Let’s take a trip together to Carloforte, the town where time stands still: shops and alleyways, bars and outdoor seating... all suspended, as though still existing in the 1960s, at once real and with the air of a fairy tale. Fascinating. Sometimes, in the evening, you can find the streets of the centre flooded with music: that catchy rhythm of the band – delightful trombones and bass drums that inspire joyful memories of when you were a child.
For our tour dedicated to the islands that will live forever in my memories, after La Maddalena we return to Sardinia. Our destination? Carloforte!
Ah, but keen-eyed readers will notice I just made a mistake, of course! Carloforte is actually the name of the main town, while the island is called San Pietro. The fact is that this town has such a strong identity that it has become synonymous with the island itself, so, in the end, the island has simply become known as Carloforte...
I spent a whole week here back in 2009. When I think back, I remember a ramshackle dinghy, hired directly from the owner of my accommodation – it was his private dinghy, and it became our preferred means of transport for the following days, taking us not to crowded beaches, but to secret reefs and small, hidden coves.
In the evenings, after a day of searing sun and salt, we would return to the town. I remember a small building in the centre, with three mini-apartments clinging on to each other along a breath-taking staircase: my friends and I rented the whole place out – there were three groups of us.
I remember the bells chiming every hour, starting at 7 in the morning: they only woke me up the first day, then the holiday mood got the better of me and I never heard those morning bells again (thankfully!).
Carloforte (the town) is unique in that it was founded by a colony of fishermen from Tabarka, an island off Tunisia. This was back in 1738 and Carloforte (oops, San Pietro!) became a new home to put down roots.
But to complicate matters, I have to point out that those “Tunisians” were actually Italians: a few decades earlier, they had moved from Liguria to Tabarka, attracted by the coral reefs along the African coast.
But pirate raids and the desire of the King of Sardinia Charles Emmanuel III to populate the island of San Pietro tempted those fishermen who spoke Italian living in a strip of Africa to move halfway between Tunisia and Liguria... In short, San Pietro became a beautiful melting pot (long before this term was coined)!
As is often the case, it is the local cuisine that keeps track of invasions and cultural fusion: in Carloforte, you can eat exquisite tuna*, alongside respectable couscous, as well as a perfect fainè, or farinata – the chickpea-flour focaccia typical of Liguria. Have you tried it? Thin and crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with a delicate chickpea flavour and a delicious rosemary aroma. Yum!
What a feast we had, that summer of 2009...
Lots of love, ciao! ❤️
*those Ligurian/Tabarkinians had not forgotten the art of fishing, despite their years enjoying the coral coast of Africa