After the cessation of mining and a sharp decrease in farming, during the last few decades the island’s economy, and that of Capoliveri in particular, has looked to tourism as its main resource. In spite of this major change, the people of Capoliveri have not forgotten their roots, and offer magnificent displays at the major town festivals and historic pageants. The following is a brief introduction.

Mining Festival “Festa del Cavatore”

To recall the miners’ centuries of backbreaking work, the many who lost their lives in the mines, and the struggles to win better living conditions, before dawn on the Sunday before Whit a group of men in costume with a lighted torch and their rations in their baskets pass through the streets of Capoliveri’s historic centre singing the “Romanza del Cavatore” [Miner’s Song”]. On the same day, a mass is celebrated in memory of those who died in the mines, the “Medaglia del Cavatore” Medal is awarded to the former miners, and the celebrations end in the evening with the “Banchetto del Cavatore” Dinner.


Innamorata Festival “Festa dell’Innamorata”

The Festa dell’Innamorata derives from an ancient legend that tells the story of two young lovers, Lorenzo and Maria. On 14th July Capoliveri brings this legend, handed down in fishermen’s tales, back to life, from the streets of the historic centre down to the Innamorata beach.

This historic pageant takes the onlooker back to the Sixteenth Century, telling a story of deep, passionate love with a tragic ending. After many difficulties, the young nobleman Lorenzo finally won his family’s consent to his marriage to Maria, of humble origins. On the very eve of their wedding, the Saracens captured Lorenzo and dragged him onto one of their boats. Maria watched the scene from a rock and dived into the sea in the attempt to save her fiancé who, in turn, escaped from his captors and dived into the water. But the waves overwhelmed them together, and only the shawl Maria threw off before diving into the sea was left on the “ciarpa” or “shawl” rock. Every year, on 14th July. the Granducato – Innamorata Association organises the historical pageant of the Innamorata Legend and the “Ciarpa Challenge” in which the town’s four districts compete.


Grape Festival “Festa dell’uva”

The Festa dell’Uva, first held almost by chance in 1996, is a large-scale town festival, recognised by all as Elba’s finest. It is held on the first Sunday in October in the historic centre of Capoliveri, which returns to the past and brings scenes, situations and living-conditions of “bygone days” back to life for the occasion. All the people of Capoliveri, from the children to the elderly, come together to invent, produce and perform in a festival that could not be better organised or performed.

Although originally conceived to represent and re-enact the period of the grape harvest, the Festa dell’Uva now also incorporates a series of manual skills typical of life several decades go, offering a magnificent re-creation of period society. So along the alleys, squares and streets of the town’s historic centres, all decorated with flowers, the four districts (Torre, Fortezza, Fosso and Baluardo) battle for the bronze statue of Bacchus, God of Wine. Naturally, the battle is totally non-violent, and the winning district (chosen by a specially appointed expert jury) will have the honour of keeping the statue of Bacchus within its bounds until the next year’s festival.

The four districts compete by each choosing a different theme, set in the past, and attempting to reproduce its atmosphere as faithfully as possible in realistic scenes, in a historic context rich in meaning. Entering the districts of the historic centre is like taking a trip in a time-machine, a journey back in time that wipes away all recollection of the present and offers every visitor a unique experience of indescribable impressions. All the districts are decorated with vast quantities of grapes, with bunches hanging from pergolas and vines magically springing, just for the one day, from stones and walls, along steps and outside the doors of houses.

Wandering through the town one comes across old blacksmiths at work with antique tools, cobblers carefully mending sandals and shoes, fishermen repairing their nets, girls treading grapes, and people shouting out, offering all kinds of wares for sale, and playing their parts in the various scenes acted out to wonderful effect.

Along the narrow streets, attractively arranged on tables, are many different kinds of traditional Elban food: salt cod with potatoes, tripe, marinated anchovies, boiled octopus, vegetable soup, bean soup, polenta with wild boar … and then the island’s traditional cakes, especially “schiaccia briaca”, good wine and, naturally all the grapes you can eat!!

In the late afternoon, after the name of the winning district has been announced, the thousands of people who take part in this wonderful festival every year pour onto the streets of the centre, where they remain until the sun goes down.