I am a rock/I am an island–Simon & Garfunkel, “I Am A Rock” (1966)
The poet John Donne once wrote: “No man is an island.” But he never met Mauro Morandi. Morandi just may prove to be the exception to the rule.
Over 28 years ago, Mauro Morandi’s collapsing catamaran was carried to Budelli. Budelli is a small island located in the Maddalena archipelago, close to the Strait of Bonifacio in Sardinia, Italy. He decided to make his home there where he was almost alone.
Shortly after landing there sometime in 1989, he discovered the island’s caretaker was ready to retire. Morandi reportedly felt as battered as his boat at that moment. Hence, he made the life-altering decision to become the new caretaker.
Privileged visitors say that Budelli is one of the most beautiful of the islands that compose Maddalena Archipelago, National Park. Situated between Corsica and Sardinia, nary but a few tourists set foot in certain parts of the island annually, so, generally speaking, Morandi lives alone.
In a recent interview with National Geographic, he spoke of the advantages of his loner life. He said:
“What I love the most is the silence. The silence in winter when there isn’t a storm and no one is around, but also the summer silence of sunset.”
In the early 1990s, the Italian government deemed the island’s rare Spiaggia Rose (Pink Beach) an area of “high natural value” and was closed in order to protect its significantly fragile ecosystem. Just last year, the powers-that-be even challenged Morandi’s right to reside there. Fortunately for him, 18,000 people signed a petition protesting his eviction and his eviction is presently on hold.
Morandi stated: “I will never leave. I hope to die here and be cremated and have my ashes scattered in the wind.”
While he lives a hermit-like life, he tries to stay informed about world issues. Part of his day, however, is spent wood sculpting juniper logs. He sells them to the occasional tourist and donates the profits to charities in Tibet or Africa. He also spends time reading, meditating and photographing the landscape.
Most recently, an internet business is bringing Budelli Wi-Fi. Soon Morandi will be connected to millions of others across the globe. He believes that this will help others gain a better understanding of his isolated island.
Morandi notes: “When you love a person deeply you see him or her as beautiful, but not because you see them as physically beautiful…you empathize with them…It’s the same thing with nature.” He concludes: “We think we are giants that can dominate the Earth, but we’re just mosquitos.”