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This Island Is One Of Europe’s Best Kept Secrets

Tavolara Island (Isola di Tavolara in Italian) is a limestone and granite mountain in the north-eastern coast of Sardinia, Italy. The mountain is 560 meters high and 4 kilometers in length. The island is part of the Tavolara and Capo Cavallo Protected Marine area, established in 1997 to perserve nearby marine life. 

Legend has it that at the end of the 18th century, a man named Giuseppe Bertoleoni established himself on the island of Tavolara. Then, in 1836, he introduced himself to Charles Albert of Savoy as king of the island, making Tavolara Island the smallest “kingdom” in the world. The island is inhabited by Bertoleoni’s descendants to this day.

Tavolara Island is divided into three zones. Zone A is home to a NATO military base, inaccessible to visitors. Zone B is only partially accessible. Finally, Zone C is free to access. There, you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, diving, and even sailing. 

One of the two restaurants on the island is Da Tonino, run by the Bertoleoni family. Da Tonino is known for Mediterranean cuisine, mainly seafood. After you’re done eating, be sure to visit Spalmatore di Terra Beach. You can access the main beach as soon as you get off the ferry. With a mixture of small sand dunes and Mediterranean shrubs, this is one of the most unique beaches in Sardinia. The beach is free to visit with a limit of 924 visitors maximum allowed daily. 

There is also the cemetery located behind the beach, where the king of Tavolara is buried along with his wife and family. One of the most recent tombs is that of Pompea Romano, wife of Tonino Bertoleoni, who passed away in 2010. The largest tomb is that of Paolo I; you will recognize the tomb by its sculpted crown.

Lastly, there are trails for experienced hikers on the island. The most popular hike is a 6-hour venture that starts at Spalmatore di Terra Beach and ends at Pratone. Hikers are rewarded with a picturesque view of the Gulf of Olbia. Be careful if you are visiting during the summertime because the heat can be intense. 

With its scenic beaches, crystal clear waters, and spectacular view, Tavolara Island is one of the most stunning hidden gems in Europe. The island offers a unique and rich history along with restaurants, hiking trails, and a cemetery. These features make the island a must-see for any tourists in the area. 

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