Only a twenty-minute ferry-crossing and Carloforte will soon appear at the bow of the boat, recognisable for its nineteenth-century buildings facing the port and the Battellieri and Cavour seaside walkways. Along the quay, there are ferries, rusty fishing boats and big motor boats with their nets still piled up among the fishing tools and lifejackets, yellowed by the sun.
While the ferry is being anchored and the hawsers thrown, you'll get wind of penetrating sea smells. It's the fish smell, mixed in with seaweed and salt water. This is when you realise that you have left the city to enjoy a totally different environment.
Carloforte and the S. Pietro Island are holiday destinations, but they also have been the stage of struggles between man and the sea, the sea being both friend and foe at the same time.
The name Carloforte comes from the famous tuna fisheries. For decades the local fishermen lived thanks to tuna fishing. This activity, it the beginning only a momentary way to survive, became a real industry in which the whole population invested in for its future.
However, the 70's registered the decrease of this revenue, once considered inexhaustible. The foreign shipping companies resorted to technology in order to catch the tuna in international waters. Captured far from the coasts, the fish didn't come back anymore, not even to lay eggs. And in the end, they disappeared
Nowadays, the tuna fisheries are only a memory, a sort of tribute to themselves, the symbol of a village not more than three hundred years old.
In the past, the Punics and the Romans arrived on the island, but they didn't stay for long. Perhaps they were not really attracted to a place where the only wealth was its nature. At that time they were looking for different things such as northern Sardinia's granite or landing places useful for commerce.
In any event, the Punics only left a temple while the Romans left some small settlements.
The "Tabarchini", Ligurians living on an island called Tabarka close to Tunisia, were the first inhabitants of the island of S. Pietro. They were mainly fishermen and coral gatherers, continuously subject to persecutions by pirates. For this reason they asked King Carlo Emanuele III to permit them to settle on the little island. The King accepted and the Tabarchini called their village Carloforte in honour of him.
The cliffs' ruggedness, the solitary white, sand beaches and the characteristic vegetation represent an important visiting card for anybody in search of the "real" Sardinia. It's a natural life in close contact with the sea, a life of numerous difficulties and isolation.
Carloforte's allure is definitely its authenticity. It is proudly defended by its population and also by its sea; a strong and untameable sea.
The highest point of the island is Guardia dei Mori. From this hilltop called "bricco" and where there still is an old abandoned lighthouse, the view reaches out in all directions, beyond the wonderful pine woods surrounding the hill. San Pietro's vegetation is no longer as thick as it used to be; before the junipers were cut down in order to build the village. Nowadays the landscape is sometimes monotonous, interrupted only by white, simple country cottages.
Travelling along the coastline, you'll find the Girin, the Punta Nera and the beautiful Bobba beaches only ten minutes from the famous Columns. These two red trachyte stacks are situated 20 metres from the coast and represent the symbol of the natural beauties of Carloforte.
Continuing along, you'll come across the Costa della Mezzaluna, a beautiful inlet characterised by cliffs and caves.
Worth mentioning on the western coast are the Spalmatore beach, Cala Vinagra, Cala Fico and Capo Sandalo, a sequence of unbelievable scenery interrupted by abandoned mines and small, countryside cottages, pine woods and volcanic rocks. The panorama is unique and deserves to be explored in detail. You will enjoy the exciting discoveries made among rugged, wild paths and arduous climbing.
It's a real paradise for thousands of tourists who enjoy their vacation on the island.