Carloforte is a fishing and resort town of located on Isola di San Pietro (Saint Peter’s Island), approximately 7 kilometres (4 miles) off the southwestern coast.
Carloforte was founded in the 18th century by some 30 families of coral fishers, originally from Pegli, near Genoa, Liguria. They had left their hometown in 1541 and had settled on the island of Tabarka, off the coast of Tunisia, to fish for coral. After centuries, the coral in that area was exhausted and so the families set off back to Italy and found there was plenty of coral in the sea off the west coast of Sardinia. They asked the King of Sardinia Charles Emmanuel III for permission to settle on San Pietro Island, at that time not inhabited. When he granted them permission, the island was colonised.
Modern-day Carloforte’s principal sources of revenue are fishing, tourism, and remittances from the many merchant mariners around the world who hail from Carloforte.
Carloforte, boasting several beaches, both rocky and sandy, is a summer tourist destination. On the other side of the island from Carloforte is a functioning lighthouse (Capo Sandalo Lighthouse, now automated), locally known simply as Il Faro and whose structure dates back to the 1880s.
Carloforte boasts a long-standing tradition of wooden boatbuilding. Locally built traditional lateen sail fishing boats (luggers) can be spotted in the harbour.
To the north of the town (at the La Punta locale) is a collection of buildings that housed the former communally owned tuna processing plant linked to the once-vibrant tuna fishing “tonnare” industry on the island. Some of the buildings have undergone renovation to some extent and now contain windsurfing school and a new, privately owned tuna processing business. Some of the buildings are still in ruins but remain of great architectural interest.