Sardinia

East coast of Sardinia

Looking for travel tips for a trip to Sardinia? The island of Sardinia, with its capital city, Cagliari, might just have the most beautiful beaches in Europe. It's the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea boasting many natural attractions like Parco Nazionale dell'Arcipelago di La Maddalena (La Maddalena). You can also visit Cala Mariolu (Baunei), Cala Goloritze, Capo Testa, La Pelosa Beach, Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda, Villasimius, Capo Caccia, and Pan di Zucchero (Iglesias).

The landscape of the Sardinia region Cala Goloritzé - Travel Tips Sardinia

Why is Sardinia such a special vacation destination?

It's a beloved vacation spot, especially along the famous Costa Smeralda, where many rich and famous people occasionally visit. The island's interior is dry, warm, and rugged, a land of shepherds and farmers; Sardinia hardly sees any rain, boasting 300 sunny days per year. The most well-known cities are Cagliari, Olbia, Oristano, and Alghero. The Su Nuraxi di Barumini are the main Nuraghi (ancient stone structures) you can visit here, constructed around 2000 BC. They're recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ancient Mysteries: Nuraghes in Barumini

Who exactly built over a thousand towers made of giant stones, of which only a fraction has been excavated? The largest of these nuraghes, in Barumini, was discovered in the 1950s, beneath one of the many sharp hills. What will be unearthed next? Will you be there when a newly painted Punic tomb is found, perhaps due to a sinking tractor wheel?

Domus de Janas

Walking in the countryside, one of those small stones on the ground might just be a genuine arrowhead or a piece of obsidian, a razor-sharp shiny black volcanic glass that was once used to scrape skins. Who knew how to work with granite long before the invention of the diamond drill, as seen in the domus de janas, the small caves believed to be once inhabited by 'fairies'? Stepping onto Sardinia means standing on ancient grounds, full of traces of civilizations from long before Christianity.

Barbagia: Proud and Revered

Barbagia

The name Barbagia suggests that the Romans who named the region didn't quite have everything under control... Many traces of a tough life, hard work, even in the high mountains, where the land wasn't often fertile. Symbolic of the people's character is the Sardinian donkey: resilient, brave, and stubborn. Sardinians are respected by all Italians, with their own language and peculiarities. 

Isola Porco

Sardinia's Famous Coast: Pure Nature at its Best

From the 'Italian mainland,' many cross the sea annually to enjoy the coasts, which are the most beautiful in Italy. Swim in the crystal-clear, sometimes emerald-colored water, spectacularly beautiful. Wander the rocky coasts where that one very rare seal lives or overlooking steep stairs descending the cliff, within walking distance from quaint boats delivering the freshest fish to the kitchen. There are miles of long, broad white sandy beaches with sand grains sometimes like quartz, almost semi-precious stones with unique vegetation. Trust in the excellent diving schools and truly international conditions for sailing. Ask Italian cyclists and mountain bikers on the mainland where the best cycling in Italy is, and Sardinia tops the list. Each of the many nature parks rightly has the World Wildlife Fund's protection. Hike in the mountains, and time seems to disappear; so much has happened here, stretching far back into history, and that juniper tree must have been there for a thousand years. 

An Island All Its Own

The Sardinians are rightfully proud of their island. Their authentic warmth is also evident in their exceptional hospitality and unique cuisine, a mix of Italian classics and fresh local dishes, with clear North African influences. Taste in Sardinia more than just Italy: a unique proud dimension.

Atlantis

And then we're suddenly talking about Atlantis. Yes, indeed, Atlantis... The philosopher Plato spoke of an island in the western sea named Atlantis where people lived exceptionally long lives, harvested multiple times a year, a variety of fruits grew, metals lay on the surface, and where 20,000 towers stood.

Is there a second Pompeii in Sardinia?

Just for that reason: there's a good chance Sardinia is that island; it almost has to be. The Atlantis-destroying great wave, a slap from Poseidon, that would have wiped out much of it. You can see it in the landscape, especially now with drones showcasing many inundated complexes. Newspaper headlines about the stunning drone photo exhibition "Sa Unda Manna" (The Great Wave) even asked, ‘is there a second Pompeii right here in Sardinia?’

Mother Goddess, Dea Madre

Sardinia has traditionally been matriarchal, and even now, it still has matrilineal features. The Mother Goddess, 'Dea Madre', who inspired the later Greek Demeter, remains significant. Mention the Dea Madre, and eyes light up with simple, pure love. She is not loudly celebrated, but deeply acknowledged by the Sardinians. There are even several witch museums, female shamans, and powerful women reinforcing the matriarchal culture.

Alongside and together with the feminine is the masculine. For example, the stone 'giant' tombs similar todolmens; they seem to represent the masculine virile bull's horn, yet simultaneously, when viewed from above, you see the feminine crescent moon, or a woman embracing life, conceiving and giving birth again. 

Connecting with Nature in Sardinia

You can also see the heart and soul of Sardinia at the many village festivals centered around local products. Just Google 'sagra + Sardegna', and countless options pop up. In an atmosphere of community bonding, they are celebrations of the land's shared bounty, akin to the pagan carnivals, celebrating the changing seasons and the relationship with nature. There's a good chance that during your vacation, you'll stumble upon a village festival and experience unique cultural interactions.

Casu Marzu

The kitchen of Sardinia

You can find heart and soul of Sardinia at the table, at an agriturismo, for instance. Often they have only a few rooms but primarily a kitchen that prepares and serves food. The mushrooms that their brother picked the day before. The homegrown artichokes. You'll notice they don't just serve anything; 'This is from my neighbour, or, we made this ourselves or got it this morning from my cousin. And this product is made here in this region like this and is also related to event. They love the term 'chilometro zero', zero kilometer, meaning everything is sourced locally. They are very accommodating to vegetarians and vegans, prefer using grains that 'used to be here, were almost lost but we brought them back'. The wine and drinks are often homemade and served with pride. Even the bread and desserts carry symbolism, referencing the spirit world, rituals, life's significant moments, or memories of past lives.

The demons of the Ottana carnival

Blue Zones

And we haven't even touched on why Sardinia is one of the world's 5 Blue Zones, well, certain villages at least. With an extraordinary number of very vital 90- and even 100-year-olds. No, it's not just about the olive oil and the sun and other Mediterranean things. Since 3 of the 5 Blue Zones are far from the sea. It's about lifestyle aspects and dietary choices that are easily translated to our urban Western world. 

Written by travel guide Sam Pitzalis

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