When you visit the National Park of La Maddalena’s Archipelago, you will notice that in front of one specific Island, there is always a queue of boats passing in front of the same bay and taking pictures continuously. This place is known as “Spiaggia Rosa”, Italian for Pink Beach.

Its pinkish color is derived from a microorganism called Miniacina Miniacea or Pink Miniacina, easily visible to the naked eye and can be seen as a series of small branched organisms with intense pink color. It is particularly common in the Mediterranean Sea, although it can be found in other places as well.

This organism lives on the roots of the seagrass just outside of the bay in which the pink beach is found. By ditching from the root, when washed to shore, it mixes with the white thin sand thus creating an amazing effect of pink sand, at least, it used to.

In the 70’ 80’ and 90’ many big tour boats would take turns to unload hundreds of people every day on a small beach that was made famous from a few movies such as “Red Desert” by Michelangelo Antonioni, and various documentaries. Back then, not everyone had an “environmental conscience” and it was a popular gesture to take some sand home as a free “souvenir” from Sardegna.

After decades of sand theft, suddenly the Pink Beach wasn’t so pink anymore and it was starting its bleaching process. In 1998 the National Park decided to close access to the beach in order to preserve what is was left of it and hope for the conditions to recreate.

Today, the only person who has been granted access to it is Mauro Morandi (a.k.a. Mauro da Budelli). He is a true Robinson Crusoe of Budelli Island. His boat broke down on its way to the Caribbeans in front of Budelli, two days before the previous guardian resigned, talking about timing! So he decided to take his place and stay for a while.

Mauro fell in love with the deserted island and ended up living there since 1989. The hut in which he passed the last 30+ years of his life is placed right behind the Pink Beach, making Mauro the unofficial guardian of the precious sand. This was his unpaid job since the day they closed access to the bay.

The island was auctioned in 2016 and became the property of the National Park, as it was privately owned by a company that was intentioned to build a resort but fortunately it failed to.

Today Morandi is over 80 years old, he wrote a book on his lonely life on the island (La Poltrona di Ginepro), and thanks to the advent of technology, you can follow him on Instagram.

The National Park manifested the will to send Morandi away, due to his age (more than 80 y.o.), and the “unofficial guardian” will be replaced by surveillance cameras. How unromantic is that!

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