The lonely island of Tavolara rises wildly from the sea like a jagged mountain. There are no roads or hotels, and the only inhabitable stretch is a white-sand tongue that’s best measured from end to end in steps.
The Kingdom of Tavolara is currently celebrating its 180th anniversary and actually predates Italy by 25 years.
These days, the King called Tonino when he’s not fishing or gardening outside his bungalow is running a restaurant. His majesty lords over Tavolara’s 11 part-time residents, 100 nimble mountain goats and a few species of endangered falcons that live atop the island’s 565m limestone peak.
For the past 40 years, Tonino has been personally escorting visitors to his family’s island palace – first by rowboat, and now via a 25-minute ferry that he operates from Porto San Paolo.
While collecting photographs of world leaders, Queen Victoria commissioned a British naval vessel to stop by the island so that officers could photograph Tavolara’s “royal family”.
For years, the gold-framed photo was displayed in Buckingham Palace with the caption “World’s Smallest Kingdom”.
Here are quick facts about small kingdoms worldwide.