SARDINIA

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Sail over an emerald sea, taking in the sites of distinguishing coves and beaches of snow-white sand, and you’ll find Sardinia. Sardinia is an island of the western Mediterranean Basin that is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and an autonomous region of Italy. The landscape is made up of plains, hills, lush forests, and mountains. Inland, its terrain is mostly hills and mountains, with a group of massifs like the Gennargentu, peaking at Punta La Marmora. Whereas, Sardinia’s coasts are mostly high and rocky, while sandy edgings are more frequent on the southern and western shores.

Sardinia has a particularly mild climate, ideal for tourism all throughout the year. Though the spring and autumn months can be rainy, surrounded by the sea, Sardinia’s climate stays mild in the winters, and breezy and comfortable in the summers.

It is not easy to make a list of all the amazing beauties of Sardinia. If you’re coming to Sardinia it is to enjoy the plethora of natural beauties that this island and its surrounding area have to offer. Places like San Teodoro, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Poltu Quatu, and Baia Sardinia are only some of the charming locations that deserve a visit. Other interesting features of the Sardinian coastline are the number of caves, like Grotta del Fico, Caves of Bue Marino, and the smaller islands surrounding the coast.

Sardinia

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Walking and Trekking Tours: Exploring nature is made easy in Sardinia. There are several co-operative organizations in the inland areas that offer walking excursions for all. Whether you’re looking for a brisk, more challenging walking experience, or slowing down, there is a trek or walk to fit all levels.

Mountain climbing and Skiing: Whether you’re hitting the slopes of Bruncu Spina, with its highest peak of 6,000 feet, or Mount Spada skiing is perfect during the winter months. Or, if you’re interested in an all-year activity, soar to new heights and climb the cliffs of Alghero or Cala Gonone.

Sailing and Water Sports: Witch shades of emerald and blue and a clear view straight to the bottom, dive in and explore the wonders of what lies beneath. Other activities for sea lovers include sailing around Carloforte on a private guided tour, water-skiing, and kite surfing.

Horse riding: One of the most celebrated past-times in Sardinia, horseback riding options are widely available. Practice your cantor, or gallop your way through the countryside in the mountains of Barbagio, the plains of Nurra of Alghero, or Orsitano.

Cooking Class: If you’re looking for an intimate cooking experience, followed by a relaxing day, this is class to check out. Hosted at a winery, this cooking class teaches you how to cook regional Italian recipes, while sipping on the best wines in the cellar. Then, once you’ve finished eating your creation, enjoy the rest of your time sunbathing at the beach club in Cagliari.

PLACES TO VISIT

Cagliari: No vacation in any part of Italy would be complete without taking in some of the historical sites. As the capital of the Sardinia Region, Cagliari is rich in architectural marvels from another time. Here you can see the largest Punic necropolis outside of Carthage, the 1st-2nd century amphitheatre built into the slopes of Buoncammino hill, and the most notable 18TH century Basilica di Bonaria (Church of Lady Bonaria). Additionally, part of the natural allure of Sardinia, there is a botanical garden with a collection of more than 500 species of tropical plants, and a network of lagoons and marshes that offers bird watching year round.

Sassari: The second largest city in Sardinia, Sassari overlooks the Sardinian Sea to the north and west, and borders with the Provinces of Oristano and Nuoro to its south. Under its many rulers since the 12th century, Sassari has a diverse history that has influenced its culture and monuments.  One of the most important monuments in Sassari is the Late Renaissance style fountain Fontana del Rosello, characterized by its statues, one representing each season, and one equestrian, of San Gavino. Also worth seeing are the 13th century Cathedral of St. Nicholas— originally Romanesque, it was later rebuilt as Gothic, but with a Baroque facade. Then, visit the 18th century limestone Palazzo Ducale.

MUST SEES

Thermal Springs: Venture to Sardara (Campidano), just outside Cagliari, where visitors can find the famous spas of the Santa Maria Acquas, located in the wood at the entrance of the town. These springs have been exploited since the Bronze Age, and are known for their healing properties. There are two resorts open year-round, so no matter when you need a little rest and relaxation, these thermal baths have you covered.

Porto Cervo: The main center of Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo is one of the most prestigious seaside tourist areas of Europe. With some of the most expensive resorts in Europe, including Cala di Volpe, Liscia di Vacca, and Baja Sardinia, Porto Cervo is a highly sought after luxury resort destination. Here you can enjoy shopping, especially with the 2013 open of the British shopping icon, Harrod’s, spas, and nightlife with the celebrity-laden club Billionaire, or the intimately chic club, You Porto Cervo.

Costa Smeralda

Costa Smeralda

FOOD SPECIALTIES

Culurgiones: Similar to ravioli, this popular Sardinian dish is made with ogliastra pasta and filled with potatoes, pecorino cheese (sheep’s milk cheese), onion, mint, and garlic.

Seada: A typical Sardinian sweet, Seada is an Italian fritter filled with pecorino cheese and fresh lemon zest. Then it is deep-fried to perfection and topped with honey.

Porcheddu: This savory dish is one of the more popular dishes of inland Sardinia. Porcheddu is a slow-roasted pig that is cooked on a spit over a log fire, or cooked inside a inside a large hole under the fire. For a more rustic touch this dish can be infused with mirto (myrtle) leaves and served on a cork tray.

Pecorino: A symbol of Sardinia throughout the world, pecorino, sometimes called the kind of cheeses, is a crumbly buttery cheese with subtle nutty flavors. This cheese is often used to finish Italian pasta dishes, or if a more stagionato (aged) pecorino, it often the finish of a meal, served with pears and walnuts or drizzled with strong chestnut honey.

Burrida alla Cagliaritana:  Though seafood is a surprisingly newer addition to Sardinian gastronomy, it is not to be missed. Burrida alla Cagliaritana is antipasta of fish served in Cagliari. Its main ingredients are dogfish which is marinated in walnuts, vinegar and spices for 24 hours, and often served with fregola, Sardinian pasta often served with arselle (clams).

Mirto: Made from the indigenous mitro (myrtle) plant, this liqueur is served as a digestive (after dinner drink). Mitro is a heavy, sweet, and herbal liqueur made from the berries and leaves of the plant.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Cavalcata Sarda: Every second last Sunday of May Sassari holds Sardinia’s most important folk music events called Cavalcata Sarda. The show includes a parade of magnificent colored folk costumes, filigree jewelry, floats adorned with flowers, and horses and riders performing in pariglie and daring acrobatics

Sartiglia: On the last Sunday of Carnival, the city of Oristano holds an event that is sure to spark excitement. Sartiglia takes us back to medieval times where participants don their best medieval masks and costumes and saddle up on their flower-adorned horses for a class Spanish jousting tournament.

Citrus Festival of Muravera: Marking the beginning of spring is the Citrus Festival. The Citrus Festival kicks off the tourist season each year, allowing one to take a look at the area’s agricultural heritage, handicrafts, and a costume parade that highlights folk traditions of the area. The festivities are organized every year around the end of March into April.

Is Fassonis Regatta: Every year on the first Sunday in August is the peculiar Is Fassonis Regatta. The pond of Santa Giusta comes alive with boatmen anxiously waiting to race their one-man creations. The small one person boats are made of bulrush and built by hand. During the race the boatmen must stand at all times, similar to gondolas in Venice, and make it to the finish line. This is an exciting event, to be sure, and would not be complete without food. Explore the shores of the pond to find wonderful barbeques of local cuisine and wines.