Isola Piana and Isola Foradada: Paradoxes of the Sea

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Isola Piana and Isola Foradada: Paradoxes of the Sea

The thing we love most about these two islets situated on the western side of Cape Caccia is that they are islands in the true sense of the word.

The thing we love most about these two islets situated on the western side of Cape Caccia is that they are islands in the true sense of the word. Sardinia itself is an island but is not isolated: people and their stories link it closely to the mainland, through a close web of relationships and bridges of the heart we can easily cross with our minds. The Tyrrhenian Sea, rather than separating Sardinia, links it to Italy: it is above all the medium of contact, it establishes continuity, it is full: the Tyrrhenian is land by another name. We perceive this sea as a barrier only as we are crossing it, when we are travelling to Sardinia and we can’t wait to get there. Isola Piana and Isola Foradada, on the other hand … they are true islands! They’re small, just a few metres from the coast, and yet they appear unreachable. Why is that? For the simple reason that we can’t set foot on them: their cliff walls dropping sheer into the sea impede us. And then why should we set foot there? They are quite simply enormous blocks of rock exposed to the Mistral, shaken by tempests, scorched by the sun. Ideal places only for the sea birds which nest there, the haunts of winged creatures, not for us humans. They are islands because humanity touches them not from any side. In particular, Isola Foradada (the Sardinian word for ‘pierced’) is so much an island that you could never live on it, but you could crawl inside: what it does allow is only a subterranean life. Indeed, the sea, over millions of years has dug out a cave, the Grotta dei Palombi, which crosses it from side to side. You can enter from the west by boat, but you can’t exit on the opposite side because there’s a large outcrop of rock: contrary to appearances, it’s a dead end. Barracuda and dentex swim among its enormous rocks and the sea paints its wall with the purest essences of blue and green. Backing out, you have the strange feeling of having seen a place without having been there.

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