On the occasion of Fare Cinema 2021, the Italian Cultural Institute of Tunis presents the documentary ‘Il mare che unisce. L’epopea dei Tabarchini‘ (The sea that unites. The epic of the Tabarchini) on its Facebook page.
Tabarka, a town in north-western Tunisia of ancient Phoenician origin, today almost on the border with Algeria, is perhaps the place in Tunisia that has the strongest ties with Italy. In 1167 the then Bey of Tunis, Abdallah Bockoras, ceded ownership of the overlooking island, which is now joined to the mainland, to the Pisans, who kept it until the mid-sixteenth century, with the exclusive privilege of exploiting what was the greatest local resource at the time: the coral. In 1542 the same island was given in concession by Khair ed-Din Barbarossa (probably as a ransom for his ally Dragut) to the Genoese Lomellini family (from the circle of Andrea Doria and related to the Grimaldis), who were also interested in coral. The Lomellini family colonized Tabarka with a group of inhabitants of Pegli, a district of Genoa, whose presence in Tabarka lasted about two centuries.
In 1738, due to the depletion of the coral reefs and the deterioration of relations with local populations, a large group of Tabarkini moved to Sardinia, to the island of San Pietro, where they founded a new municipality, Carloforte, named after Carlo Emanuele III of Savoy, who had favoured the settlement. Three years later, the Bey of Tunis invaded the island and enslaved its inhabitants. The latter, once they were released, went either back to Carloforte, or to Calasetta on the island of Sant’Antioco (also in Sardinia) or to the island of San Pablo near Alicante, Spain, where they founded Nueva Tabarca. Unlike the latter, the Tabarkini of Carloforte and Calasetta have kept their cultural identity intact: the dialect of these two localities, so-called Tabarchino, is a Ligurian-type idiom in a linguistically Sardinian territory.
The stories of this community constitute a dossier presented by Tunisia to UNESCO for recognition as an intangible cultural heritage and supported by Italy and Spain. Upon completion, the documentary will be presented by the Italian Cultural Institute of Tunis at the end of 2021.
To find out more, go to iictunisi.esteri.it