UNITED STATES—Eco-tourism by the sea, overseas is a new phenomenon, especially forItaly. The government has designated an archipelago of islands called Il Parco Nazionale dell’Archipelago de La Maddelena, or La Maddalena, as a National Park.
The main island, Isola Maddalena is accessible by traggetto (a ferry that transports people and cars) from Olbia in Sardinia. No reservations are necessary. Traggetti from all over Europe; including Greece; Barcelona, etc arrive on Olbia, where you can hop on another ship to La Maddalena and you’ll find yourself smack dab in the center of Maddalena, the principle city. Yes like New York, New York. So nice they had to name it twice.
This place is a sailor’s delight. Hundreds of beaches all over the islands where you can drop anchor. The park does not allow any boats within 30 meters of shore on some of the beaches (check your navigation charts) but mostly they are accessible. The Isola Maddelena has several full service docks. I doubt you’ll ever be becalmed at sea. The Sirocco blows fromAfricato warm up the air, and in late summer the Mistral comes off the French coastline.
Only three of the islands are inhabited, Maddelena, Caprera, and ____. Caprera was bought by ____ Garibaldi, the patriot and military leader who is credited with the Risorgimento of Italy, as his retirement home. Technically the unification, whereby all the various kingdoms were unseated in favor of democratic country ruled by one benevolent king, but controlled by a parliamentary style government. Garibaldi’s eldest daughter died in the 90s, and that entire island became park property.
There are marked hiking trails along the shore and up into the hillside. The geography of the area is stunning. Exposed uplifted granite worn by wind and water. I have learned that one of the minerals in granite is silica, which is more susceptible to erosion than its surrounding minerals, hence the formations. Locals proudly point out the bear, the witch, and the alligator. With equal pride they brag that the granite found in these islands is the granite used in the Statute of Liberty.
If you didn’t come on your own boat, there are plenty of boats that take people to the out islands on day trips.
The beaches, like most in the Mediterranean, are composed of some sand and crumbled rock, sometimes rounded by the wave action. Bring surf walkers so you can scramble over the rocky outcroppings and get from beach to beach. There are beach shacks everywhere. You can get a bite to eat, rent a paddle board, or zodiac,
You can rent a Vespa, motorbike, or quad (but they require that you stay on established roads) or even a zodiac in town.
The islands all seem dog friendly. There is even a designated doggie beach on Caprera. I’ve seen dogs on several beaches, no one seemed to mind. The locals adore their pets, so if you’re an ex-pat living inRome, or other coastal cities, the traggetti even have kennels for your pets for the cheap overnight boat trip, while you snooze in your cabin.
This a great break from the Grand Tour of Europe where you are overwhelmed by history, art and architecture. Ciao!
My last note: You might find Bed & Breakfasts listed for rent. In fact, they are usually not a bedroom in someone’s house, but rather an apartment for rent on a short term basis.
By Joann Deutch