No man is an island... except, perhaps, this man.
Meet Mauro Morandi, a 79-year-old, who lives alone on the beautiful Isle of Budelli in Italy’s Maddalena archipelago. He’s called this slice of paradise his own since 1989, when he departed mainland Italy.
The lonely start
He arrived at Budelli, located between Corsica and Sardinia, when his catamaran’s crippled engine forced him towards the island’s shores.
Disillusioned with modern society, Morandi sold his catamaran, inherited the retiring caretaker’s shack and never went back to his old life in mainland Italy.
Speaking about his early years, Morandi was quoted as saying by CNN Travel, “I was a protester in ’68. Then I stopped engaging in politics because I realised I was not made for armed conflict, I hate weapons.
“I started thinking about leaving a society that does not take the individual into account, but thinks only of power and money.”
Morandi monitors the upkeep of Budelli and lives in the tumbledown shack the former caretaker had lived in.
Morandi said that initially he was standoffish with visitors but mellowed over the years and now gives tours.
He added that he lives on the island because he ‘respects nature’ and laughs at the question of ever returning to the mainland.
He does, however, travel to Modena to see his two daughters a few times a year.
And while living by one’s self can get quite lonely, Morandi spends his time with creative pursuits. He fashions juniper wood into sculptures, finding faces hidden in their nebulous forms. He reads zealously and meditates on the wisdom of Greek philosophers and literary prodigies.
Another thing Morandi does to pass his time is take beautiful images of the sun rising and setting, the tide lapping over the sand and the stormy skies.
And these images he now shares with the world via Instagram and Facebook, all thanks to the Wi-Fi that was installed for the visitors.
Speaking of his fame on social media, he said, “I just get up in front of the sea to take pictures of the sunrise, have breakfast, I feed the two cats and then the hen,” he says. “Then I start working on the tablet to process photos, comment and answer questions, given that I have 5,000 Facebook friends.”
He adds that in the summer, the days are exclusively dedicated to communicating with tourists, who come more than anything else to meet the ‘madman’ who lives alone on an island.
However, in the winter months, visitors remain infrequent during which Morandi spends huge stretches of time alone. “I’ve never felt loneliness, because I’m fine by myself,” he insists.
Forever a resident of Budelli?
Morandi says he would like to remain on the island for the rest of his life.
However, Morandi’s place on Budelli has remained uncertain since the government takeover.
In 2016, his right to live on the island was challenged. But a petition protesting this decision got more than 18,000 signatures. He remains in limbo.
Time will tell what the future holds for both the Isle of Budelli and its sole resident -- who says he only wants the best for the island.
All photographs: @maurodabudelli/Instagram