La Maddalena is a coastal town located in the northern part of Sardinia, in the Olbia-Tempio province of Italy. It got its name because the water here is so clear and blue, just like the color of Madonna’s mantle. It was formerly called Ilva, Bucina and Fussa by the Romans and renamed Bicinara during the Middle Ages. In the 16th century, it was named Santa Maria Magdalena and once again changed to the name it is known today.
La Maddalena is on the main island of the Maddalena archipelago, just off the coast of Sardinia. The archipelago is composed of more than 60 islands and islets and the islands were once a strategic military and naval base. Today they are a lucrative and attractive tourist destination, ideal for those looking for a quiet and relaxing vacation among beautiful untouched beaches, turquoise blue water and breathtaking islands, that were once beloved to Garibaldi, Italy’s national hero.
There is lots to see in La Maddalena and below is a list of things you must do while you are here.
1. Visit a museum
Guisseppe Garibaldi was a popular general, revolutionary leader and war hero of Italy. His successful military expeditions made him famous in Italy and overseas. He is responsible for unifying Italy and gaining their independence from Austrian rule. During his twilight years, he discovered the islands of Caprera. He fell in love with the island so he bought it and built his house there. He lived there with his family until he died, in 1882. Before he died he asked to move his bed to face the window where he could have a view of the bright blue sea.
Isola Caprera is now a tourist spot and his home now stands as a museum of his artifacts. His iconic deathbed is encased in glass. His remains are buried on the property, along with his family. The massive Clelia tree planted by Garibaldi during the birth of one of his children still stands today. It is one of the first things that you will see upon your arrival.
A trip to the island is like going back in time to how he lived during the 1800s. You can take a guided tour to show you around as you marvel at the premises. This long rocky island is beside La Maddalena and connected by a land bridge.
Address: Forte Arbuticci, Isola Caprera, 07024 La Maddalena OT, Italy
Website: Compendio Garibaldino
2. See some religious artifacts
The Museo Diocesano La Maddalena is found in the Parrocchia Santa Maria Maddalena (Parish church of Santa Maria Maddalena). It features an exhibition of the “Treasure of Santa Maria Maddalena”, which is an interesting collection of religious artifacts from the 16th to 18th century. You will see Gallurian jewelry, paintings, statues, ancient books, sacred vestments, tapestries and altar furnishings here. The liturgical silverware, bearing the coat of arms that belonged to Baron Giorgio Andreas De Geneys are some of the important items on display. He was a commander in the Sardinian military navy, during 1799.
Parrocchia Santa Maria Maddalena
Address: Via Barone Manno, SNC 07024 OT Sardinia
Website: Museo Diocesano (in Italian)
3. Visit the national park
Unlike a traditional park, where everything you see is green, the Parco Nazionale dell’Arci involves a group of islands in a sea of blue. People say this place is where the sea and land meet. The La Maddalena Archipelago National Park (Parco Nazionale dell’Arci) is a government protected geological and marine area that is composed of the islands found in Gallura’s northeastern coast. These islands are located in Bocche di Bonifacio, the sea that stretches between Corsica and Sardinia. Except for La Maddalena, some of these islands are completely empty or have very little human inhabitation, like the islands of Santa Maria and Caprera.
A presidential decree declared in May 1996 established a law protecting these islands and islets that are within and around the territory of La Maddalena. In the park, you will find creatures and habitats that gather together to perform nature’s greatest show on earth.
Parco Nazionale dell'Arcipelago di La Maddalena
Address: La Maddalena, Province of Olbia-Tempio, Italy
4. Feast on Italian cuisine
Typical Italian cuisine is composed of four to eight main ingredients and is popular for its rich delicious flavors, despite its simplicity of preparation. It is one of the best cuisines in the world and it has regional diversities, which prove how much Italians love to eat. One of the restaurants where you can have a memorable gastronomical experience is Trattoria Vecchia Ilva. The restaurant serves popular Sardinian dishes in its Meditteranean style interior.
Drop by to have a taste of Fregola pasta, served with porcini mushrooms, sausage and tomatoes, or the Culurgiones (pasta pockets with ricotta). These are just some of their best-selling dishes.
Trattoria Vecchia Ilva
Address: Largo Giacomo Matteotti, 1, 07024 La Maddalena OT, Italy
Facebook: Trattoria Vecchia Ilva
5. Indulge in Italian food
Sardinian cuisine has ancient roots going back to the time when shepherds needed food that was nourishing but simple, easy to bring along and able to resist various temperatures, while they herded their livestock. For this reason, Sardinian cuisine is a varied selection of dishes that are made of cheese, preserved meats and thin, light bread, paired with wine. In later years, their menu expanded and included the use of fish and seafood.
Sottovento is a bistro style restaurant, located north of the harbor. They serve some of the best seafood antipasti, fresh fish and homemade pasta in town. If you want to have a taste of authentic Sardinian cuisine, drop by Sottovento. In Italy, a meal is best shared with the family, so come to the restaurant with the whole clan.
Address: Vico Dandolo, 9, 07024 La Maddalena Sassari, Italy
6. Drink Italian cocktails
Italians love to drink - before and after a meal, with or without food. One of the best places where you can relax and have drinks is the Duke Cocktail Lounge Bar. This bar and lounge is set in a renovated wine cellar, made over with a posh, contemporary interior and a cozy second floor. It serves the best cocktails and appetizers in town.
Guests who have been here recommend the drinks called “Sardinian American” and “Nelson Blood”. So, if you are looking for a place to have an aperitif or a digestif, come over to the Duke Cocktail Lounge Bar.
The Duke Cocktail Lounge Bar
Address: Via Garibaldi, N.55 La Maddalena, Italy
Facebook: The Duke Cocktail Lounge Bar
7. Have some wine with cheese
Wine is one of the favorite beverages of Italians and there is no meal without it. One of the best places to buy wine is Enoteca Gialisio. It is a winery that is highly recommended by locals and travelers, who have tasted their world-class varietals. They offer wine tastings, together with a sampling of their handcrafted cheese and they sell a wide range of local wines from various regions of Italy at very reasonable prices. So if you want to shop for top quality wines and cheese to take back home with you, visit Enoteca Gialisio.
Address:Via Amendola, 48, 07024 La Maddalena OT, Italy
Website: Enoteca Gialisio (in Italian)
8. Cool down with a gelato
Buongiorno golosi!!! Vi aspettiamo per la merenda...Posted by Gelatissimo la Maddalena on Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Though summer in La Maddalena is very short (usually for just 2.8 months, from around June to September), it can reach an average high of 88ﹾF (31.1ﹾC). The best way to cool down is to have some gelato - Italy’s version of ice cream. It is denser because it has more milk and it is silkier and smoother than regular ice cream.
One of the popular places where you can indulge in this heavenly dessert is at Gelatissimo in La Maddalena. They offer a wide variety of gelato in unique flavors combined with various ingredients, like nuts, fruit, marshmallow and brand name chocolate.
Gelatissimo La Maddalena
Address: Via Amendola 45 La Maddalena, Italy
Facebook: Gelatissimo La Maddalena
9. Take a boat tour
Hire a boat to go on a tour around the islands of La Maddalena. The boats don’t simply offer a tour, they give you an interesting narration about the features of the islands and their mystical waters. You will travel in luxury and comfort on the new boats, where they also offer a delicious dinner, prepared by the chef on board. They also offer wine, while you travel around the isles in style. This boat tour is something you should experience with the whole family.
Full Day Boat Cruise
Address: Lungomare via Amendola (Banchina medaglie d'oro) 07024 La Maddalena - OT - Italy
Website: Full day Boat Cruise
10. Go scuba diving
The waters around the islands of La Maddalena are rich with underwater flora and fauna, that are waiting to be unraveled and explored. There are several companies along the beaches that provide scuba diving lessons. The expert scuba divers will give you professional lessons on how to deep sea dive and bring you to the suitable locations, where you can enjoy the underwater scenery.
Though there are several locations around La Maddalena where you can go diving, there are also places that are too remote, abandoned and very risky. The popular places to go, where it is safe to scuba dive are around Corsica, Palombaggia and the Iles Cerbicales.
Area 11 Diver
Address: Via Don Vico SN c/o Hotel Miralonga area Padule La Maddalena (Oliba-Tempio)
Website: Area 11 Diver
As beautiful as the Madonna
The beautiful town of La Maddalena is comparable to its namesake, the Madonna. There is no place on earth that could be as magnificent as La Maddalena’s virgin islands and blue waters. It is like a piece of heaven on earth and its rich Italian culture and history adds to its appeal as the ideal vacation place for the whole family.
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