La Maddalena is an island located in northern part of Sardinia in Italy. The island is not very heavily populated and is a part of the province of Olbia-Tempio. It is a commune and the largest city on the island is the La Maddalena town. The island is quite famous for its beautiful beaches and has a rocky terrain. There are several ancient ruins and some fortifications that are still left on the island.
The island of La Maddalena is connected to the nearby island of Caprera by a narrow causeway. In fact, La Maddalena is known as an archipelago (protected as a National Park) since it is a series of smaller islands that are linked together.
The island has a long and interesting history. It is known to have been inhabited since the prehistoric ages. However, most ruins suggest that real inhabitation on the island only began during the rule of the Roman Empire. Over the centuries the island has been exchanged through several hands and its name was also changed many a times.
Attractions in La Maddalena
La Maddalena is quite a small island and the best thing to do here is to experience the local way of living and the relaxed and calm atmosphere. There aren't many activities to do here; except for a few places to visit which can all be covered in one or two days' time. The island is about relaxation and not about hectic activities and lots of attractions. A few places to visit on the island are listed below.
Piazza Umberto I
The Piazza Umberto I is the center point for all the activities on the island. The Piazza was formerly known by a different name, "Piazza Rossa" and the older people on the island still refer to it by the old name. The Piazza is the place where the most activity is seen during the day. This is where the locals meet and chat before departing to their respective destination. The Piazza is surrounded by a lot of old buildings, some of which are quite noteworthy and admirable.
La Maddalena is mainly known for its beautiful beaches and its many coves. Cala Francese is one of the popular beaches on the island and it tends to get crowded on weekends and especially in summers. On summer afternoons the locals and the tourists all flock to the beach to enjoy swimming in the cool water. The beach is quite clean and well maintained and is enjoyable for relaxation or sunbathing. There are plenty of shops here that sell swim wear. There aren't many facilities around the beach, but beach chairs and umbrellas are available in the nearby hotels and for a price they would lend these to visitors.
Via Garibaldi is located close to the main Piazza. The street connects to the port from where all the ferries depart for the other locations. This is a commercial street that is lined with several shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Most tourists that visit the island are mostly seen exploring the pretty street and dining in one of the restaurants here. The street is also quite enjoyable for an afternoon stroll or just for checking a few of the local stores.
Bassa Trinità is another famous beach on the island. Like Cala Francese, this beach also gets very crowded in peak tourist seasons. Most people who visit the island come here for its beautiful beaches. And the two main beaches on the island are where the tourists generally go to enjoy a relaxing day. The beach is sandy and is kept quite clean by the local authorities. Bassa Trinità is also a favorite with the locals and on weekends and Sunday evenings, the locals come to the beach for strolling around or for just an afternoon picnic.
The island has two main campsites which can be quite fun for those who love the outdoors.
Getting to La Maddalena
The only way to reach La Maddalena is by boat or ferry. The large boats and ferries depart every few minutes from several destinations in Italy. Palau is located quite close to Maddalena and most ferries coming in to the island are from Palau. The ferries do not take long to reach La Maddalena from Palau. Plenty of motor boats also depart for the island from other destinations along the coast. The tickets are very inexpensive and it doesn't take long to reach it. However, during the rush hours and the peak office timings the boats tend to get extremely crowded and it might be difficult to get tickets. The best option is to avoid the rush hours and travel at other times.
Moving Around the Island
La Maddalena is a very small island and there are only a handful of sights to be explored. The best option is to explore the island on foot. The main attractions on the island are located in the main town of La Maddalena, all within a short distance from one another. Apart from the general attractions and the churches, the most enjoyable thing to do in La Maddalena is to observe the ancient buildings and the old houses in the streets of La Maddalena town. Most visitors come to the island to experience the laid back lifestyle of the locals and walking around the island is the best way to do that.
Stay and Accommodation
The population of La Maddalena is quite low and tourism here is still not full fledged so the options in terms of hotels are limited. Those who enjoy the outdoors can try the camping sites on the island, one of which is Camping Maddalena, where tents and all other facilities are available. There is also a small family run hotel called Cala Francese residence close to the beach of the same name.
Eating Out on La Maddalena
There are a few small restaurants on the island and some expensive and larger ones in the main town of La Maddalena. The food is mainly local Italian dishes and fresh sea food.
Shopping on La Maddalena
There aren't many places to shop in La Maddalena. However, in the main town of Maddalena there are a few shops that sell glass ware, wines and cheeses.