San Pietro island and the “Tonnare”


The Island of S. Pietro known as Carloforte, after its main town, is located on the south-western coast of Sardinia.  Carloforte has its roots in the mix of ethnic groups from the entire Mediterranean basin. In 1738 some Genoese sailors from Tabarka, a former Ligurian colony on the Tunisian coast, landed on the uninhabited island attracted by the coral reefs and the rich presence of tuna.

The architectural details in the façades, the characteristic features of the alleyways called caruggi after the Ligurian ones, the unique blend of Arabic and Mediterranean architecture make Carloforte a really special town to visit. Carloforte has its own dialect which is a variant of the Ligurian language with Arabic, Sicilian and French influences that testify to the town’s history, unique in Sardinia.  Apart from its culture, the island also has incomparable natural beauty and immaculate beaches. The evolution 0f the islanders culture and a tradition has formed them into inimitable shipwrights and tuna fishermen by vocation. Over the course of history, a profound ritual has been consolidated that links this wonderful place in the Mediterranean to tuna. The tuna fishing is a very ancient practice and for the islanders the tuna fish has had a great deal of importance. Phoenicians were the first to practice the slaughter of the tuna which migrates every spring through the Atlantic to reach the Mediterranean Sea for reproduction.  The Phoenicians loved tuna so much that they even minted this symbol on their coins!

The bluefin tuna is one of the most prized species in the Mediterranean and is highly sought after and considered as the finest in the world. St Peter’s island is internationally known as the top in quality tuna fishing with 4000 specimens caught every year. Since 1738, when the tabarkini people arrived on the island they have caught this valuable fish. The Island of San Pietro is the oldest site of the use of traps of which there is evidence through visible finds. Over the centuries this ancient tradition and the relative wealth of knowledge has been passed on from father to son. The traps of Carloforte since the eighteenth century, have been catching and processing the so-called “running tuna”, with red and fatty meat, according to artisanal methods. Bluefin tuna is particularly appreciated by chefs from all over the world and in particular in Japan. Every year, approximately three quarters of the world’s population of this species  is caught and now unfortunately endangered  It is no coincidence that the European Parliament has approved a regulation to protect this particular species of tuna, assigning a catch quota to each member country to avoid overfishing and to avert the danger of the extinction of the species.

If you want to experience the culture and the delights of the local cuisine look at going to Carloforte for the “Girotonno” a four-day event of culture, arts, food and wine, music and entertainment. You will also taste some exquisite tuna dishes!

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