Fort Longone sits at the top of a cliff in the promontory overlooking the bay and town of Porto Azzurro.
By going through the streets of the town, a very pleasant walk round the town walls will get there very easily.
Unfortunately, since it is now a prison, you are not allowed inside, but from the outside the view of the eastern side of the island is breathtaking.
The Fort dates back to the XVII century, when the Port of Longone was under Spanish dominion; work was started in 1603, under the guidance of the viceroy of Naples Giovanni Alfonso Pimentel de Herrera, with the aim of streghthening the defence system already in force and hence gaining better control over the sea traffic.
For all of the XVII and XVIII centuries, the fort underwent numerous sackages on behalf of the powers at war against Spain, considered a threat from the beginning.
The French continually sackaged both the town of Longone and the fort itself, that ended up being seat of fierce battles even during the Spanish War of Succession.
In 1814, when Napoleon landed in Elba, some rooms in the fort were lent to the Emperor for him to use while he stayed there,and that he then kept as third residence after Villa dei Mulini and the Villa in San Martino.
Towards the end of the year 1800, Fort Longone finally became a defence building and aquired strategic importance:the local administrators requested and obtained permission for the buildng to be turned into a prison, something that proved to be an excellent source of work at a time when those living in Porto Longone were going through a severe economical crisis.
The prison however soon became famous for the terrible living conditions of the prisoners, giving it the name of one the worst prisons in Italy, though thankfully things greatly improved as the years went by.
The fort is still a prison today, and despite the fact that the seventeenth century Church dedicated to Saint James the Great, an excllent exampe of Baroque art, is inside the structure you are not allowed to visit the prison inside.
This is why the fort is also called the Fort of San Giacomo.