Carloforte (U Pàize in Ligurian, literally: the village, the town) is a fishing and resort town of located on Isola di San Pietro (Saint Peter’s Island), approximately 7 kilometres (4 miles) off the southwestern coast of Sardinia, Italy.
Carloforte was founded in the 18th century by some 30 families of coral fishers, originally from Pegli, near Genoa, Liguria. They had left their home town in 1541, and had settled in the island of Tabarka, off the coast of Tunisia, to fish for coral. After centuries, the coral in that area was exhausted and so the families set off back to Italy and found there was plenty of coral in the sea off the west coast of Sardinia. They asked the King of Sardinia Charles Emmanuel III for permission to settle on San Pietro Island, at that time not inhabited. When he granted them permission, the island was colonized (1739); the name Carloforte (Charles the Strong, but also the Fort of Carlo) was given to the town they established there, in honour of the king. To this day Carloforte maintains strong cultural ties with the towns of Pegli and Genoa. The population still speaks a variant of Ligurian language called tabarchìn (or tabarchino, in Italian), completely different from Italian and Sardinian, is used even by most children and taught in the schools of the island.
The very early history of the town – and of San Pietro Island – may be linked to the so-called Children’s Crusade of 1212. A local church (Chiesa dei Novelli Innocenti) whose foundations date back to the early 14th century was apparently built in honour of hundreds of children-crusaders who may have perished in a shipwreck just off the island on their way to North Africa during a gale. In truth, historical evidence of this event, well documented in literature, is actually scant in site, (except the remainder), and would need to be researched further. The church is called Chiesa dei Novelli Innocenti and is located within the town perimeter, is not currently used as a church (only one time in the year), but are considered a monument; it was the only evident remainder of building found at the time of colonization in 1739.