The island of Sardinia (Sardegna) is a jewel in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. With a population of about 1.650.000 inhabitants, it’s a melting pot of cultures, an open-air museum, and a huge archaeological site.
For the variety of its landscapes, it’s considered a continent. You can run down enormous desert dunes near the sea (Piscinas), and in a few hour drive, you can reach high mountains with snow, conifers, and mouflons.
The capital is Cagliari: a stunning city, located in the far South, with a population of about 150.000 Mostly known for its fortified Medieval Castle, the 13th Century Cathedral and the beautiful weather all year round.
High and low coastlines, for a length of about 1849 km, all around the island hide true paradise like bays and coves, considered some of the most beautiful on planet Earth. White thin sanded beaches, filled with Mediterranean Brush, are constantly shaped by the always present and pleasant winds, that refresh the hot summer days.
Being a faraway island from mainland Italy, it preserved most of its uncontaminated natural environment and, fortunately, it hasn’t been heavily constructed, so different species of animals and plants have found the perfect habitat, contributing to the immense variety of flora and fauna.
The inland of Sardinia is dominated by ancient peaks that reach 1834 m. above sea level. The dominating type of rock in the East side is granite, that creates sculpture-like pieces of art, which are constantly giving you the resemblance of objects and animals, depending on light and shade alternate. A bit like looking at clouds when they pass by on a clear day. Limestone is mostly found on the West Side.
The isolation of Sardinia, especially away from the coastlines, protected by the mountains, lead the local cultures to be preserved and past on by generations, thus being able to develop widely. Also in a genetic aspect, there are some parts of the island that are considered “blue zones”, were people tent to live to 100 years old and over. Another interesting cultural aspect is tied to dialects: they are dozens and variate almost from town to town. This further enriches the variety of cultures.
Sardinia is probably the most culturally distinct of all Italy and, musically, is best known for the Tenore Polyphonic singing, sacred chants and the launeddas, an ancient instrument that consists of a set of three single-reed pipes, all three mouth-blown simultaneously using circular breathing, somewhat like the Scottish bagpipes.
The biggest peculiarity of this island is in its almost 8000 Nuraghes: these are tower-like constructions that date back to the Bronze Age. Only the Egyptian pyramids can be compared with these constructions. Still unsolved how the ancient inhabitants could build such structures, erecting enormous rock monoliths. So today the real purpose of these Nuraghes is yet an object of study.
Road signs are not very widespread. Something you will notice is the constant bullet holes on them, it’s considered a sign of rebellion against society and most of the times also rivalry between closeby towns.
Plan your stop-overs in advance and buy a good map, there’s a lot to see and experience in Sardinia. My suggestion is to take at least 10 days off, rent a car and start driving to places. There are beautiful coastline roads that circle the whole island. Don’t rely on public transportation because you will never get to certain places without a car. Food, traditions, language, environment, changes from North to South, East to West, so be prepared!
If you are looking into places to stay in the island, I suggest you may consult e-domizil: a very well organized website that makes it super easy to rent houses in Sardinia and all over the globe!
One more thing: if you find yourself in a bar, and someone buys you a drink, don’t refuse! It’s considered nearly offensive.