In an age of Photoshop and earthworks, like the artificially constructed land developments in Dubai, you’d probably be forgiven for thinking that this dolphin-shaped island, too, was a “fake.”
But you’d be mistaken.
This remarkable island’s shape is the result of nature’s work, and nothing else.
The island is in fact a part of a small cluster of jutting rocks, known as the Sirenusas or the Gallos. Being the largest of the group, “Dolphin Island” is known as Gallo Lungo.
Don’t for a minute think that its unique shape is all that Gallo Lungo has to offer though. The fascinating history that the island boasts is, in itself, equally as thrilling as the shape it forms.
The name Sirenusas comes from the Italian word “sirene” and denotes the mythical sirens as told in the Greek classic “The Odyssey” by Homer. The sirens were half woman and half bird, and their enchanting songs would lure sailors in toward their island to crash upon the rocks. “Gallos” denotes the bird half, and comes from the Italian word for rooster.
Throughout history, the island has seen many architectural changes. It once boasted a monastery, and later a prison. In the 13th century, a watchtower was added to help protect the mainland from marauding pirates.
It finally became part of Positano in the 19th century, when Italy was unified as a country. The interesting facts don’t end there though.
The town itself eventually sold the island to a private buyer. Departures write that in 1922 it ended up in the hands of Leonide Massine, a Russian dance choreographer. It became his private residence after a villa was constructed. He even decided to add a dance studio in the old watchtower.
On Massine’s death, it was sold to one of the most proclaimed, and famous, ballet dancers of all, the Russian Rudolf Nureyev. He had defected to the West in 1961, and spent the final years of his life, between 1988 and 1993, living on the island.
According to My Modern Met, the island did eventually return to Italian hands in 1996 when property developer Giovanni Russo purchased it. As well as his primary residency, the estate is often hired out to some exclusive, and moreover lucky, clientele.
Viewing Gallo Lungo from above is the best way to observe the dolphin-like form that nature has given it. It truly is a remarkable sight to behold. However, you should also look past its appearance and delve deeper into its history, because this island has so much more to offer than just a pretty shape.
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