Tavolara Island

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Tavolara Island.

Tavolara is a small island of Sardinia, Italy. The island is a limestone massif 5 kilometres long and 1 kilometre wide, with steep cliffs except at its ends. Its highest point is 565 metres above sea level. Currently, the island is inhabited by only a handful of families, and has a small cemetery and summer restaurant. The water around the island is a popular spot for scuba diving.

The nearest sizable town is Olbia, and the small fishing village of Porto San Paolo is directly across a small strait. The islands of Molara and Molarotto are nearby.

Most of the population of the island was displaced in 1962 when a NATO radiogoniometric station was constructed on the western half of the island. The aerials from the station can be seen from quite a distance, and the entire half of the island is restricted to military personnel.

The island and the surrounding waters are part of the Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Preserve created in 1997. The environmental protections placed on the park has added restrictions to the use of the area for tourism.


Tavolara was one of the smallest kingdoms on the planet, but is now simply part of Italy, although it was never formally annexed.

In 1836, King Charles Albert of Sardinia visited the island and acknowledged Paolo Bertoleoni as an independent sovereign monarch. When King Paolo I died in 1886 the island became a republic, but the monarchy was reinstated again in 1895. Since that time the island's kings have all come from the Bertoleoni family, recognized as the rules of Tavolara by the Kings of Sardinia. Documents dating to 1767 affirm that Tavolara had never been a part of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

The present King Carlo II of Tavolara is an Italian citizen named Tonino Bertoleoni, who runs Da Tonino, the only restaurant on the island. Politically, the interests of the island are represented in its external dealings by Prince Ernesto Geremia di Tavolara, of La Spezia, Italy.

The royal tomb of King Paolo is in the graveyard on the island, surmounted by a crown. In the 18th Century, Sardinian lore claimed the sheep of Tavolara had gold teeth. The sheep herds were moved to Sardinia when the NATO station was built and there are no longer any sheep on the island.

The arms of the kingdom and island display a walrus sitting on a rock. The flag depicts a gold six-pointed star and crown on a red shield on a field of white.

See also


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