Just off the coast of Sardinia, Italy, in the Gulf of Olbia, lies the lonely island of Tavolara, that rises out of the sea as a jagged mountain five kilometers long and one kilometer wide. Towards one end, facing the Italian coast, the mountain slopes down to form a narrow isthmus with a long, sandy beach. The isthmus is the only habitable part of the island. It’s here that Giuseppe Bertoleoni’s family and descendants have been living for the past two hundred years.
Giuseppe Bertoleoni, a Genovese immigrant, arrived on the island in 1807, with the intention of living there with one of his two wives and their children, to escape bigamy charges. Upon arriving, Giuseppe proclaimed himself as the king of the island, a title Giuseppe claimed was verbally bestowed upon him by Carlo Alberto, King of Sardinia, while on a hunting trip to the island in 1836. Since then Giuseppe’s family has ruled over the island and its only inhabitants —the family themselves— for the last seven generations. They sustain themselves by goat farming and fishing, and selling souvenirs to tourists. They also run the island’s two restaurants.