Mauro Morandi found serenity in solitude decades before self-isolation became the norm.
Source: National Geographic
Millions of people around the world are under isolation orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but one man has spent the past three decades in isolation by choice.
In 1989, Mauro Morandi’s catamaran—engine crippled and anchor adrift—washed up on the coast of Budelli Island, located on a stretch of water between Sardinia and Corsica. As luck would have it, Morandi learned that the island’s caretaker was retiring from his post, so he sold his boat and assumed a new role.
Thirty-one years later, Morandi remains the sole resident and guardian of the island.
Maddalena Archipelago National Park is comprised of seven islands. Budelli is considered the most beautiful among them for its Spiaggia Rosa, or Pink Beach. The rose-colored sand derives its unusual hue from microscopic fragments of corals and shells, which have been slowly reduced to powder by the shifting tides.
In the early 1990s, Spiaggia Rosa was dubbed a place of “high natural value” by the Italian government. The beach was closed off to protect its fragile ecosystem—only some areas remain accessible to visitors—and the island rapidly went from hosting thousands of people a day to a hosting just one.
In 2016, after a three-year legal battle between a New Zealand businessman and the Italian government for ownership of the land, a court ruled that Budelli belonged to Maddalena National Park. The same year, the park challenged Morandi’s right to live on the island—and the public responded. A petition protesting his eviction garnered more than 18,000 signatures, effectively pressuring local politicians to delay his expulsion indefinitely.
This is not unusual for people who spend extensive periods of time alone. Scientists have long posited that solitude generates creativity, and point to generations of artists, poets, and philosophers who produced their greatest works in seclusion from society.
But the benefits of solitude may not be universal. “Solitude can be stressful for members of technologically advanced societies who have been trained to believe that aloneness is to be avoided,” writes Pete Suedfeld in Loneliness: A Sourcebook of Current Theory, Research and Therapy. Nonetheless, there are many secular and devotional cultures around the world that venerate and preserve solitude.
When Wi-Fi inevitably found its way to this nearly unpopulated island Morandi adopted it and began sharing his beloved piece of paradise with the world through social media. Embracing this new form of communication is his concession on behalf of a larger purpose—to facilitate a bond between people and nature by exposing them to its beauty. A bond Morandi hopes will motivate people to care for the planet wherever they are.
“Love is an absolute consequence of beauty, and vice versa,” Morandi says. “When you love a person deeply you see him or her as beautiful, but not because you see them as physically beautiful … you empathize with them, you’ve become a part of her and she’s become a part of you. It’s the same thing with nature.”
Source: National Geographic