The Ship (granite sculpture)

The Ship (granite sculpture) is perhaps the most famous artifact in the entire area, mentioned in all the chronicles of travelers who have visited the Isola Elba over the centuries.

From Zibaldone of memoirs by Giovanvincenzo Coresi del Bruno (1739):
…. “ et in a valley five miles from the land of San Piero , there is still a sketch of a ship in an ancient figure of the same stone 6 braccia long .

Da Voyage à l’Isle d’Elbe di Arsènne Thiébaut de Berneaud (1808):

Higher up I found a large vase that the Elban people call La Nave: it is the basin of half a fountain. The work is only sketchy; meanwhile the eye already discovers all the design that seemed to me light, however correct .”

Da A tour through Island of Elba di Richard Colt Hoare (1814):

I also observed a large block of granite worked so as to obtain a basin like the ones the ancients used for their fountains, the internal excavation was already begun, as well as the shapes of the two handles. ….. The diameter of the tank called The Ship is about 6 feet 9 inches.”

Not finished but already able to tell the refinement of the execution, it is called La Nave for the shape that could recall that of a boat. Basin according to some (G. Monaco 1965) or classical age altar according to others (M.zecchini, 1982), the artifact is still located in the quarry square where it was extracted and shaped. According to another hypothesis (HWWilliams, 1982) it would be a baptismal font of the Pisan age: the double relief representing two bucranos with stylized horns – together with the internal concavity not completed – could confirm this hypothesis (S. Ferruzzi, 2007), as medieval iconography often provided that the baptismal immersion tanks were symbolically supported by 12 shoots (equal in number to the tribes of Israel); this iconographic symbolism was subsequently taken up by the sect of Mormons, whose baptismal fonts were entirely supported on the backs of 12 bulls arranged radially with respect to the overlying basin.

From the same area comes the granite used by Gianbologna for the construction of the fountain “ Oceano “and exhibited in the Boboli Gardens.

How to reach The Nave

The ship is still located in the place of extraction, in the locality of Bollecaldaie (above Cabbages )

Position from the ancient granite sculpture of the Ship