Guide to Carloforte, one of Southern Sardinia’s most beautiful destinations
Carloforte is the only town on the Island of San Pietro and is very unique compared to other destinations in Sardinia.
Carloforte is a charming hamlet of just 6 thousand people, inhabited by Sardinians and descendants of Genoese and Tabarkinian colonies. The town was in fact founded by a Genoese colony expelled from Tabarka (a Turkish island). They were given the Island of San Pietro by King Carlo Emanuele III to create a new settlement. Today, Carloforte is a testament to the melting pot of Easter and Western cultures, and this is the atmosphere that you can feel as soon as you step down the ferry. The Tabarkian origin had an impact on the dialect, the customs and traditions. Spoken throughout the centuries in the Republic of Genoa and in its territories overseas, the Tabarkian language is still used in Carloforte.
The historical center of Carloforte is famous for its houses, painted in nautical style, its small gardens, stairs, arches and tiny streets with gorgeous 19th century facades. The heart of Carloforte is the square dedicated to Carlo Emanuele, a great starting point to visit the small town. There are many small shops where you can buy arts and crafts, and many small restaurants where you can taste the typical Carloforte cuisine, whose cashcà dish, similar to the Tunisian cous-cous, reveals the Arabic influence on this cuisine. A main ingredient is the Carloforte tuna, fished in the local Tonnara fishing nets, a rite that is celebrated during the Girotonno festival, between the end of May and the beginning of June.
Excursions to Carloforte
The Island of San Pietro has an area of 51 square meters, and you can venture inland following a trekking path. In the Western side of the island, Capo Sandalo is definitely worth a visit, where you will find a lighthouse from which you can admire the whole coastline west of San Pietro. This area is part of the LIPU Oasis, where Eleonora’s falcons (falco Eleonorae) and Audouin’s gulls nest. For those who love hiking, don’t miss Cala Vinagra, a cove at the outlet of a valley facing the small island of Vinagra. There are many associations organizing boat tours, diving or snorkeling excursions. Furthermore, there are also beautiful beaches such as La Bobba, just 10 minutes away from the famous Colonne (columns), two red trachyte stacks that arise from the sea.
The ferries to Carloforte leave from Portovesme or from Calasetta, and are operated by the companies Saremar and Delcomar. There are frequent connections from the morning to the night.