Speaking of the smallest country on earth, many people will immediately think of the Vatican, Tonga, San Marino or Swaziland. In fact, Tavolara is the most pocket-sized “mini kingdom”. This island is the smallest inhabited kingdom in the world. With the old king, there are only 11 people in the country!
The island of Tavolara, which covers an area of only 5 square kilometers, is located not far south of the world-famous Emerald Coast of Sardinia, Italy. The island stands freely in the blue sea, looking like a bumpy mountain. The current king, Antonio Bertoroni, is an 83-year-old fisherman who is better known by the name “Tonino.” For the past 20 years, Tonino, wearing shorts and slippers, has been in charge of this scenic miniature monarchy leisurely. The old man jokingly said: “I am probably the most ordinary king in the world.”
Because there are no airports, railways, highways, bustling commercial districts, banks, hotels, and even a hotel on this island, the only place to live. The area is a white sand cape that can be measured with footsteps. Here, the king opened a restaurant.
Building your own island country may sound like a pipe dream when you are trapped in an isolated Mediterranean island, but the story of the Kingdom of Tavolara does begin in 1807. Tonino’s great-great-grandfather, Giuseppe Bertorioni, was a Genoa immigrant. When he was young, he was tall and handsome. Because he abducted a pair of young and beautiful sisters from the town, he needed a safe place. , To escape the sanctions on bigamy.
Later, Giuseppe and his two sweethearts discovered a small paradise island far from the town, almost isolated from the world. There is a rare wild goat, all fat and strong, which is undoubtedly the best food. As a result, the three of them led a wonderful life of fishing and herding sheep on the island, all self-sufficient and extremely romantic. From then on, Giuseppe became the first inhabitant of this small uninhabited island and claimed to be king on the island.
Interestingly, because these wild goats often eat seaweed and moss, their teeth are stained golden yellow. Later, the news about the “Golden Teeth Goat” finally reached the ears of Carlo Alberto, the ruler of Sardinia. In 1836, he took people to Tavolara Island to hunt this goat. At that time, Giuseppe’s son Paul was the guide for the hunt.
When he went ashore, the man introduced himself and said: “I am Carlo Alberto, the king of Sardinia.” Perhaps the ignorant is fearless, the 24-year-old Paul said humorously: “I am Paul, the king of Tavolara. ”
Carlo Alberto killed some goats and was very happy after a three-day banquet at Paul’s house. Before leaving on the boat, he said cheerfully, “Paul, you really deserve to be the king of Tavolara!” Are you kidding me, but Carlo Alberto later confirmed that this remote island never officially belonged to the Kingdom of Sardinia. He even gave Paul a royal scroll from the Savoy dynasty to prove Paul’s sovereignty. status.
Paul immediately created the Bertoroni shield coat of arms and painted it on the wall of his home. He also drew a royal family tree and built a cemetery on the island for himself and his descendants. When he died, Paul insisted on putting a crown on the top of his tombstone—a crown he had never worn when he was alive.
In the years that followed, news about this island nation spread to the Mediterranean, and the little Tavolara even formed many political alliances. Giuseppe Garibaldi was one of the founding fathers of Italy and soon became a trusted adviser to the Paul family; the king of the Kingdom of Sardinia, Vittorio Emmanuel II hesitated to travel long distances, in 1903 , And signed a peace treaty with 33 residents of this postmark-sized island nation.
In the process of collecting photos of world leaders, Queen Victoria commissioned a British naval ship to dock on this small island so that officials could take photos of the “Royal Family” in Tavolara. For many years, this photo has been on display at Buckingham Palace, entitled “The Smallest Kingdom in the World”. Now, a huge copy of this photo hangs in Tonino’s restaurant, aptly named the King of Tavolara, and decorated with a crown designed by Paul I.
In 1962, the completion of a NATO military base ended the kingdom’s independent status. At the same time, NATO also made a quarter of the island a restricted area for these few residents. However, like San Marino, a small country, Tavolara has never officially belonged to modern Italy, making Tonino the fifth king of this kingdom no longer recognized by the world.
Usually, His Majesty the King either catches squid, or manages his own garden, or patrols the more than 100 sensitive goats on the island of Tavolara and several endangered falcons that live on the top of the island’s 565-meter-high limestone mountain. For the past 40 years, Tonino has personally accompanied tourists to visit the family’s palace on the island-at first it was a rowing boat, and now it is a 25-minute cruise from the São Paulo Pier. “My family may have a glorious past,” Tonino said softly, “but we also work hard and live simple lives, just like everyone else.”
In fact, governing the kingdom is more like a family business. The king and his nephew Nicola are responsible for driving the summer cruise; the prince and quasi-prince, Giuseppe and Loledana run the seaside restaurant. Giuseppe’s nephew, Antonio, gets up early every day to go out to sea to supply most of the clams, lobsters and fish for the kitchen in the afternoon and evening.
Because Tavola’s beauty is like a peach blossom field, many travelers and photographers come here every year, including reporters from the British BBC and the American National Geographic. Thanks to the upsurge in tourism to the island, the Kingdom’s GDP has been performing strongly recently.
Ironically, Tavolara is now a jewel in the Italian National Marine Reserve and one of the regions with the highest biomass in the Mediterranean! Therefore, the island quickly became one of the best diving sites in Italy. Many tourists came here to play in the water with turtles, sperm whales and basking sharks, and then they would surface in the open air restaurant to breathe.
Although Tonino likes to greet the guests at the pier, he enjoys the most time before a large number of sunbathers and diving fans come to the kingdom. Soon after dawn, he likes to walk past several sunset-colored houses on Tavolara Island and follow the dusty trail to the royal cemetery. Since the death of Paul I in 1886, this land has accommodated every member of the kingdom’s royal family, the most recent being Queen Pombel, Tonino’s wife who died a few years ago.
Like most of the Bertorini family members before him and the prince who will succeed in the future, Tonino is an Italian citizen technically. “For me, being able to live here is already a privilege.” The old king often looked at the afterglow of the setting sun, gazing over the pier and watching his emerald green kingdom. For Tonino, who had a very comfortable life, no matter what With or without a crown, you are a king!