Island of Mal di Ventre

The island of Mal di Ventre has a surface of 0.80 km and has a flat aspect, with the maximum altitude of just 18 m a.s.l. There is a spring water pool which allows the survival of some species of small mammals, reptiles and birds. During the Second World War, the bombers dropped several bombs on the island, creating several craters, some of which filled with rainwater during the winter season. Its geological origin is very ancient and dates back to the late Carboniferous; The outcrop of the island is part of a granite complex, largely submerged, which extends from south to north in front of the coast of the Sinis Peninsula and represents the only paleozoic formation in the area. The geological formations of Sinis, in fact, have more recent origins, as they consist of the outcrop of limestone deposits and Andesitic lavas from the Miocene and basaltic lavas and limestone sandstone deposits from the Pliocene. The east coast that turns to Sardinia is mostly sandy, with some small coves that facilitate the landing. The western coast, on the other hand, is relatively high and rocky and does not offer safe landings as it is exposed to the mistral wind, which blows particularly intensely in this part of the island. The seabed around the island is rocky.


The vegetation is represented by the low Mediterranean maquis consisting of essences such as mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), cistus, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and dwarf palm (Chamaerops humilis) as well as low herbs. The bushes are sculpted and shaped by the constant action of the mistral wind.


According to the explorer Alberto La Marmora, monk seals (Monachus monachus) were once present. Among the only mammals present on the island are: wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and small white mice (Mus musculus) or house mouse. The avifauna is instead represented by different species of seabirds among which the cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), the greater berta (Calonectris diomedea), the smaller berta (Puffinus puffinus), the herring gull (Larus michahellis), the Corsican gull ( Ichthyaetus audouinii) and the Queen’s falcon (Falco eleonorae). Common reptiles on the island are tortoises.


The human history of this ancient island dates back to the Neolithic period (6000/2700 BC) when hunting was practiced on the island, perhaps connected to the Capo Mannu peninsula. In fact, numerous fragments and pieces of obsidian arrowhead as well as fragments of millstones from the Nuragic era have been found. Among other things, on this island, just to the side of the shepherds’ cove, there is the presence of a bilobed nuraghe, partly collapsed into the sea. Human attendance was consolidated first in the Phoenician-Punic era and later in the Roman era, as it appears from the numerous housing testimonies found on the island. In particular, we note the presence of a very large Roman villa (perhaps the seat of a nobleman exiled from Rome in the 1st or 2nd century AD). This testimony is endorsed not only by General Alberto della Marmora but also by Canon Giovanni Spano who spoke on several occasions on the island. To tell the truth, even today, just behind the hut called the fishermen, it is possible to see hundreds of boulders interspersed with pieces of embryos and coccia belonging to artefacts of various ages and functions among the shrubs of Lentischio and Fillirea.

The island was frequented since the Neolithic period. The numerous arrowheads and obsidian scrapers found on the island attest to this. In this historical period the island must have been much larger and much closer to Mari Ermi which is about 5 miles away. Furthermore, Malu Entu is the only smaller island in Sardinia where there is a bilobed nuraghe with a small keep, already taken over by Atzori in the 1960s and by Copparoni in the 1990s which also reported the presence of some wells, one of which with perennial spring water located in the central-southern part of the island. Another peculiarity of this mysterious island is the presence of a large Roman house built between the 1st and 2nd century AD. of which also the canon Giovanni Spano and General Alberto Ferrero della Marmora wrote, who both signaled this imposing construction also equipped with pools and a fountain with water. From some reports received and collected by the recently deceased scholar Marco Porcu, it appears likely that there was also a small monastic settlement on the island, as well as some wall traces with apsidal development found in the south-eastern part of the island, today covered by the luxuriant Lentischio vegetation.

Another aspect of great interest are the numerous wrecks of boats of various eras that are located on the seabed around the island and which have only been studied in part.

The Island of Mal di Ventre came to the headlines especially during the trial for the alleged “separatist conspiracy” which took place in the early eighties of the twentieth century, which would have involved several activists of Sardinian independence movements and which, according to some reconstructions, it was a machination of the Italian secret services to discredit the Sardinian wind then arisen; according to the accusation, the island was chosen as the place from which the insurgents communicated the birth of the Socialist Republic of Sardinia to the world through powerful radio-amateur devices.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported, in August 2008, the news of the initiative of a Sardinian independentist that aims at the international recognition of the island of Mal di Ventre, as “Independent Republic of Malu Entu”, referring to the principles of self-determination of peoples enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Salvatore Meloni, protagonist of other historic battles for the independence of Sardinia, proceeded to send the project both to the United Nations and its members and to the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Salvatore Meloni, who for more than twenty years has spent most of his days on the island together with other independentists, in February 2009 filed a civil lawsuit for the usucapion of the island of Mal di Ventre which, since 1972, belongs to the Neapolitan company “Turistica Cabras srl”; in addition, Meloni has requested the Municipality of Cabras to register on the island to strengthen his initiative. Meloni also had banknotes printed with his face, the “Soddus Sardos”.

In January 2009, after 5 months from the date of self-proclamation of the Republic, a blitz by the Forestry and Environmental Supervisory Body and the Harbor Master’s Office cleared the independence activists. The latter were accused, among other things, of damaging the environment and of illegally disposing of the waste produced during their stay on the island. Later, Salvatore Meloni, although dismissed, returned to the island, before his imprisonment following a conviction for tax fraud.