The houses on the waterfront in the historic centre of La Maddalena have pure and precise lines, they are bright, and are mainly two stories high, they are plastered and painted with pastel colours. Since the 18th century the islanders have strived to distinguish themselves from the other towns in the Northern Sardinia, where houses are made of unhewn granite without decorations nor balconies with wrought-iron railings.
The most important spots in the historic centre are Garibaldi’s Column, Zìcavo house, Garibaldi Square and the town hall, the parish church devoted to Saint Mary Magdalene with a small diocesan museum and Umberto I Square. Then if you’ll like to take just a short walk you can wander through the upper town and discover the beauty of the smaller houses as well as spot tiny communal areas and small piazza (squares in English).
Garibaldi’s Column and the Zicavo house
Next to the Banco di Sardegna at the entrance to the small craft marina there was once a pyramid, crowned with a cannonball that Napoleon had fired on the town in 1793. Later it was replaced by Garibaldi‘s Column. This is a 17 metre high granite obelisk donated by the French quarry. The column was erected for the centenary of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s birth and it was financed by king Vittorio Emanuele III, La Maddalena municipality, local traders and others. The column is a work of art by the architect Alfredo Vizzotto. The inaugural speech in front of a large audience was given by a great Sardinian writer, poet and lawyer, Sebastiano Satta from Nuoro.
The first building on the corner at the waterfront, since 1978 seat of the Bank of Sardinia, was Giuseppe Zìcavo’s house. Major-general Zìcavo was born here and he became the port commander in Genoa. The square shaped house was built in the first half of the 19th century and towered above the then beaten earth square as it was built on a high base, as on three of the four sides it was surrounded by the sea. It was connected to the town only by a narrow strip of land. The main entrance was situated on the western side of the building from where it was possible via a staircase to embark.
Let us tell you a peculiarity that might seam far-fetched, but it is true: a ferry boat working the Olbia – Civitavecchia route in the 40’s of the 20th century would prolong its journey with stop in town right here on the left where we see the modern ferry port. The departure from La Maddalena was in the late afternoon. There was also a ferry service Olbia – La Maddalena with a stop at Cannigione, that at those times was the port of Arzachena. The Emerald Coast did not yet exist and the roads were almost non existent.