La Maddalena (Sardinia): what to see in the islands


What to see in the Maddalena archipelago, which are the islands that make it up, where it is located and the main places of interest that deserve attention.

Tourist information

The archipelago includes various islands including Maddalena island, which is the largest and gives its name to the archipelago, Caprera, Santo Stefano, Spargi, Budelli, Santa Maria, Razzoli and various smaller islets.

Located off the coast of Smeralda, north east of Sardinia, the archipelago from an administrative point of view constitutes the municipality of La Maddalena in the province of Olbia-Tempio.

Since 1996 the Maddalena National Park was established, in order to safeguard the great environmental, landscape, historical and cultural heritage of these extraordinary islands and their sea.

The territory of the islands, which are all granite in nature, consists mainly of rocks shaped by the wind, surrounded by a lush Mediterranean scrub, rocky coasts, characterized by remarkable protrusions, and coves, with beaches with particular colors, which overlook on the clear and transparent sea.

Traces of human settlements dating back to the Neolithic period have been found on these islands, as shown by the obsidian tools found during excavations carried out on the islands of Santo Stefano and Spargi.

At the time of the Romans, the islands were assiduously frequented, since the routes of the ships provided for the crossing of the Strait of Bonifacio to reach northern Sardinia and subsequently the Gallic and Iberian coasts.

The collapse of the Empire followed a long period in which the islands were uninhabited and therefore subjected to pirate raids.

Around the thirteenth century the archipelago was repopulated with the arrival of some hermits and the foundation of small communities of monks who chose these islands to live in solitude.

There are traces of a building of worship on the island of Santa Maria, behind the cove of Chiesa.

At the end of the sixteenth century pirate raids raged again and only towards the end of the seventeenth century some families of shepherds, from nearby Corsica, landed on the archipelago and settled there.

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Meanwhile, the islands were no man's land, since at the time of the annexation of Sardinia to Piedmont, the islands had not been mentioned in the 1720 Treaty of London, so in the second half of the eighteenth century, at the delicate moment when Corsica was about to pass from the Republic of Genoa to France, the Piedmontese government agreed with the Corsican shepherds, inhabitants of the islands, their submission to the Savoy Kingdom and in 1793, when France attacked Sardinia, the opportunity presented itself to demonstrate the attachment of the Maddalena community to the Savoy dynasty, with the firm opposition from the Maddalenines to the attempt to conquer the French, among whom there was a still unknown colonel named Napoleon Bonaparte, among the local militias distinguished the Maddalenian noctorne Domenico Millelire, awarded with the first gold medal of the Italian Navy.

During the Napoleonic period, La Maddalena was the seat of the Sardinian Navy, from which the Italian Navy would be born in 1861, through the union with the regional navies.

During this period the English fleet, headed by Admiral Nelson, landed on the coast of Maddalena, an ideal place to monitor the Napoleonic fleet and to sort goods that concerned Great Britain, following the continental blockade imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte.

After the Vienna Congress of 1815 Liguria was assigned to the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Marina from La Maddalena was transferred to Genoa causing a period of crisis, overcome with the arrival of a migratory flow coming from Liguria, Tuscany, Ponza and Naples, recalled by the presence of granite quarries and fishing.

But the real growth of Maddalena began in 1887, when the archipelago was chosen as the third largest base of the Italian Navy.

The military base developed and operated intensively until the end of the Second World War, subsequently gradually lost its importance and today the Magdalene is no longer the admiralty seat, only a few structures with some detachments and activities remain.

From 1972 to 2008 the waters of the Maddalenine archipelago hosted an American military base.

What see

The Magdalene

In Isola Maddalena it is possible to admire, in addition to the extraordinary natural beauties, an interesting historical center which includes Piazza Garibaldi, the Town Hall and the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, located near Cala Gavetta, where there are the oldest buildings dating back to the late eighteenth century .

A panoramic road of about 20 km allows an evocative view of the coasts and other islands of the archipelago.

On the island there are splendid beaches, among which the most beautiful are Bassa Trinità, Giardinelli, Spalmatore, Monti d'Arena, Cala Lunga (Porto Massimo), Cala d'Inferno, the Strangolato bay, Punta Abbatoggia and Punta Legge .

La Maddalena island is connected by bridge to Caprera island.


Caprera, which reaches the highest point with Mount Teialone (altitude 212 meters above sea level), is by extension the second island of the archipelago after La Maddalena and is covered by numerous woods, especially pine forests.

Along the coast, marvelous beach coves alternate with rocky slopes and are reflected in a sea with crystal clear waters.

Caprera is famous for being the last home of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the place where he lived for over twenty years and where he was buried.

In a large estate there is his house, known as the "white house", with the museum that collects the objects that belonged to him, the stable that preserves his work tools, and his boats. The rugged coastline hides extraordinary bays such as the beautiful Cala Coticcio, nicknamed Tahiti for its splendid waters, Cala Garibaldi, Cala Napoletana, Porto Palma, Cala Brigantina, Punta Rossa and Cala Portese.

Santo Stefano Island

Santo Stefano in size is the fourth island of the archipelago, the highest point is Monte Zucchero with its 101 meters above sea level.

The island is made up of pink and white granite rocks and you can also admire it from the ferry along the route that connects Palau to La Maddalena.

On the island there are many tafoni erosions used as a shelter from man since the Neolithic era.

The island is dominated by Fort San Giorgio, built in 1773 to defend the archipelago.

In 1793 the fort was occupied by Napoleon who managed to set up his artillery by pointing them, albeit without success, against La Maddalena and for this reason the construction is also known as Napoleon's Fort.

In Cala Villamarina there is the homonymous granite quarry, where the unfinished statue of Costanzo Ciano stands out, which was commissioned by Benito Mussolini for the Livorno mausoleum and which has remained there since 1943.

Until January 25, 2008, the eastern part of the island hosted a US military base.

Spargi island

Spargi is the third largest island of the archipelago in terms of size and its highest point is the Guardia Preposti hill, 153 meters above sea level.

It is a very beautiful island, with a harsh and wild aspect.

The territory of granite nature, covered with vegetation, has splendid rock formations that wind along the steep coast.

Beautiful coves open in the southern and eastern part of the island, while the western coast is more rugged and is characterized by spectacular granite masses eroded by the action of the wind and the sea, which are reflected in a crystal clear sea.

The most beautiful beaches include Cala Granara, Cala Corsara, Cala Soraya, Cala Conneri, Cala Canniccio, Cala Ferrigno and Cala Bonifazzinca.

On the island there are numerous well-camouflaged military fortifications from the Second World War, such as the Batteries of Zanotto and Pietrajaccio.

In the seabed surrounding Spargi, in the dry corsair at about 18 meters deep, a wreck of a Roman honorary ship of the second century BC was found, with an extraordinary load of amphorae, pottery and various objects, partly exposed in the Naval Archaeological Museum " Nino Lamboglia ”on La Maddalena island, Mongiardino, on the Panoramic Road.

Budelli Island

Budelli, an island located just north of Spargi, reaches the highest point with Monte Budello, 87 meters above sea level.

Budelli is famous for its beautiful Pink Beach, which is located in the south-eastern part of the island and is fully protected within the archipelago National Park.

The coral color of the sand is due to a high presence of crumbled fragments of corals and particular shells which, combined with the intensity of the colors of the sea and the spectacular granite rocks that mark the cove, make this place unique in the world.

Santa Maria Island

Santa Maria, from the altitude point of view, is the lowest of the islands of the archipelago, as its highest point is only 49 meters above sea level. to Guardia del Turco.

On the island there is the beautiful beach of Cala Santa Maria, characterized by very fine, white sand and transparent sea.

On this island, around the thirteenth century, there was a church dedicated to Sancta Maria de Budello and a monastery of the Benedictine order, which was abandoned in the sixteenth century, while in 1800 it was partially demolished and adapted for residential use.

The island of Santa Maria is separated from the island of Razzoli by a narrow arm of the sea called Passo degli Asinelli.


Razzoli reaches the highest point with Monte Cappello 65 m.s.l.m ..

The island of Razzoli stands out for the beautiful and high cliffs eroded by the wind and the sea in multiple forms.

At the highest point of the northern end of the island, in an excellent panoramic position, the lighthouse is located, while in Cala Lunga there is an easy landing point.

Port of the Madonna

Between the islands of Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria, a splendid mirror of crystalline water called Porto della Madonna stretches, reachable by sea.

La Maddalena Island (February 2024)

Tags: Sardinia