And is the envy of pretty much everyone.

By Marisa Spyker
August 24, 2018
Luca Picciau/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images

When Mauro Morandi first settled on the island of Budelli in 1989, he did so with the intention of disconnecting.

“The first few years I was very standoffish,” Morandi recalled to CNN earlier this year. “I did not want to communicate with anyone who came to see the pink beach, and I enjoyed all this beauty alone.”

Then Morandi started taking pictures—ones capturing a gorgeous sunset over a distant mountain, the pristine turquoise of the surrounding sea, or a storm rolling in over the island’s famous rose-colored beach, La Spiagga Rosa. And when his private Italian island (located just off Sardinia) was turned into a National Park in 2016—and subsequently supplied with WiFi—he found a home for those breathtaking landscape shots on social media.

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Now Morandi, Budelli’s caretaker and sole resident for 30 years, is an Instagram star, with more than 17,000 followers (not to mention 5,000 friends on Facebook) who keep coming back to perhaps live a little vicariously through the once-reclusive island dweller.

"In the summer, the days are exclusively dedicated to communicating with tourists, who now come more than anything else to meet the 'madman' who lives alone on an island," he says.

On Budelli, daytrippers stop over to explore the untouched shorelines and see La Spiagga Rosa from afar (the pink-sand beach has been cordoned off due to erosion since the ‘90s). These days, Morandi greets visitors, gives tours of the island, and talks about the importance of protecting it. In the mornings, he tends to his social media pages.

Through his newfound public platform, Morandi hopes to both share the beauty of his private paradise as well as inspire others to care for all of nature’s treasures. 

"I am very satisfied with my visibility, because I think it can help to appreciate the beauty [and] therefore the respect and protection of nature," he says.