The mystery of Mangiabarche

At one point in Massimo Carlotto’s mystery novel, “Il mistero di Mangiabarche” (edizioni E/O, 1997), the main character – a detective known as The Alligator – is so discouraged he says:

“We consulted books on history and archaeology and guide books, but found no sign of Mangiabarche. We even asked all the people who came in and went out of the bookstore. I was overwhelmed by discouragement when I realized that none of the well-educated people of Sardinia, who loved and knew the island so well, had ever heard of the name before. Yet I was convinced it was there.”

Obviously the detective had not had the chance to look at Goffredo Casalis’s 1854 tome, “Dizionario geografico, storico, statistico, commerciale degli stati di S. M. il Re di Sardegna”, which states:

“Before entering the southern bay from Capo Sperone, there is a rock known as ‘Mangiabarche’ (literally, ‘boat-eater’ – translator’s note) for the many shipwrecks that have occurred nearby.”

He must have also missed “Dizionario generale geografico-statistico degli Stati sardi”, compiled by Guglielmo Stefani in 1835, which also mentions:

“Mangiabarche: a rock off of Sardinia, right before the southern bay formed by the Saline promontory, coming from Capo Sperone”.

To warn seamen of the dangerous “boat-eater”, in 1935 a lighthouse was built on the minuscule islet, which faces the northwestern coast of the Island of Sant’Antioco.

Case closed, detective.

Photos via: ©Iosto Doneddu

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The mystery of Mangiabarche

Calasetta (South Sardinia)

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