The Maddalena archipelago (Italian: arcipelago di La Maddalena or arcipelago della Maddalena) is a group of islands in the Straits of Bonifacio between Corsica (France) and north-eastern Sardinia (Italy) next to the shores of the famous Costa Smeralda.
The largest island is Isola Maddalena, on which sits the archipelago's largest if only town, La Maddalena. The other six islands, in order of size, are: Caprera, Spargi, Santo Stefano, Santa Maria, Budelli and Razzoli. The islands of Maddalena and Caprera are connected by a bridge. Only Maddalena, Caprera and S. Stefano are inhabited.
It is a popular tourist destination especially among boaters. In 2006 it was placed on the tentative list for consideration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The archipelago's territory is a designated national park, the Parco Nazionale dell'Arcipelago di La Maddalena (see also at the parks.it). Permits issued by its managing body to enter protected zones of the park and exercise various recreational activities, like sailing, sport fishing, scuba diving, etc. (check for the visitor's information).
The archipelago have a strategic value and were the object of a dispute between the maritime republics of Pisa and Genoa in the 13th century and subsequently were abandoned for a long period before being colonised again by Corsican shepherds and by Sardinian settlements in the 18th century. Napoleon Bonaparte, Admiral Nelson and Giuseppe Garibaldi all have historical links with the area.
Santo Stefano still hosts a NATO naval base, but U.S. ships left in 2008.
A product of India slamming in to Asia and Europe millions of years ago, these islands are mainly jagged rock that form steep cliffs and high peaks with amazing views all around.
The island of Budelli is particularly renown for its Spiaggia Rosa (Cala di Roto) with pink sand which were featured in the film Il deserto rosso (Red Desert) by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni. Tourists used to bottle up the sand and over years it began to disappear, so the local government marked it off limits, only to be seen from a boat.
Windy relatively cold winters, amazing autumns and springs, hot summers.
- Informazioni Turistiche Città di La Maddalena, Via XX Settembre (centro storico), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu Th F 08:30-13:30, M W 08:30-13:30, 15:30-19:30.
Two bus lines run around the islands of La Maddalena and Caprera, which are linked to each other by a bridge.
Several shops on the harbour front will rent bikes and scooters to passing tourists. Among them, Mega motors (via Amendola 2, every day from 09:00 to 19:00) is run by two friendly sisters and offers bikes (€15/day) or scooters (€25-60/day depending on power and time of year). Discounts start at the second day of rental and prices drop strongly between high (July–August) and low seasons.
La Maddalena island
La Maddalena is a small charming town.
- 1 Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena. The church dates from the 18th century. Its current neo-classical façade was rebuilt in 1993 after alterations made in 1952.
- 2 (Naval Archaeological Museum "Nino Lamboglia"), Strada panoramica, loc. Mongiardino, ☏ . 09:30-12:30, 15:30-18:30 (by appointment only). A collections of artefacts from the wreck of a Roman cargo ship found near the island of Spargi.
The island known for being the final resting place of the Hero of Two Worlds Giuseppe Garibaldi, who built there his famous Casa bianca (White House) during his last years in exile. Today the house is a museum and open to the public.
- 3 Compendio Garibaldino di Caprera (Garibaldi Compendium) (from La Maddalena take a bus to the Caprera island). including the tomb of Garibaldi and the Casa di Garibaldi.
- 4 Memoriale Garibaldi (Forte Arbuticci).
- 5 [formerly dead link] Museo del mare e delle tradizioni marinaresche (Museum of the Sea and seafaring traditions) (Stagnali).
- 6 Museo geo-mineralogico naturalistico "G. Cesaraccio" (Museum of geo-mineralogical nature [formerly dead link]) (Stagnali), ✉ email@example.com.
San Stefano island
- 7 Costanzo Ciano statue. At the eastern side of the Cala di Villamarina (small inlet at the southern shore of the island) there is an abandoned granite quarry with an bust of an Italian fascist activist Costanzo Ciano left unfinished there in 1943.
There are many beautiful beaches and coves, the best ones being usually off-road and only accessible via unpaved trails. The closest one to the village is that of Tege, about 2 km west of town.
The best beaches are usually on La Caprera (cala Coticcio, Testa di Polpo) and will require a 5–10 minutes easy hike to reach. On Maddalena, Trinita is definitely worth a look.
There is a Dettori supermarket next to the Admiralty, on via Principe Amedeo.
It worth trying a su zimminu (aka zuppa alla maddalenina) -- a spicy seafood soup, a roasted wild rabbit, fainé pancakes made of chickpea flour, sebadas—a roasted pastry (close to ravioli) with sweet melted cheese and lemon peel.
- Il Ghiottone is a tiny restaurant on the harbour with a set menu that consists of the day's catch. With ten tables only, it is best to book in the morning and see what will be on offer.
Club Natica, Re Artu, and Bar 54.
On the south-western side of the island there is a small gulf (a "cala" in Italian) named "Cala Francese". This once was a French granite mining site, this granite has been used for making, among other things, the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. You can find a residence, run by a local family, near the now closed mine: Cala Francese Residence.
The island has two campsites. La Villagio di Camping Maddalena, which is in walking distance of Maddalena the town, has facilities for tents and caravans, and has a bar, a restaurant with an excellent pizza oven and grill, and a mini-market. The other camping village is further to the north of the island.
The island is very safe, and theft is not a serious concern.
Unless you have a private boat, take a ferry back to Palau.