Rome, Oct 6: The island of Budelli off the northern coast of Italy’s Sardinia was sold to a New Zealander businessman for 2.9 million euros, media reported Saturday.
The tiny islet of around 1.6 sq km was auctioned off to the highest bidder after its Milan-based owner, a real estate company, went bankrupt, Xinhua reported citing Rai state television.
Media reports said that cash-strapped Italian government was not able to raise the funding but may enforce the right of first refusal within 90 days, after which the island will be officially sold.
The island, part of La Maddalena Archipelago National Park, is nowadays protected by strict landscape, environmental and hydro-geological restrictions.
“The first words of the new owner (Michal Harte), who is described as an environmental philanthropist, hopefully confirm the security levels of this operation,” the park’s president, Giuseppe Bonanno, was quoted as saying.
“The safeguard regulations govern this territory and we will check his real purposes, making clear that there are Italian and European environmentally protective restrictions.”
A media campaign, however, has called on the environment minister to save the heritage for the Italian people.
Sardinian regional president Ugo Cappellacci said the island is a priceless treasure that should return to being part of a public property.
“An island should be never put on sale. This is a piece of news of the past century that we would not like to hear again,” he was quoted as saying by media.
One of a group of uninhabited islands originally populated in the 13th century by monastic hermits, Budelli is covered with rich Mediterranean vegetation and is home to a variety of wildlife.
The Pink Beach on the island’s southeastern side is well-known in the world for the pink colour of its sand because of microscopic fragments of corals and shells.
Budelli’s only existing buildings are the caretaker’s house, a postwar military structure, a small timber yard, the ruins of a cabin and a dry stone wall along the beach.