up; created by Circolo Pertini from Elba)

360° View

360 ° view from the Tower of the Linguella or the Hammer


How to reach the Torre della Linguella or del Martello

The Torre della Linguella is located at the entrance to the tourist port in Portoferraio. In the summer the area is limited to traffic, if we arrive by car, we can park outside the historic center, where there is a large parking lot.