The Maddalena Archipelago is a land off the border of Sardinia’s north-east, a strategic position that has marked its destiny over the centuries. Along the road that runs along the coastal perimeter of the Maddalena, the ‘older sister’ of a good 60 islands and islets, modern history can be retraced in a place that has been the scene - in Antiquity, as well throughout the last three centuries - of epic naval battles.
In the second half of the 18th century, with the advent of the Piedmontese who made it a support base for Sardinian Navy vessels, La Maddalena, Santo Stefano and other areas of the archipelago were ‘reinforced’ by fortifications - the square tower, the San Vittorio fort, also called the Old Guard, and other forts including the Sant’Andrea, Balbiano, Sant’Agostino and Santa Teresa (also called Sant’Elmo). All are visible from the sea, to discourage pirate attacks.
Commencing in the early part of the 19th century, the defensive system was implemented with the Carlo Felice fort or ‘Camicia’, to protect the Maddalena passage of the Moneta, and with the San Giorgio fort in Santo Stefano. The structures were replaced over time. More recent are other sighting posts and fortifications arising from the late 19th century through to the world wars. More powerful batteries were constructed, occupying positions facing the sea, such as that of Nido d’Aquila and Punta Tegge in the south-western area, Punta Rossa in Caprera, and on the mainland in Punta Sardegna (Palau) and in Capo Tre Monti (Arzachena). Of strategic importance are also other Maddalena forts on high ground, such as Guardia Vecchia and Trinita, which dominates the splendid beach of the same name.
The archipelago, now a national park, hides evocative traces of battles and camouflaged amongst the rocks are anti-aircraft posts. Starting from the splendid Spalmatore cove and in another vast array of strategic locations: Carlotto, Zavagli, Zanotto, Pietrajaccio, Candeo, Cervo Mass, Poggio Baccà, Isola del Porco, Teialone and Punta dello Zucchero. All of these sites can be visited today thanks to the park guides.