There is something different about Carloforte, something that even first-time visitors feel when they embark on the ferry that will carry them to the island, that tells them they are entering a very special “world”. Those who already know something about the history and anthropological facts that characterize the town and the community will also feel this sense of anticipation, that they are going somewhere very special.
The first thing that immediately catches the attention of the traveler is the accent of the islanders. Ancient and particular, you will not hear it spoken anywhere but here and the neighboring town of Calasetta. This archaic language was in use among the Pegliesi settlers of the sixteenth century, who were ancestors of the people of Carloforte. The language has some Arabic influence, also some influence from the Sicilian and French languages, confirming the self-evident concept that each language is also the result of historical and demographic events of its speakers. It’s important to remember that Carloforte was founded by a group of Pegliesi settlers who had settled on the Tunisian island of Tabarca in 1540 for coral fishing and from there, almost two centuries later, transmigrated to San Pietro Island. This is why "Carlofortino" (inhabitant of Carloforte) is synonymous with “Tabarchino”.
The beauty of the Tabarchina language comes not only from the fact that is an ancient language with many influences, but that it is spoken by everyone, regardless of age and social class. This can be observed by the tourist on board the ferry, by listening to the voices of the many islanders who daily travel to the mainland on the ferryboat.
The sense of entering a different world grows when the traveler moves to the deck of the ship during docking maneuvers and gets his first glimpse of the town: a long, tree-lined marina, which calls to mind the cities of the Ligurian Riviera.
This first impression is reinforced as visitors disembark and begin to explore the town. The style of the houses, the architectural details of the façades, the characteristic features of the alleyways, called caruggi like the ones that can be found in Liguria, are all charming. Venturing into the "upper town" between staircases and balconies, the configuration of the streets changes and with them the style of the town, a surprising and unique blend of Arabic and Mediterranean architecture that delights the eye.
These first impressions of Carloforte’s Tabarkina culture are unforgettable. But they can only be enhanced by the cuisine and the diversity of flavors that the island has to offer. Among other things, Carloforte is a food paradise. Here you can try and appreciate many delicious and unusual dishes ranging from tuna cooked in a thousand ways with a thousand sauces, Arabic cascà (couscous), the fainè (chickpeas pancakes) and the pasta alla Genovese (Genoese Pasta) with tuna and pesto sauce.
This is Carloforte, or rather, the Carloforte that you see immediately: a language, a cuisine, a town that is diverse and picturesque and that together create a unique picture. But this is not all Carloforte is. If these are the most evident impressions that capture the imagination of visitors, there are other extremely interesting anthropological aspects of the culture that a curious visitor will want to learn about the history and society of the Carlofortinan people.
Perhaps nowhere else will you find a community like the Tabarchina’s that has such pride in its traditions:seamanship, shipbuilding, tuna fishing, but also the coral and lobster fishing, salt harvesting, wine production, all occupations that have provided lasting economic advantages and generated a series of exceptional and unusual traditional aspects.
To all this, it has to be added that in spite of its short life (the city was founded 276 years ago) Carloforte has a fascinating history, rich in events that have frequently and rightfully contributed to our national history. The island also contains incomparable natural beauties as unique as its cultural aspects. These things and more have made Carloforte an island with a vibrant culture.
"Carloforte and Culture" may seem just a slogan, but it is a true and almost inseparable combination. Seeing is believing.
Link to Article - SAN PIETRO, ISLAND OF RICH CULTURE