After 30 Years Alone on an Island, He's Told to Clear Out

Italian authorities say Mauro Morandi has no claim to Budelli
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2020 2:24 PM CDT
Updated Aug 1, 2020 7:00 AM CDT
Island's Lone Inhabitant, 81, Fights to Stay Put
This 2009 photo shows the Isle of Budelli off Sardinia.   (Wikimedia/Luca Giudicatti)

It's a good time to be living alone on "one of the most beautiful islands in the entire Mediterranean." But the quiet paradise Mauro Morandi has enjoyed for 30 years on the Isle of Budelli off the coast of Sardinia will soon be taken from him, reports CNN. Italian authorities plan to refashion the former World War II radio station Morandi occupies into an environmental observatory, meaning the 81-year-old caretaker must clear out. But Morandi is digging in his feet. He says Budelli has been his only home since he arrived by chance while trying to sail to Polynesia in 1989, as the Atlantic reported in 2016. The former teacher fell in love with the one-mile-long parcel of pink sand and took over for the previous caretaker. "I'm ready to do all I can to stay here," he tells CNN. "I wouldn't know where else to go."

The island has changed ownership numerous times in recent years. Since 2015, it's been owned by the La Maddalena National Park, whose president considers Morandi to be an "illegal occupant" and points out the structure he lives in has been modified in ways that aren't exactly legal either. "Nobody wants to chase him away, but what title does he have to stay since the island is no longer private?" Fabrizio Fonnesu tells CNN. The eviction battle has been ongoing for years, but construction work is now just months away, and Morandi needs to go when it starts, says Fonnesu. Morandi, backed by thousands of supporters, has a request: that authorities agree he can return as caretaker. Otherwise, "they'll have to drag me away." Fonnesu is making no such promises but says that if a caretaker position opens post-renovation, Morandi could be considered for it—though he points out it would be a highly desirable job. (More eviction stories.)

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