• 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
Pope wants to visit quake-hit villages
’I hope to come and see you,’ the pope said. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto /AFP

Pope Francis said Sunday he wanted to visit some of the central Italian villages devastated in this week's earthquake, as survivors and rescue workers dug in for the long haul with winter approaching.

Why quake-hit Amatrice will never be the same again
Amatrice had been due to host its Amatriciana pasta festival this weekend. Photo: Angela Giuffrida

The Lazio town of Amatrice was the hardist-hit by Wednesday's devastating earthquake. The Local's Angela Giuffrida visited what is left of the town on Friday.

Italian flags at half mast for quake victims
More than 280 people were killed in the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck on August 24. Photo: Andreas Solaro /AFP

Flags flew at half mast across Italy on Saturday as the country observed a day of mourning for the victims of an earthquake that killed nearly 300 people.

Italy earthquake
Italy prepares to mourn earthquake dead
Collapsed buildings in Amatrice. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

No survivors have been found since Thursday.

Italy earthquake
Rescuers search for 15 still missing in Amatrice
A suitcase in the rubble of a collapsed home in Amatrice. Photo: Angela Giuffrida/The Local

A team of specialist rescue workers from Shanghai is searching for 15 people unaccounted for in Amatrice, the Lazio town torn apart by Wednesday's devastating earthquake.

Italy earthquake
Italy’s museums offer takings to restore quake-hit region
A damaged church in Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Italy's museums will donate all money raised from ticket sales on Sunday to help restore cultural treasures damaged or destroyed by Wednesday’s 6.0 magnitude in central Italy.

Italy earthquake
Food the only comfort for Italy’s earthquake survivors
A refugee dines at a makeshift camp in central Italy. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

"Because even in these dire cases it's important to give a good meal to those who have lost everything."

Italy earthquake
In pics: Makeshift shelters house Italy's quake survivors
An earthquake victim beds down at a makeshift shelter in Amatrice. Photo: Marco Zepatella/AFP

An estimated 2,500 people have lost their homes following the 6.0 magnitude earthquake which hit central Italy on Wednesday.

Italy earthquake
Strong aftershock rattles devastated Amatrice
An aftershock measuring 4.8 struck Amatrice again on Friday morning. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The small town of Amatrice was hit by another aftershock, measuring 4.8 in magnitude, on Friday morning, causing more damage in the centre of the town where at least 193 were killed in Wednesday’s devastating earthquake.

Italy earthquake
Three Britons among dead in Italy earthquake
Rescuers continued their search for bodies on Friday morning. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

At least eight foreigners, including three Britons, a Spanish national, a Canadian and a citizen from El Salvador, were among the 250 people killed when a powerful earthquake struck central Italy this week, officials said, as rescuers continued the grim search for corpses on Friday.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
2,495
jobs available