79-year-old Mauro Morandi enjoys a life of solitude on deserted Italian island


In 1989, Morandi set sail with his friends and decided to go to Polynesia “to look for an island and start a new life.” His journey would take him to the nearby island of Budelli. “I was very angry with a society that does not take into consideration the individual, but only runs for power and money,” Morandi said.

Morandi said there was one “caretaker” who was leaving the island, and he asked if he could move into his home. That was on July 1, 1989, and the rest is history. Morandi fell in love with the island and decided to make it his permanent residence.

“This island was what I was looking for … The whole island is my place.”

Budelli is located in the northern Sardinia region of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea and is part of La Maddalena National Park. The area is known for its pink sand beaches, which Morandi said is composed of calcium carbonate from seashells and a “pink micro-organism that gives color to the beach.”

Morandi lives alone on the island, but tourists visit during the summer — but only for a day and there are no overnight stays. The visitors are always fascinated by his lifestyle.

“No one comes from November to April, and then I enjoy the solitude,” he says. “I love, reading, taking pictures and sharing them with the whole world to communicate beauty.”

However, Morandi’s friends visit him and bring him fresh fish. (He lost his boat three years ago and can no longer go fishing.)

He relies on solar panels to supply power to his home and has a system for collecting and purifying rainwater to drink. He even builds his own furniture, using driftwood and other materials he finds around the island.

Several years ago, Morandi began posting his photos on Facebook and Instagram — allowing the rest of the world to appreciate the island’s beauty as much as he does. He hopes that by bringing attention to the island’s beauty, more people will fight to protect it.

“I am realizing that there’s beginning to be an awareness that it is essential to protect nature.”

In 1999, Italy closed Budelli’s pink sand beaches to tourists, who now — in an effort to protect the island from further erosion — may only walk along a pathway behind the beach.

“We must try to see the beauty to the end, and then we will respect nature and perhaps this world will be saved.”

His message to the world: “Looking at the surface is not enough. You must see beyond, feel the beauty, the scents, the whistling of the wind, the noise of the backwash, the gleam of the sun on the sea…”


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