• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Hands off! School kids try to buy paradise island for Italy
A group of Italian school children want to buy the paradise isle of Budelli. Photo: Luca Giudicatti

Hands off! School kids try to buy paradise island for Italy

The Local · 19 Feb 2016, 16:07

Published: 19 Feb 2016 16:07 GMT+01:00

It’s a plan which, if their counterparts across the whole of Italy go along with it, would not only give Italian children their own paradise to hang out in, but would save the government €3 million.

Children from the middle school in Mosso, a small town in the Alpine province of Biella, have started a crowdfunding campaign to buy the uninhabited Budelli, part of the idyllic Maddalena archipelago which lies between Sardinia and Corsica, La Stampa reported.

They say that if every Italian child pitches in €0.50 then they could club together to buy the island, which they would name ‘isola dei ragazzi’ (the children’s island).

The savvy youngsters have already managed to pool €75 between the town’s 1,500 residents.

“It seems small, but it’s a first step,” they said.

“The message we want to convey is this: if all Italian school pupils donate €0.50 each we could raise the €3 million needed to win the next auction, which means this piece of heritage won’t fall into the hands of a stranger.”

The island, famous for its pink sandy beach and considered the most beautiful in the Mediterranean, was almost taken over by Michael Harte, a banker from New Zealand who paid €2.94 million when it was put up for auction in 2013.

The children campaigning to buy Budelli. Photo: ‘Non si s-Budelli l’Italia’ Facebook page.

Harte, said to have been in love with the archipelago for years, had carefully drawn up conservation plans to ensure its ecosystem was protected.

But needless to say, his offer drew protest by local politicians, who appealed to the government to bring the paradise, whose previous owner had gone bankrupt, back under state control.

A court in Sardinia overturned a ruling allowing the sale in 2014, and the government then passed a law that enabled the state to buy it back.

The government reimbursed Harte but he successfully appealed, and in October last year Italy’s National Park Authority was told to hand the island back to him, while giving him 60 days to pay his original offer price.

But according to a report in La Nuova Sardegna on Saturday, Harte has since renounced his dream.

The newspaper cited a letter from his lawyer, Luca Montella, who said that the uncertainty surrounding the island’s classification as a reserve, coupled with persistent opposition, forced the entrepreneur to walk away.

Story continues below…

Photo: Who wouldn't want this? Photo: Christopher Sammer

The idea for the school campaign came about on Monday, when a teacher asked the pupils to read the news in La Stampa’s Sunday issue for discussion as opposed to a book.

They picked up on the story about Budelli, prompting a conversation about its rich history and what fate might befall it.

“We read about the businessman trying to buy it and at the point we thought ‘we could make the dream of maintaining it in public hands a reality’,” student Francesca Grillo told La Stampa.

The group quickly formed a group and set about doing the calculations, before taking the campaign, called ‘Non si s-Budelli l’Italia’ to social media.

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.it)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Migrant crossings to Italy - what do we know?
A report this month said there were around 800,000 migrants in Libya waiting to attempt the journey across the Mediterranean. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

With 13,000 people rescued in one week and hundreds presumed drowned, what do we know about migrant flows across the Mediterranean to Italy?

Italian gran drives wrong way along motorway...for 7km
The 80-year-old was heading home after going for pizza in Alghero, Sardinia. Photo: Cost of Living/Flickr

The 80-year-old was returning home – in pouring rain - to Sassari after spending the evening with friends at a pizzeria in Alghero, Sardinia, but took the wrong direction on the SS 291.

Video
Severe storms and flash floods wreak havoc in Milan
Severe storms caused flash floods in Milan on Monday. Photo: YouReporter

A hospital accident and emergency unit was flooded, while the River Lambro burst its banks.

Rome risks rubbish pile-up as binmen strike
An overflowing bin in front of the Pantheon, Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Rome residents fear a national rubbish collection strike will cause the city's waste problems to spiral out of control.

Quiz
Quiz: Silvio Berlusconi versus Donald Trump - who said it?
Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi have much in common: Photos: Ethan Miller/AFP (L) and Tiziana Fabi/AFP (R)

With their perma-tans, riches and love of women, Donald Trump and Italy’s three-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi are strikingly similar.

Ex-boyfriend of Rome student found burning to death probed
Prosecutors in Rome have opened a murder investigation. Photo: The Local

The student's burning body was found by her mother in the early hours of Sunday.

Italy hunts for more foreign directors in museum shake-up
A new director is wanted for the Roman ruins at Ostia Antica, among other sites. Photo: Sergio e Gabriella trentanni/Flickr

Do you fancy overseeing one of Italy's top cultural sites?

Migrant who survived boat wreck drowns in Italian lake
The migrant died after diving into Lake Sirio in Piedmont. Photo: Ilaria Coradazzi

A 24-year-old from the Ivory Coast who survived a shipwreck in the Mediterranean has drowned in a lake in northern Italy.

Dozens of kids die as boat tragedies claim up to 700 lives
A bout of good weather as summer arrives has kicked off a fresh stream of boats attempting to make the perilous crossing from Libya to Italy. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

A week of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean culminated on Sunday with 700 migrants feared dead and survivors giving harrowing testimony of dozens of small children drowned.

Dozens missing in fresh migrant shipwreck: rescuers
Dozens more migrants are reported missing after a fishing boat sank on Friday. Photo: AFP

The Italian coastguard is searching for survivors after an overloaded fishing boat sank off the coast of Libya.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
Crew who sunk with WWII sub 'wanted to be found': relative
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Why the average ancient Roman worker was dead by 30
Did a Nazi official save Ponte Vecchio from destruction?
National
How the brutal murder of an anti-mafia hero altered Sicily
Travel
These are the best beaches within easy reach of Rome
National
Why Italians are falling out of love with the EU
Business & Money
Foreign, female and a self-made success in arduous Italy
National
How Italy's richest region is feeling the migrant strain
Culture
Rome mulls 'metro museum' after new line unearths ruin
National
Why Italy's facing a birth rate apocalypse
National
Why talk of barriers is opening up old wounds in South Tyrol
Culture
Huge Roman villa found under Amalfi church set to open
Travel
Two men kicked off plane in what captain calls 'racist act'
Meet the expats making a career out of Italian food
Society
'Staying single is why I'm the world's oldest person'
Travel
Where can you find the best beaches in Italy?
The ultimate guide to the insanity of driving in Italy
Travel
Eight of Rome's most tantalizing foreign food gems
Migrant arrivals in Italy top 30,000 for 2016: navy
Italy’s deadliest earthquakes over the last 100 years
Travel
US passports now need six months validity for Italy
Travel
Six incredible ways Italy profoundly changed my life
2,526
jobs available