Maddalena archipelago

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Maddalena archipelago
Native name:
Arcipelago di La Maddalena
La Maddalena Archipel Aerial view.jpg
Aerial view of the archipelago
LocationStrait of Bonifacio (Tyrrhenian Sea)
Largest townLa Maddalena
Spargi Island
Looking across at Santo Stefano from Palau
Memorial for the dead of Roma battleship's sinking

The 'Maddalena Archipelago' is a group of islands in the Strait of Bonifacio between Corsica (France) and north-eastern Sardinia (Italy).


The archipelago consists of seven main islands and numerous small islets. The largest one is the island of La Maddalena (Italian: Isola La Maddalena), with an homonymous town of La Maddalena, which is the largest settlement at the archipelago. The other six islands, in order of size, are: Caprera, Spargi, Santo Stefano, Santa Maria, Budelli and Razzoli. Only Maddalena, Caprera and Santo Stefano are inhabited.

Lying adjacent to the tourist resort of the Costa Smeralda, Maddalena has the same clear waters and wind blown granite coastlines but remains a haven for wildlife. It is a designated national park, the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago di La Maddalena. It is a popular tourist destination especially among boaters. In 2006 it was placed on the tentative list for consideration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


The islands have been inhabited since prehistoric times. They were known by the Romans as Cunicularia and were a busy shipping area during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. The Maddalenas have a strategic value and were the object of a dispute between the maritime republics of Pisa and Genoa in the 13th century and subsequently were abandoned for a long period before being colonised again by Corsican shepherds and by Sardinian settlements in the 18th century. Napoleon Bonaparte, Admiral Nelson and Giuseppe Garibaldi all have historical links with the area.

The main access into and out of the archipelago is via the frequent car ferries from Palau on Sardinia that run into La Maddalena. There are roads only on Maddalena and Caprera.

The S. Stefano island NATO naval base which housed US nuclear submarines, closed in 2008. Controversy arose in 2003 when the USS Hartford ran aground while on maneuvers in the area.

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Coordinates: 41°13′13″N 9°23′22″E / 41.2203°N 9.38944°E / 41.2203; 9.38944