© Jeff Matthews
The port of La Maddalena
La Maddalena is both the name of the island and the largest town on that island at the northeastern tip of Sardinia; the island is part of the Maddalena archipelago in the Straits of Bonifacio, between Sardinia and Corsica. There has been human presence on the island since ancient times, but the written history of the island starts with the Romans, who called the island Ilva. In the 16th century, it acquired the name of Santa Maria Magdalena and, finally, simply La Maddalena. Today, it is mainly a tourist attraction, popular among Italian tourists, in particular, because it is the only way to get to the home of Italy's national hero, Giueseppe Garibaldi, on the smaller island of Caprera, now joined by a causeway to La Maddalena. Both islands are part of the Maddalena Archipelago National Park, created in 1994. In its history, La Maddalena was been invaded by Napoleon (!), was a naval base for Admiral Horatio Nelson (see museum note below) and was the home of a NATO base from 1973-2008.
La Maddalena hosts a significant Diocese museum; it is housed at the parish church of Santa Maria Maddalena (pictured, right). The church is in the late Piemontese Baroque style and is from around 1780. It is dedicated to the patron saint of the entire northern archipelago, Mary Magdalene. (The archipelago, itself, consists of 7 main islands. The Straits of Bonifacio, between Sardinia and Corsica, are considered treacherous by mariners. A closer description is here.)
The museum is conveniently near the entrance to the National Park of the "La Maddalena" Archipelago. The Diocese museum safeguards and displays a number of important historical items of great cultural interest, both ecclesiastical and secular. You will find not only sacred art but such things as information on immigration patterns over the centuries that have contributed to the demographic make-up of this part of Sardinia; you can also see altar furnishings donated by Admiral Nelson as well as his hand-written note that accompanied the gift and even this portrait of Nelson (left) aboard Victory. Guided tours are available in various languages upon request. Contact information:
Museo Diocesano “La Maddalena”
Via Baron Manno 07024 La Maddalena (OT) Sardinia – Italy
0789/737400 +39 349 1534391