At first sight at mysterious and picturesque rocks of La Maddalena Archipelago, which make a striking contrast with crystal-clear azure sea a tale of biblical Eden automatically comes to mind. This chain of islands of different size is located near north-eastern coast of Sardinia and attracts attention of travelers who seek solitude and try to reach harmony with nature.
As for despite the close proximity of civilization the archipelago still makes a part of untouched nature, almost not affected with human activity.
Out of more than 60 islands of Maddalena only La Maddalena, Razzoli, Santa Maria, Caprera, Budelli, Spargi and Santo Stefano are large and peopled. The archipelago is located in Strait of Bonifacio, which divides Corsica from Sardinia.
In our days the islands have a peaceful outlook and rest on their golden yellow beaches will help you to find inner peace. But it has not always been like this: there are many turbulent pages in Maddalena’s history. The archipelago had been regarded for a long time as part of Corsica’s territory, but at the time of revolutionary revolts on the island warlike Lord of Sardinia Charles Emmanuel III took ownership over these lands. At the end of XVIII century here took place a famous sea battle between the French fleet, where Napoleon Buonaparte himself served at that time and inhabitants of La Maddalena, who were but simple fishers and peasants. The last loved their motherland so much, that even well-equipped and trained enemies failed to defeat the citizens’ resistance and land on the island.
Caprera island is famous with the fact that Giuseppe Garibladi, leader of Italian revolution, has found his final resting place here. Here he was also buried in 1882.
The major part of archipelago’s area is occupied with a national park, founded in 1996. Rocky islands of La Maddalena, made of granite rocks and slates, have turned to be an ideal place for unique species of flora and fauna. Out of overall 700 plant species more than 50 are endemic. Here you can admire fantastic wild orchids, myrtles, mastic and arbuti trees, which donate you refreshment even on the hottest days, or watch a flight of Audouin’s sgull or that of a long-nosed cormorant. Not to mention pink flamingos pacing gracefully on the edge of tide on the sunset!
The biggest island set of the archipelago is La Maddalena. Its shorelines are particular with their fanciful shapes due to high concentration of granite and porphyry in its soil. Although it creates certain obstacles for navigation, it is just numerous picturesque bays and gulfs create a charm of La Maddalena. Any point on the shore offers a stunning view of sea. The island is encircled with 20km long road Spalmatore, which will surely attract attention of the excursion funs. Making stops in the different areas of the island you can admire views of Corsica, Sardinia and other islands of archipelago.
If you get a bit bored with sea views, it’s worth going deeper inside the island’s territory, which is mostly covered with low sloping hills. The highest of them is Guarda Vecchia, its height is 146 m. A cozy town La Maddalena, which seems to walk off the ancient picture, is regarded as center of archipelago. Its narrow streets with houses of XVIII century remind of times passed long ago, and ancient buildings (for instance, church Santa Maria Maddalena) impress with the refinery of its architectural design. On the west of island is situated resort hospitable resort Cala Gavetta, which is very popular among the tourists. Its main place of interest is a granite column erected in the beginning of ХХ century, depicting Garibaldi himself who sternly overlooks the visitors.
There is unique reserve zone on Caprera, where only the most persistent travelers and adrenaline addicts. Its shoreline is rugged to large extent and there are almost no even areas, and the eastern part of the island is believed to be the most difficult of access due to its extremely steep shore. Beautiful pink mountain range divides this area from other part of Caprera. Here the island’s guests will see true jungles of juniper and mastic trees, but the western part of the island is mostly plains, so tired tourists will find will take refuge from the heat in the shadow of pine and oak woods.
Take into account that the Eastern coast is a protected area, to illustrate, fishing in Cala Coticcio bay is strictly prohibited. In winter month car rides are allowed, but in summer and spring you will have to apply for a special license in the reserves’ administration and in the city hall. Cala Coticcio beach is known to visitors as «Sardinian Tahiti » due to a fine layer of whitish sand and pink cliffs of weird shape, gown with mastic trees, rockrose, heath and juniper bushes.
It will be easy for you to feel yourself a dweller of an earthly paradise next to Punta Rossa promontory, the southern extremity of Caprera island. Here you will see a true kingdom of Flora, where you can ramble for hours without feeling any boredom or fatigue. You can get a splendid rest on beach del Relito, specific for blinding whiteness of its sand cover, or in Cala Andreani bay, encircled with magic rocks of pinky-shadowed granite. Isola della Pecora is located two hundred meters east from Punta Rossa, it’s a true incarnation of antiquity in the world due to mica-garnet schists and gneiss, which make its surface. One more Caprera’s place of attraction is Garibaldi’s manor and his mansion, next to which Garibaldi was buried, seems to shelter the spirit of the brave rebel. The island is connected with La Maddalena with imposive bridge of dyke type – Passo della Moneta.
Bay Cala Corsara (Pyrate’s bay) is located in the southern part of the island of Spargi and not accessible from the side of dry land. It’s so easy to forget the worldly vanity on its small beaches: next to emerald-turquoise sea, sand dunes, grown with eglantines, rockrose, greenweed and juniper and granite cliffs of unusual shape one want thinking of the eternal. Diving into mysterious sea depth grants many fascinating surprises to amateurs of water sports.
Those who dream to learn an Alpinist craft should visit Santo Stefano, of the archipelago’s hilliest islands. It’s the fourth-largest island of Maddalena, where everything seems to breathe with history: there are caves settled by our ancestors immediately after the ice age had been over, granite quarries (a giant semi-processed stone bust of Constanzo Ciano, politician and serviceman who collaborated with Fascists is still there), and San Giorgio fort, from which Napoleon shelled the archipelago’s capital in far 1793.
Province of: Olbia-Tempio
Geographic location: near north-eastern coast of Sardinia, 123 km to Sassari, 48 km to Olbia, 150 km to Nuoro, 302 km to Cagliari.
Number of inhabitants: 10 884
Public holidays and popular events
July 20-22: public festivities in honor of Mary Magdalene, saint patroness of the island’s capital
Market day: Wednesday
Main shopping streets: Italian street, September 20 street, Giuseppe Garibaldi street.
Grand Hotel Ma & Ma 5*
Cala Spalmatore, Testa del Polpo, Monte d’Arena on Maddalena. Spiaggia Rosa on Budelli. Cala Coticciu, Brigantina and Portese on Caprera; Cala Corsara and Cala Granara on Spargi, Cala Lunga on Razzioli, Cala Santa Maria on Santa Maria island.