Once Upon a time there was a 18 Year old Lisa that lived on a beautiful Island in Italy called La Maddalena, or La Madd the short way my shipmates and I referred to it. I was just getting started in the military in 2001 and on a cold December day after Christmas I found my self on a solo venture across the Atlantic to Italy. During the boot camp stages of the Navy I was presented with a paper called a dream sheet. See a dream sheet was a list of your desired places to be stationed in the Navy, but as legend goes the dream sheet was a lustful list that had nothing to do with where you got stationed.
There I was , young and ready to see the world, after all that was the reason I joined the Navy. I sat down with my dream sheet checking off in order of most desirable to least desirable, my top 5 places to be stationed. Italy was at the top of my list. I filled out my dream sheet turned it in and forgot about it. Low and behold my boot camp journey came to an end and it was time to head off, my name was called I was given my paperwork and what do you know..Dear Seaman Lisa you will report to La Maddalena, Italy ……. My mind drifted because I was not as excited as I thought I would have been. The panic of leaving my family to live half way across the world had set in.
Living in La Maddalena was a long time ago for me. I was 18 and as much I would like to say I remember every detail of that journey, age and distant memories have kicked in, however I did think it was imperative that I introduce you to the beautiful gem of an island in the Mediterranean Sea.
My visit to La Madd was more of a staycation than a vacation. Due to my career choice(yes that career choice again) I Lived in La Madd for 2 years. Unfortunately I was too young to realize the value of where I was and I spent most of my time there complaining or counting down the days until I would be back in America. created so many memories and adventures throughout my time there but I could have done so much more.
Getting to La Maddalena unfortunately is a journey which may be a part of the reason it isn’t over ran with tourist. Getting to La Madd requires flying into Rome(main land) then getting on a smaller plane to the island of Palau where a ferry is pretty much your way into La Madd. La Madd is located in Sardinia, Italy the very tip of the boot. There is unfortunately no easy way to get there, but once you are there you will appreciate the journey.
It has been awhile since I have been to La Madelana so I am quite sure there have been new additions and renovations to the hotels since the early 2000’s . While I was there the hotels were typical small European old school hotels. They were well-kept but without the luxuries that most travelers have become accustom to these days. The summer is the busiest season like all European islands. Because it is such a small island if your planning to visit in the summer book early. La Madd experiences various weather changes as well, not as cold as NYC in the winter but it can become quite cold and extremely hot during the summer.
While living in Italy I did have an apartment amongst the locals and for the most part we all got along quite well. Back then the Italian Lira had just changed over to the Euro and the dollar had a leg up so living in Italy was fairly reasonable. My days after work consisted of meeting my friends in the Piazza for dinner, drinks(I did not drink back then but my friends did ) and nightlife( the good old days). Now keep in mind I have stressed over and over that La Madd is a really small island, it is realistic to walk from one end of the island to the other quite easily. It is everything old school Italy. While some of the locals do speak english most of them do not, so get your Italian ready.
Businesses are closed from 2pm to 6pm for riposo (siesta). During the evenings the Piazza is filled with everyone both old and young lazily lounging on benches, kids playing and laughing and everyone having dinner at one of the small restaurants, or idly people watching at one of the cafe. My friends and I had our favorite places such as crystal Bar. A place famous for its Panini. On the weekends the best part of La Madd is visiting its many beaches. If you cannot tell by now from reading about my travels I am all about the beaches. (I’m an island girl). The beaches in la Madd are crystal clear and the backdrop is usually a very rocky outline. Depending on which beach you visit they may be a little crowded as the island is small and the beach is a past time of everyone there.
The beauty of living in La Madd was that it was authentic Italian living. The cobbled stoned streets and narrow pathways became apart of my everyday routine. If you saw someone around the island enough they would start calling you “my friend”. Although there was a language barrier they met me halfway in trying to figure out what I meant. Dinners were a four-hour process in La Madd. They literally served an 8 coarse meal. So if you think you’re grabbing a quick bite think again. I will not say I was crazy about the food. It was a hit or miss for me. Because I lived there I was able to cook at home but whenever I ate out I was a fan of the many different Panini’s. This can probably be blamed on the fact that I was too young to have such a vast pallet back then to appreciate the authenticity of Italian food.
My Favorite part of living in Italy was that I had easy access to the Island of Porto Cervo. I did not know the value of this place back then. I was obsessed with shopping and fashion. I would research for days on end for places to go shopping. The gift and the curse of living on an island in Italy is that it is very isolated from the mainland. Getting to Rome was about a 6 hour trek, so I had to find shopping options that were more accessible. A friend of mind introduced me to Porto Cervo and I was hooked. While everyone would have plans to relax or visit friends on their weekends off from work, I would be up at the crack of dawn making my way via the ferry and a bus to Porto Cervo to go shopping. As I mentioned before I lived in Italy at a time where the Lira still existed and the dollar had an upper hand. I would roam around all day to stores like Gucci, Prada, Versace and many other top designers. I was in shoppers heaven. It wasn’t until about a year ago I heard the name Porto Cervo being mentioned again in an article about Rhianna and her best friend shopping on the swanky island of Porto Cervo. Back then I wasn’t even aware that it was a big deal to be in Porto Cervo. Outside of Shopping Porto Cervo. has many beautiful beaches and is the playground for the wealthy.
I like to keep my destination blogs short and simple and La Maddalena is just simply a place that I cannot do it justice in a short blog. I would not have enough time in a blog to describe or recall all the fun things I did on the 2 year adventure. It is a really beautiful island that is probably as authentic and old school Italy you will encounter. If you are up for this kind of exploration then La Maddalena should most certainly be on your list. I plan to take a trip to La Maddalena again one of these days and hopefully I will be able to recreate an even more beautiful picture that will entice you to take a visit to the special island gem.