A thousand torches light up the beach, dozens of people come down the paths, rowboats are ready to leave. Every year on July 14 on Elba Island, the Legend of the Innamorata (Innamorata means lover) is revived, the evocative re-enactment of the unhappy love of Lorenzo and Maria that takes place at the exact spot where in 1534 the Spanish-born nobleman Don Domingo Cardenas saw the spirit of the young lover.
The legend of the Innamorata has its roots in oral tradition. The two young people, Lorenzo and Maria came from families of different social backgrounds who, as was often the case in the era of strict social conventions, frowned upon their union. For this reason, the two used to meet secretly in Cala de lo Fero, today's Innamorata beach, in Capoliveri.
One evening, however, coming down the path Maria did not find Lorenzo waiting for her. He had been captured by Barbarossa's Saracen pirates, who had been preying on the island for decades to plunder the minerals that have always characterized Elba. Such was Innamorata's desperation that she tried to swim to Lorenzo by throwing herself into the water. An unfortunate choice: Mary disappeared in the waves and only her shawl remained, caught on the rocks just where the Ciarpa Rock stands today.
The historical re-enactment originated in 1534 at the behest of the fallen Spanish nobleman Don Domingo Cardenas who settled in Elba just a short distance from the places that served as the backdrop for the story of the two young lovers. On the night of July 14, Don Domingo was visited by the restless spirit of the young lover. The next morning he ordered that from that moment on, every July 14, 1,000 torches should light the beach to show Lorenzo and Maria the way to reunite.
And so it still happens today with an evocative re-enactment enriched by the contention between the districts of Capoliveri (the Fosso in green, the Fortezza in blue, the Baluardo in red and the Torre in yellow) who compete to take back the shawl. In a centuries-old ritual made up of historical figures now made immortal by tradition (such as the torchbearer, the old fisherman, the nobles and their standard-bearers) each year the challenge designates who will be the Innamorata of the following year who, according to popular belief, will find love during the year.
The event begins at 8:30 p.m. with a procession through the streets of Capoliveri, the annunciation by the town crier, and the opening of the Ciarpa Diffida games. The procession moves to the Innamorata beach lit by the thousand flashlights. The parade, and the ward competition are held here. Mary presides over the procession and the entire ceremony, which ends with her plunge off the Ciarpa rock that marks the start of the competition between the wards. After the designation of the new Mary there is dancing and partying on the beach, choreographed fireworks and the traditional night swim.