Some people feel one with their partner or child, while others feel one with their pet or an animal. In Mauro Morandi’s case, he feels one with an island.
28 years ago, Morandi’s dilapidated catamaran brought him to Budelli Island, a small, secluded spot between Sardinia and Corsica. Exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally, he fell in love with the island and its tranquil atmosphere.
He quickly discovered that the island’s caretaker was looking to retire and agreed to make a huge life change and take over his job as caretaker.
Budelli Island is one of seven islands that the Maddalena Archipelago National Park is comprised of, and arguably it’s one of the most beautiful. As for Morandi, he enjoys this beauty almost exclusively, as few tourists visit the island each year.
“What I love the most is the silence. The silence in winter when there isn’t a storm and no one is around, but also the summer silence of sunset,” he said.
In the early 1990s, Budelli Island’s rare Spiaggia Rosa, or Pink Beach, was declared a place of “high natural value” by the Italian government. In an attempt to protect this precious, natural beauty, the beach was closed off to all tourists.
Last year, the Italian government began to question Morandi’s right to live on the island but was met with a strong wave of protesting, as over 18,000 people signed a petition for his permanent residency. While his removal has not been enforced for now, there is no promise that it won’t happen in the future.
Morandi says, “I will never leave. I hope to die here and be cremated and have my ashes scattered in the wind.”
Despite what may appear to be extreme isolation and removal from all society on his part, Morandi’s skills and hobbies are many, and he puts them all to good use. During the day, he scales the island collecting juniper logs to carve into sculptures. When tourists do visit, he leaves them with a small piece of the island by selling the sculptures to them and donating the money made to African or Tibetan non-profit organizations.
In addition, Morandi enjoys meditating, reads voraciously, and considers himself an amateur photographer.
Now, he is being connected to the outside world through another medium: Wi-Fi. An internet company is finally setting it up on the island and Morandi is actually excited about this latest addition. He doesn’t view it as a negative or an intrusion into his island life. In fact, Morandi is extremely happy about the potential to share his beautiful home with the rest of the world. His life of solitude is not to avoid others but to protect and preserve something he’s fallen deeply in love with. It’s only natural that he would want to share that with others.
As he puts it, “When you love a person deeply you see him or her as beautiful, but not because you see them as physically beautiful…you empathize with them…It’s the same thing with nature. We think we are giants that can dominate the Earth, but we’re just mosquitos.”