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Dolphin Island Is The Mediterranean's Most Private Paradise, But Now Everyone Can Take A Look Around


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Nope, this isn't something out of your Lisa Frank notebook childhood dreams. It really is a dolphin shaped island in the middle of the clean, clear blue seas. It's the Mediterranean's most private island paradise.


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Li Galli, sometimes called Le Sirenuse, is a natural archipelago off Italy's Amalfi Coast between Capri and Positano. Its natural beauty and whimsical shape have brought guests like Greta Garbo, Princess Margharet of England, Ingrid Bergman, Sofia Loren and Jacqueline Kennedy. 


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During the 1920s, Russian ballet dancer and Ballet Russes choreographer Leonide Massine bought the uninhabited island after spotting it from a trip to Positano.


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He converted the watchtower on the island's Roman ruins to a living space and dance studio. Sadly, it was destroyed in a storm and there are no known surviving photos of the space. (However, there is a film clip of Leonide Massine giving a tour of Li Galli.)


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The villa was deserted after Messine's death in 1979 until another Russian dancer, Rudolf Nureyev bought it in 1988.


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Nureyev had planned to open a ballet school on the island but only five years after buying it, tragically died of AIDS. 


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During his time on the island, he left his legacy in restoring Messine's villa in a beautiful Moorish style in 19th Century Seville tiles.


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Not only are Nureyev's Moorish rooms still standing but they've been cleaned and restored by a five-star hotelier, Giovanni Russo.


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Russo spend the next 15 years and €28 million restoring Li Galli, opening it up to the public (for the likes of Liz Taylor and several of her husbands), complete with boat tours, swimming spaces and the kind of relaxation only the Mediterranean can provide.


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However, the future of Li Galli is in limbo as the island villa has been on and off the market for years. Its last public listing was for $268 million in 2011.


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The island's largest villa, now called Villa Giovanni, comes with a stone tower, 13 bedrooms, a helipad, boat storage, three swimming pools and a pair of 30-foot boats. It's currently being rented out by Bellini Travel to be used as a seasonal vacation rental.


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The island grows its own fresh vegetables and fruits. And there's plenty of seafood to be found off the coast of the island.


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In tribute to La Galli's strong ballet history, Russo hosts dance companies to perform in the restored Roman watchtower where Massine once built his open air theater space.


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The villa's interior has a stone fireplace, a library, La Cornue stove in the kitchen and a wrap-around stone terrace with sea views from every room.


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There's a salt water pool behind the ancient tower.


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And a helipad. You know, for when you need to run an errand.


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Up on the hill is a small white chapel built into the coastal rocks.


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It's mainly used for weddings and comes with a simple altar, piano and a pathway of stone steps that lead to the ocean.


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The honeymoon suite next door is unbelievably airy and gorgeous.


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You can see the island of Isca through Li Galli's rocks. It's considered part of the archipelago but was separately owned by Eduardo De Filippo, the Neopolitan playwright. Today, it's been inherited by his son.


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Turquoise grottos sparkle along the rocks, some of the best diving spots in Italy.


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In Greek mythology, the island was inhabited by mermaids. It's where the sirens seduced Ulysses in Homer's Odyssey. And with the island's shape and magical views, it's easy to see why.


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Credit: Messy Nessy Chic 

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