All About Sardinia
Inhabited since very early pre-historic times - the earliest trace of man on the island goes back to 150,000 years ago -, in the 9th century BC the island was occupied by the Phoenicians, later on by Cartage and, after this city was defeated and destroyed in the Third Punic War, by Rome, and under the Roman Empire enjoyed a remarkable prosperity. Raided by the Vandals in 456 AD, it was later reclaimed by the Eastern Roman Empire. After that, for many centuries Sardinia suffered raids by the Saracens from Spain, Africa and Sicily.
In the 12th century, under the influence of the republic of Pisa, the island was divided into four local districts - Gallura, Logudoro, Arborea, and Caralis - called "Iudicati", each ruled by a iudex, whose power little by little became hereditary. In 1241 the King of Sicily, Swabian Frederick II, appointed his son Enzo, born out of wedlock, king of Sardinia. In 1323, the Kingdom of Aragon began a campaign to conquer Sardinia; the giudicato of Arborea resisted and for a time came to control nearly the entire island, but its last ruler Eleanor of Arborea was eventually defeated in the Battle of Sanluri on June 30, 1409. The population of Alghero was expelled and the city repopulated by the Catalan invaders, whose descendants spoke Catalan till quite recently.
After the merge of the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, Sardinia was incorporated into the newly created national entity, Spain. Sardinians were regularly employed on the royal Spanish fleet and on October 7, 1571, at the Battle of Lepanto, Sardinian mariners led the defeat of the Turkish fleet. On 2 September 1720 Sardinia passed to Vittorio Amedeo II Savoy. That was the beginning of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which in the following century would become the Kingdom of Italy.
Sardinia boasts 1,850 km of coastline, which constitutes one fourth of the total Italian coast.
Most of this shoreline is still wild and un spoilt, with limpid, unpolluted seas, making it a very desirable holiday destination indeed.
The whole of Sardinia enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, characterised by long, hot summers, from the end of April until the end of October, and short mild winters. On average there are about 300 days of sunshine a year and the average temperatures range from between 14° to 22°C.
Sardinia boasts splendid examples of plant life throughout the various zones of the territory, among which broom, cistus, rosemary, lentisk, pine and eucalyptus.
The wet areas are home to pink flamingos, whose numbers have risen over the years because of the ideal conditions Sardinia offers for nesting and breeding.
There are also numerous ducks, bald coots, storks, sultan hens, cormorants and stilt birds.
Among the numerous fascinating mammals to see there are Sardinian deer, moufflon, wild cats, fallow deer,
chamois, hares and the endangered monk Seal.
What to see
Sardinia is divided into four main regions; Sassari, Oristano, Nuoro and Cagliari. The Anghelu Ruju, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Mediterranean, can be found at Sassari. The Anghelu Ruju is a huge area of ancient artificial caves that were used from about 3000 to 1500 BC. Nearby Alghero lies Neptune’s Grotto, an area full of caves. This site can be reached via boat or by bus. There are about 650 steps leading to the caves. Another attraction that lies just outside of Alghero is the museum located in the Sella & Mosca’s vineyards. The museum depicts the history of the Sella & Mosca’s vineyards and displays ancient items that were discovered in the vineyards. The remains of the Roman thermal baths can be seen at Oristana Not far away other lie other archaeological ruins including tombs inside the crypt of St Lussorio’s church. At Nuoro you can visit the Bue Marino grotto, the Grotto of Ispinigoli and take a ride on an old steam train ‘trenino verde’ passing by limestone peaks and beautiful scenery. One of the more popular regions is Cagliari which has a large natural park, the Parco dei sette Fradelli that has been protected since 1886. The ruins of the roman amphitheatre and the ruins of Nora are also located at Cagliari. Cagliari is however most well know for its beautiful beaches, including the Poetto Beach with its turquoise waters and the Calamosca Beach which is only a short distance away from the city.
There is an airport and port in Olbia. Industries including cork, granite, and food exist in Olbia and Tempio, and tourism in the Costa Smeralda area and in La Maddalena island. Olbia (locally "Terranoa" in the Sardinian language), is located in northeastern Sardinia, in the Gallura sub-region. It is the economic centre of this part of the island (commercial centres, food industry) and is very close to the famous Costa Smeralda tourist area. It has recently become the administrative capital (together with Tempio Pausania) of the new province of "Olbia-Tempio". It is the main connection between Sardinia and the Italian peninsula, with an airport, a passenger port, a railway to Porto Torres and Cagliari, an expressway to Nuoro and Cagliari (SS131) and national roads to Sassari (SS199-E840), Tempio Pausania (SS127), and Palau (SS125).
La Maddalena is a town and an island, part of the La Maddalena group off the northeastern shore of Sardinia, between Corsica and Sardinia. La Maddalena is full of beautiful beaches, such as Cala Francese and Basa Trinita', as well as rocky terrain and ancient fortifications. The local dialect, called isulanu, is a transition between Corsican and gallurese, influenced also by the Genoese dialect. The economy relies mostly on tourism and the U.S. Naval base housed on the island. The main method of traveling to La Maddalena is by boat from Palau, Sardinia.
Santa Teresa Gallura
This town is well known for the astounding beauty of the surrounding landscape, with small bays under granite cliffs, crystalline water and white sandy beaches. It rises on a promontory only 11 miles from Corsica, and the Maddalena island group is also within sight in the distance. Beautiful "cale" (small beaches in secluded bays) such as Capotesta, la Marmorata and Cala Spinosa.The Nuragic giants tomb at Lu Brandali and La Testa. Archeological sites of the Nuragic period, especially near Capotesta. 28th of April, Sa Die de sa Sardigna a traditional festival of the Sardinian people.
Costa Smeralda is in the north east of Sardinia and has some of the best beaches in the world. Here there are several shops, restaurants and cafes to while away the day. In the evening take a stroll to the yacht club and you can see some of the yachts owned by the very rich. The archipelago of Della Maddalena is a superb area for snorkelling. Nature lovers will not want to miss the dunes of Pistis at Torre die Corsari and the limestone cliffs at Iglesient.
On Sardinia's north-eastern coast, Costa Smeralda offers breathtaking views,
crystal-clear water, great food and night-life. Take a walk along Porto Cervo's streets,
shop in fancy boutiques or just sunbathe on one of the beautiful beaches.
During the 60s, billions of dollars turned 2,800 hectares of beautiful and untouched land (the Mola Mountains) into one of the finest vacation areas in the world: Costa Smeralda (the Emerald Coast).
Costa Smeralda is located on the north-eastern coast of Sardinia, in the Gallura area. It basically follows the panoramic road from Cugnana to Baia Sardinia. The coast morphology is called "a rias" and offers endless coves, headlands, inlets, islands and cliffs.
Although great efforts have been made to increase tourism, this area is still fascinating and charming, due to the fact that its natural beauty has not been destroyed.
Costa Smeralda is famous for its pure emerald green sea, its granite rocks shaped by the wind and sea over the millennia, its wonderful small beaches and luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation.
The "Roccia dell'Orso" (Bear Rock) - Palau
Leave Palau, on the road to the port, move East, after 5 km you reach a nice headland, the "roccia dell'Orso": it was mentioned by Tolomeo, it is large granite natural monument, shaped like a bear looking towards the sea.
Agriturismi - Farms
Stazzi are today used as agriturismo and are ideal for those who love nature, traditions and good food.
There are two we suggest: "Il Muto di Gallura" and "L'Agnata", the famous agriturismo owned by Fabrizio De André, in Tempio Pausania.
Vermentino di Gallura
White wine, very good served cold, ideal with fish, one of the best products of Sardinian oenology. The first wine to obtain the "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" and the "Denominazione Garantita". Straw-coloured, dry, it is good with seafood, but can also be served cold as an aperitif.
Typical Logudoro and Gallura sweets.
They consist of a flour pastry, kneaded with lard, with a sinuous shape, filled with honey, almonds, nuts and sapa. They were once prepared on important occasions.
"Sa suppa cuatta"
Typical Gallura soup: it is made with bran-bread soaked in sheep broth, covered with fresh pecorino cheese and tomato sauce, all cooked in the oven.
Gallura on the train
The route connect different towns, from Gallura to Anglona (another Sassari region).
You will discover the unique Gallura landscape.
The Petrified Forest in Carucana (Martis)
If you decide to take the train, stop in Martis; there are the remains of an ancient forest, dating to the Miocene, on the bottom of a lake.
Garibaldi's Museum in Caprera
The home, the land and tomb of the National Hero.
The island of Caprera, connected to La Maddalena by means of a long bridge, houses the Museo Garibaldino. The buildings, including the famous "Casa Bianca" (White House), are set in a beautiful natural environment and were a home to Giuseppe Garibaldi from 1854 to 1882, when he died.
The Maddalena Archipelago
A marine paradise near Corsica.
The Arcipelago of La Maddalena is located along the north-western coast of the island.
It consists of two main islands, La Maddalena e Caprera, and five smaller ones, Razzoli, Budelli, Santa Maria, Spargi and Santo Stefano, plus many small reefs and islands to discover. It is a nature reserve.
The Romanesque Church of San Simplicio in Olbia
A medieval jewel.
A nice grey granite building dating from the XI-XIII century; it was built in three separate phases. Its façade is divided into three parts by pilasters and it has a tower bell which was built later on. There are some small Romanesque arches along the sides and on the apse, resting on pilasters. Inside, the three naves are separated by arches with columns and pilasters.
Sports and leisure
With a beautiful coastline featuring crystal clear waters rising to lofty mountains in the centre of the island, Sardinia offers endless opportunity to enjoy all kinds of outdoor leisure activities including water sports, hiking and trekking.
Sailing is probably the most favoured pastime in Sardinia owing to the gorgeous waters and numerous ports around the island; small catamarans are available for day trips. Diving is also very popular in Sardinia and there are dive centres in Porto Pollo and Palau, while windsurfing is also taken to extreme. Beginner’s courses and private lessons are available for sailing, diving and windsurfing. Kite surfing is practiced in Sardinia, which is a cross between kiting, surfing, windsurfing and water skiing and schools can be found island-wide.
Trekking and horseback riding
There are some fantastic tracks all over Sardinia, where people of any age can go for a walk and enjoy the scenery. Trails are well marked and visitors can choose from many popular coastal walks to heady mountain treks in the Nuoro area (central Sardinia). The best time for trekking in Sardinia is in the spring, when the heat is less powerful and the flowers are in-bloom. Those into horseback riding will also find many companies offering half-day trail rides and sunset rides.
People have been climbing in Sardinia for years and there are some amazing climbs to be had here owing to the limestone rocks and the spectacular views. Free-climbing (no ropes) is also practiced on the island and there are several quality schools offering training and excursions.
Other sports and leisure activities available to visitors include speleology (cave exploration), golfing and biking. There are some fine golf courses here and rates for visitors are fairly reasonable.
Pevero Golf Club
Beautiful green designed in 1972 by Robert Trent Jones, one of the most famous architects.
Eighteen holes, 6175 m, par 72, wide green, 90 sand bunkers. Surrounded by granite rocks and Mediterranean plants.
Archaeology In Sardinia
Sardinia is an enormous open-air museum.
The whole territory is dominated by the presence of numerous Nuraghi.
About 7000 of these stone structures were built in Sardinia over a long period which spanned a number of centuries, with its peak between 1200 and 900 BC.
Many of the Nuragic sites offer guided tours, such as Losa in the Province of Oristano, the Nuraghi of Barumini and Villanovaforru in the Province of Cagliari, the Nuraghe of Sant' Antine in the Provincia of Sassari and the Arrubiu Nuraghe in the Province of Nuoro.
Another characteristic of the Nuragic civilisation are the burial chambers known as the "Tombe dei giganti" (Giants' Tombs).
The Sardinian countryside abounds
in traces of ancient cultures, some of which date back to before the Nuragic civilisation. The most characteristic monuments are the Menhirs, the Dolmens and the "Domus de Janas" (Fairy Houses), which can be traced back to the period between 3200 and 2480 BC.
Fascinating evidence also remains of the
period of Phoenician-Punic domination, among the most important sites, we recommend visits to:
the Roman Amphitheatre in Cagliari, the Phoenician-Punic city of Sulci at Sant'Antioco, the ancient city of Nora at Pula, the ancient city of Tharros at Cabras, the Traiani forum at Fordongianus, the Roman city of Turris-Ly bissonis at Portotorres, the Roman villa of Porto Conte and the Roman Port of Fertilia at Alghero.
Sardinia enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and a mild and humid cold season. Generally, the farther north you go, the more rainfall there is likely going to be, particularly in the northwest of the island, while the southern region is much dryer. Year-round temperatures are mild and average between 15°C and 20°C.
The weather in spring and summer in Sardinia is hot and dry, with winds coming in from northern Africa. Temperatures are far more comfortable in the springtime, whereas summer temperatures hover around 30°C and 35°C, and are sometimes as high as 40°C in July and August.
The winter cold season features mild winds from the northwest and average temperatures of 10°C around the coastline and as low as 0°C in the mountains. The cold season months of November and December also see the year’s highest rainfall, while snowfall in the mountains during this time of year is common.
There are three options for getting about in Sardinia: by car, train and by bus. Traveling by car gives the most freedom and is the fastest option, yet train travel is also good despite being a bit slower, and the rail network covers most of the island. The tourist train, known as the Trenino Verde, covers the whole island and is perhaps the best way to travel for solo travellers. Buses also cover Sardinia, but are not as favourable as train travel, as many changes may be needed in order to reach your destination
Food And Wine
The mild climate, the limestone terrain, the sea air and the wind contribute to make wines which are considered among the best in the world, noted for their fragrance, strength and smoothness.
Wine making is an ancient tradition on the island and modern technology has been skillfully combined with the wisdom of generations of wine makers to produce prestigious wines for all palates and dishes.
The fragrances and the colours blend together to reflect the un spoilt nature of this land and its people.
Among the most important wines, we recommend: Cannonau, Carignano del Sulcis, Monica, Nuragus, Vermentino, Malvasia and Vernaccia.
Sardinian cuisine is exquisite in its simplicity, made from genuine ingredients and essential flavours, which can be divided into two distinct periods:
ancient Sardinian cuisine, essentially based on products from the land, characterised by roasted meats (wild animals, game and suckling pigs), bread, cheese, cold meats and honey.
More recent Sardinian cuisine, essentially based on fish, characterised by a vast selection of fresh fish and seafood, including the most prestigious fish dishes.
Every region in Sardinia has its own fish specialties and even those visitors with the most demanding palates will be spoilt for choice.
The insularity of Sardinia has meant that the island's unique characteristics and ancient traditions have been preserved through the centuries and today remain almost uncontaminated. Sardinian handicraft boasts ancient roots and the beauty of the objects produced for everyday use lies in their simplicity and the individual personality of a handmade work of art.
Ceramics, rugs and tapestries, knives, baskets and precious jewellery are just a few of the products which best characterise Sardinian handicraft.
The rugs, blankets, shawls, tapestries, curtains, woollen or fine linen cushion covers are all hand made on enormous oak looms and are characterised by classical motifs inherited from Byzantine art.
They are dyed with natural colours made from infusions of herbs, berries, roots, but also minerals and different types of soil with colouring properties.
Weaving represents an important tradition on the island and the magnificent baskets are the expression of the artisans' creativity and skill, which have been passed down from one generation to the next over the centuries.
The raw materials used by the basket weavers include reeds, asphodel and palm leaves, willow and lentisk trees, as well as straw.
Carpentry has always been a very important handicraft in Sardinia and the island is particularly renowned for its production of beautifully carved, wooden chests, made from chestnut, durmast or walnut trees.
The unique, wooden masks of the "Mamuthones" and of the "Merdules" (traditional figures from Sardinia's ancient past) are particularly interesting and can be admired at the Carnival of Mamoiada e Ottana.
Getting to Sardinia
The three main airports at Sardinia are located in Cagliari, Olbia and Alghero. These airports handle both domestic and international flights from major European cities. Passengers travelling from Asia or North America will have to get connecting flights from Rome, Naples or Milan. Bus and taxi services serve all three airports. The cheapest and probably the most convenient way of getting to the island of Sardinia is by ferry. Sardinia has four main ports situated in Cagliari, Olbia, Porto Torres and Arbatax. Several ferry companies operate services between many domestic ports and also international ports to the island’s ports. There are slow, fast, overnight and also ferry car services travelling between Palermo, Naples and Civitavecchia to Cagliari. There are also services from Genoa to Olbia and Porto Torres. Once in Sardinia it is recommended that you hire a car or motorbike to explore the beautiful island.
Getting to the Costa Smeralda
from Cagliari: SS 125 as far as Olbia. After 6 km turn towards Costa Smeralda
from Cagliari: SS 131 as far as Codrongianus, then take the SS 597 and the SS 199 towards Olbia.
from Olbia: SS 125 towards Palau. After 6 km turn towards Costa Smeralda.
from Porto Torres: SS 131 as far as Codrongianus; from there take the SS 597 and then the SS 199 towards Olbia.
from Alghero: SS 127 bis as far as Sassari, then the SS 131 as far as Codrongianus; from there take the SS 597 and then the SS 199 to Olbia.
By Bus (ARST - Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti)
Info and timetable
ARST - Cagliari: Tel 0704098222; 0704098324; free number 800865042
Tickets can be bought on board but are cheaper if you buy them before.
Roads of Eastern Sardinia
- a panoramic road
- drive in the daylight to enjoy the view.
- it is a very winding road. It can be a difficult journey if you have young children.
SS 131, SS 597 and SS 199
- fast and easy to drive. In the summer it is better not to travel during the hottest hours.
Genova > Porto Torres
Genova > Olbia
Civitavecchia > Olbia
Livorno > Olbia
Genova > Olbia
Corsica Ferries www.corsicaferries.com
Civitavecchia > Golfo Aranci
Livorno > Golfo Aranci
Bonifacio > S.Teresa
Olbia - Cagliari - Porto Torres - Arbatax - Golfo Aranci
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