After 32 years alone in paradise, Mauro Morandi was forced back to civilization

In 2019, we went and met Mauro Morandi on the secluded Italian island of Budelli, found off the north of Sardinia. Morandi had lived on the island for 30 years, crafting a simple, isolated life as Budelli’s lone resident. 

Two years later, Morandi was evicted from the island, and sadly his return to civilization hasn’t been smooth sailing.

The story of how Mauro Morandi came to find himself on Budelli is remarkably simple. He docked his boat there in 1989 and discovered the caretaker was retiring in two days. Morandi put himself forward as the successor and extended his stay for 32 years.

His was a hermitic but happy life there. He collected rain for drinking water and built solar panels for electricity. He was evidently content in his own company, with birds his main companions for most of the year, but friends and family would come and visit Morandi on his picturesque home during the summer months later in his tenure. He wanted to live on Budelli as long as his health allowed.

“Beauty is where there are no people,” he rather misanthropically told us.

Mauro Morandi budelli paradise
Morandi looking out over Budelli.

Located off the north coast of Sardinia, Budelli is best known for its pink beach that is now heavily protected after being “destroyed”, according to Morandi. “It took 10,000 years to make this beach,” he said. “Mankind has destroyed it in 20.”

There are other beaches with a less pink hue that are also beautiful, and make Budelli a popular day trip for tourists who travel from the island of La Maddalena. The authorities of La Maddalena look after Budelli, and it was their decision to evict Morandi, with plans to turn the isolated island into an environmental observatory.

After years of fighting against a return to civilization, the then 82-year-old Morandi finally accepted his fate in 2021. His parting message was simply: “My balls are broken” – Italian slang for “I’m fed up”. 

Mauro Morandi budelli paradise
An aerial view of the Rosa beach, located on the island of Budelli.

The national park authorities argued that Morandi made changes to the building without the required permits.

He moved to a small apartment on the island of La Maddalena, a popular tourist town with around 15,000 permanent residents. Compared to his life on Budelli, it felt like a sprawling metropolis and though he was optimistic at first, a recent interview with i newspaper indicates a different perspective. 

“Four months after I was evicted from Budelli, I started having health issues,” he told the paper. “When I lived on the island I was as healthy as a horse: not once did I catch a cold or flu. I exercised daily and meditated.” 

Read More: St. Helena | The isolated island where Napoleon died in exile

Now aged 84, Morandi’s health has deteriorated. “My diabetes symptoms have exploded, even though I’ve always had the disease. My blood pressure is sky-high, my leg is sore, I almost had a stroke. I need regular medical help and frequent hospital checks. I can hardly walk because of my leg, I take pills and stay most of the day locked up inside my little house. What I miss most of the island is its silence: here, at night, it’s crazy traffic. Cars and motorbikes going up and down don’t let me sleep, driving me nuts…Being around more people can be overwhelming sometimes.”

While he conceded that “some locals in town are nice and friendly”, he also mentioned a bitterness from La Maddalena residents who “still look at me sideways as an outsider…they’ve always thought I was living a privileged life on Budelli and hated that. They were happy when I was evicted.”

He still enjoys solitude and spends most of his days reading and sitting on his balcony, looking out at the sea. It may not have the peace and quiet of Budelli, but he realises the slightly larger Italian island is still a beautiful little slice of earth and that “things in life change… I’ve learnt to adapt. La Maddalena is my new home now, and it’s okay.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More like this