Carloforte is a beautiful village in South Sardinia. The municipality coincides with the entire island of San Pietro and is known for the fact that its residents do not speak the Sardinian dialect but “tabarchino”, and ancient Ligurian language brought over in the 18th century by Genoese settlers from the Tunisian island of Tabarka, where they had moved to two centuries earlier to fish and trade coral.
Once coral began dwindling and relationships with the Tunisian authorities became increasingly complicated, they came to Sardinia and founded their new town in honor of king of Sardinia Charles Emmanuel III, who had granted them possession of the island (named after Saint Peter according to the traditional belief that the Prince of the Apostles traveled through the island on his way to Rome).
Here is art historian Cesare Brandi’s description of Carloforte (translated from “Terre d’Italia”, Rizzoli, Milano 2006):
“In any other place, the Genoese – even after living in Tunisia, but that was a different context – would have become Sardinian after settling just a few kilometers from the coast of the main island […].”
“Instead, they continued to speak their own dialect with such a strong (and shuffled) accent that it sounded more like they were in Pegli or Camogli than near Teulada. The whole town looks different from the others in Sardinia: its plan is more Piedmontese than Ligurian, but definitely Northern.”
“The beautiful and welcoming seashore promenade, the wide gulf with its long line of Ficus trees – as common in Sardinia as they are in Sicily – and the palm trees are so pleasant they enchant everyone.”
“And finally the monument to the king, the neat houses so different from those we saw in Calasetta: they are two or three stories high, and even slightly colored – although not in the bright hues you sometimes see in Liguria. Then there is a small square that leads to the promenade, with a church at one end: square and flanked by trees of course. The church is slightly off to one side, like a perfectly regular man with one crossed eye.”