TAVOLARA: WORLD’S SMALLEST KINGDOM
a look at the legendary island
TAVOLARA – WORLD’S SMALLEST KINGDOM
How did Tavolara become the World’s Smallest Kingdom? Well, it’s a story about a man marrying two sisters, goats with golden teeth, and the decision of Queen Victoria to have a gallery with the portrait of all royal families in the world.
In 1806 Giuseppe Bertoleoni left Genoa in a hurry to escape being processed for bigamy. He’s described as “half shepherd, half pirate” in the book Tavolara, Island of the Kings by Ernesto Geremia. He first moved to the Isle of Santa Maria in the Archipelago of La Maddalena. Looking for better land in 1807 he arrived at Tavolara, famous for being a pirate’s hideout. The island, however, was uninhabited except for some goats.
GOATS WITH GOLDEN TEETH
Legend has it, Tavolara was home to goats with teeth made of pure gold. As Giuseppe found out, the yellowish colour of their teeth was due to some herbs they liked to eat. Nevertheless, the rumour was so widespread that even the King of Sardinia Charles Albert heard of it. In 1836 he insisted to visit Tavolara and hunt there. Giuseppe sent his son Paolo to meet the visitor and to the presentation of Charles Albert “I am the King of Sardinia” he famously replied, “Well, I am the King of Tavolara”.
A KING’S VISIT GONE WELL
Charles Albert after three days of hunting and eating was so much enjoying his host that on departure he conceded “Paolo, you really are the King of Tavolara”. The King even signed an official paper recognising Bertoleoni’s status.
QUEEN VICTORIA’S PHOTOGRAPH
A couple of decades later Britain’s Queen Victoria would collect photographs of the leaders of the world at that time. In 1896 she sent her personal photographer on board of the Vulcan to Tavolara. Carlo, Paolo’s son, was photographed there with his family.
WORLD’S SMALLEST KINGDOM
As the Bertoleoni recall, the picture taken was then brought to Buckingham Palace. There, it was displayed in a golden frame with the caption “The Royal Family of Tavolara, in the Gulf of Terranova Pausania, world’s smallest kingdom”.