The only permanent resident of Budelli for 32 years will leave this small island between Corsica and Sardinia. Aged of 82 and tired of the fight against his eviction, he also fell in love.
The only full-time guardian of the island
Budelli is a small island in the Maddalena archipelago, between Corsica and Sardinia, mostly famous for its Spiaggia Rosa, or Pink Beach.
Mauro Morandi, 82 years old, has been the only permanent caretaker of the island since 1989 and is going to leave the place empty of a guardian in the next weeks after years of eviction threats.
More than 30 years ago, Mauro Morandi took over a couple who didn’t like living in Budelli much. Too crowded with tourists during summer and too empty and windy during winter. But the colder period was also when he could enjoy the beauty of the island by himself. Summer is a complete different life, with lectures of nature preservation to tourists all day-long, and enforcement of the law forbidding the many visitors who crave taking a bath or bringing samples of the pink sand home.
The island is indeed famous for its beach of a pink color, made by crystals and fragments of corals and shells. It is also a protected area inside the Maddalena archipelago. And Mauro Morandi had a perfect view of it, facing the beach in his WWII shelter.
Internet only came to this isolated piece of land in 2015. And Mauro Morandi started to share the beauty of nature over social media, which brought him followers, media attention and shed light on his peculiar livelihood recounted in the book he wrote.
Mauro Morandi, originally from Modena, used to come back in mainland Italy twice a year to visit his daughters but had barely left his home after concerns he could not come back.
A new house in Maddalena
In 2011, the private company that owned and managed the island went bankrupt. A neo-zealanders bought the land but Italy decided to preempt ownership and administer Budelli. Italy became the official owner in 2016. And about a year later, Mr Morandi received a notice of eviction. Petitions for him to stay received several thousands of signatures.
But after 32 years, the local hermit, sometimes referred to as the Italian Robinson Crusoe, decided to leave for a house in Maddalena, a city of 10,000 people on the main island of the archipelago. His fridge doesn’t work anymore, and friends who bring him food – he can’t have a boat in this protected area – could only come a few times during last winter, one of the toughest ever, making it all the more difficult to live there. The house is going to be renovated by the National Park organization that administers the archipelago.
Mauro Morandi, who is legally over-aged to be employed, hopes he can return after the renovation, even offering his services for free. However, he is “too old to fight against eviction” he said. The loner who hated people and initially ended up in Budelli after his catamaran broke down on its way to Polynesia also fell in love recently. He will eventually get closer to his partner after years of phone conversations.