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Meeting Men Who Lived Alone on the Island For 32 Years – All Pages


PHOTOS BY MICHELE ARDU

Sunlight soaks Morandi’s porch, where he loves to eat and read during the summer.

Nationalgeographic.co.id—More than a year ago, when the world responded to isolation orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Mauro Morandi remained silent.

He had no reason to move because he had spent the last three decades in isolation.

In 1989, Morandi’s catamarans washed up on the coast of Budelli Island, which sits on a stretch of water between Sardinia and Corsica. Luckily, Morandi learned that the island keeper was retiring from his post, so he sold his ship and took on a new role.

Thirty-two years later, Morandi, known as Italy’s Robinson Crusoe, became the sole resident and guardian of the island.

Now, after decades of protecting one of Italy’s most beautiful islands, Mauri Morandi has given up his office, responding to years of pressure from the authorities who have asked him to leave.

The Spiaggia Rosa, or Pink Beach, gets its reddish color from microscopic shards of coral and shells including Miriapora truncata and Miniacina miniace.

PHOTOS BY MICHELE ARDU

The Spiaggia Rosa, or Pink Beach, gets its reddish color from microscopic shards of coral and shells including Miriapora truncata and Miniacina miniace.

Maddalena Archipelago National Park consists of seven islands. Budelli Island is considered the most beautiful of them because of its Spiaggia Rosa or Pink Beach. This rose-colored sand gets its unusual hue from the microscopic shards of coral and shells, which have slowly turned to powder by the tidal waves.

In the early 1990s, Sipaggia Rosa was dubbed a place of “high natural value” by the Italian government. The coast was closed to protect its fragile ecosystem – only a few areas remain accessible to visitors – and the island has rapidly gone from hosting thousands of people to just one.

Morandi spent hours gazing at the sea.  He believes Budelli Island is the essence of beauty.

PHOTOS BY MICHELE ARDU

Morandi spent hours gazing at the sea. He believes Budelli Island is the essence of beauty.

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In 2016, after a three-year hulum dispute between New Zealand businessmen and the Italian government over land ownership, the court ruled that Budelli belonged to Maddalena National Park.

That same year, the park challenged Morandi’s right to live on the island – and the public responded. A petition protesting his eviction garnered more than 18,000 signatures, effectively pressuring local petitions to delay his expulsion indefinitely.

But on April 25, 2021, Morandi told his Facebook followers that he had decided to leave at the end of the month after several eviction threats from park authorities.

“I hope to die here and be cremated and the ashes scattered in the wind,” Morandi, now 81, told National Geographic. He believes all life will eventually rebel against the earth – that we are all part of the same energy, which prompted Morandi to remain on the island without compensation. The Ancient Greek Stoics called this sympathy, the feeling that the universe is a living organism inseparable and unending endlessly in change.

Despite his hatred of people, Morandi cares for the Budellu environment with enthusiasm and educates summer visitors about the ecosystem and how to protect it.

“I’m not a botanist or a biologist,” said Morandi. “Yes, I know the names of plants and animals, but my job is much different from this. To be able to care for plants is a technical task – I try to make people understand why they need to live.”

Morandi collects plants behind his house.  A friend delivers groceries to the island every two weeks.

PHOTOS BY MICHELE ARDU

Morandi collects plants behind his house. A friend delivers groceries to the island every two weeks.

Morandi said that teaching people how to see beauty would save the world from exploitation. “I want people to understand that we should try not to see beauty, but to feel beauty with our eyes closed,” he said.

Winter in Budelli is equally beautiful and lonely. He found solace in introspection, and often sat on the beach with only the sound of the wind and waves to mark the silence.

Morandi spent his time in creative pursuits. He sculpted juniper wood, finding faces hidden in their vague forms. He read eagerly and pondered the wisdom of Greek philosophers and literary miracles. He took pictures of the island, admiring how it changed from hour to hour, season to season.


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