The Island of Tavolara is a truly magnificent and unforgettable image on the horizon off the north east coast of Sardinia. It has also been labelled as The Smallest Kingdom in the World.
Known in Italian as Isola Tavolara this stunning piece of limestone rising from the sea to a height of 500 m (1,640 ft) can be seen from a range of coastal positions. We often could see it on the horizon from Budoni beach, Olbia or Golfo Aranci. The island is 7 km long and 1.25 km wide.
The Tavolara island has one side which is an inaccessible military zone whilst the other has beaches, a harbour, houses and a few restaurants. You can even take boat trips to the island in the summer from Olbia and Porto San Paolo.
Lying in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Isola Tavolara is neighboured by the smaller Isola Molara and Isola Molarotto. These provide a wonderful back drop for stunning walks along any of the fantastic beaches of Sardinia on the north eastern side.
Caves and crevices lie within the granite cliffs.
The island of Tavolara is a marine reserve of interest to scuba divers. We took a little exploration of the area on our boat trip from Golfo Aranci. It is believed to be home to around 150 moufflons (a goat like creature which is an inhabitant of Sardinia). Those on the island were labelled as “goats with golden teeth” by Carlo Alberto (Prince of Carignano) when he first landed on the island. The name came about since the goats teeth are discoloured by the type of grass they eat on the island.
The islands were first owned in 1807 by Giuseppe Bertoleoni. His son Paolo met with Carlo Alberto in 1836 during which Carlo named Paolo as “the king of Tavolara”. Even to this day descendants of Paolo will take tourists on boat tours around the island.
How it became known as the smallest kingdom in the world
It has been claimed that Queen Victoria of England on visiting the island took a picture and had it framed for display in Buckingham Palace. It is said that the picture was labelled as “the smallest kingdom in the world”.
Exploration of the Isola of Tavolara has discovered cave paintings believed to date from the Neolithic times. There are also over 70 architectural finds on the sea bed with some dating back to around the third century BC.
The island is also home to a range of bird life (including the queen hawk, peregrine falcon, golden eagle and the Caspian gull) and vegetation including rosemary, maples, olives and lentiscus.
Have you ever seen anything like the Isola Tavolara? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments box below.
Whilst we spent 2 weeks in Sardinia we couldn’t but notice the island every day as it stood prominently on the horizon. It is a stunning back drop to any trip to the east side of Sardinia to see the smallest kingdom in the world, otherwise known as the Island of Tavolara.