Destination of the day: Carloforte Island
Carloforte also known as U pàize is a Ligurian enclave on the Island of St Peter off the south-west coast of Sardinia.
It maintains the language and culture of its founders, the coral fishermen who originally came from the Ligurian town of Pegli and colonised the island in the early 18th Century, naming it after King Carlo Emanuele III who gave them permission to settle there .
Carloforte with its small local population will captivate you with its picturesque sloping streets and alleys and colourful sea views. The famous Lion’s Gate marks the entrance to the ancient fortifications of watchtowers and fort walls. The village architecture is said to be some of the most beautiful in Italy, notably the Palassiu, Giuseppe Cavallera Cineteatro and the church of the Madonna del Naufrago.
On the seafront you can admire the monument to King ‘Charles the Strong’ with its marble group of three statues and at Spalmadureddu there is the San Vittorio tower, which was converted in 1898 to an astronomical observatory and more recently to be a multimedia museum of the Sea.
The coasts of San Pietro are predominantly jagged rocks and inlets with both rocky and sandy beaches. To the North is the romantic Cala Vinagra, to the North-West the deep fjord with the magical Cala Fico, and to the South the scenic La Bobba and Conca beaches. The ll Faro lighthouse dominates the promontory of Capo Sandalo to the West and due South are the famous Le Colonne sea stacks which rise from the water and have become the symbol of Carloforte.
With its ancient tradition of boatbuilding; many of the traditional sail fishing boats ‘lateens’ can be seen in the harbour. Reflecting the tuna fishing industry’s importance to the community, in the North at La Punta you will find the former community-owned and now private tuna processing plant. While part of this has now been converted to a water sports school, it remains of architectural interest.
Carloforte cuisine is to be savoured with an international gastronomic event ‘Girotonno’ in May and June. Equally enjoyable is the fascinating and picturesque tabarchino couscous festival held in April.
Without a doubt San Pietro Island with Carloforte is a ‘must see’ if you are looking for a microcosm of magical beauty and unusual culture.