Here is my quick guide to Sardinia. An Italian island full of natural beauty, amazing beaches, glorious sunshine, superb food and unspoilt nature.
My bride and I decided to travel to Sardinia for our honeymoon. Whilst we both love Italy, neither of us had been to the island lying off the west coast just south of Corsica.
Sardinia is rich in a diverse history and ownership of the land has changed hands many times throughout the centuries. There is little doubt now that the place is full of Italian charm and character.
History, geography and economy of Sardinia
Over the years the beaches of Sardinia have been subject to the arrival/invasion or conquer from the Phoenicians, Romans, Genoans, Pisans, Arabs, Spanish and the House of Savoy. Most have left their mark by way of architecture or traditions and festivals which are still practised today. This is even though it is predominantly a Catholic population.
The island of Sardinia became part of the new nation of Italy formed in 1848. There is still some language mix present on the island, bedded deep in the history of Latin. Catalan can be heard in some parts of the west particularly Alghero reflecting the history of Spanish rule.
Today, the island of Sardinia is a wonderful holiday spot. With a slower pace of life, friendly and warm residents, stunning Sardinian beaches, wonderful food and a low crime rate.
Once riddled with malaria the use of pesticides in the 1950s seemed to successfully eradicate this plague. Now the only main health issue you will have to worry about is sunburn.
Economically Sardinia has had stages of prosperity through agriculture, shepherding, mining and now modern day tourism.
The Italian island is rich with nature. Stunning landscapes with a mountainous interior. The Gennargentu National Park hosts the highest peak, La Marmora, at 1,834m or 6,017 ft.
Historic sites are easily found with old churches and ancient tombs as well as the castle of Burgos. There is the ancient Phoenician city of Tharros whilst Alghero on the west is full of Spanish character and architecture.
Provinces of Sardinia
The capital of Sardinia is Cagliari lying in the south of the Italian island with a population of about 1.7m people. Cagliari is home to one of three commercial airports on the island, the other two lying in the north with Alghero on the west and Olbia on the east side.
The 8 provinces of Sardinia established in 2005 are Cagliari, Carbonia-Iglesias, Medio-Campidano, Oristano, Ogliastra, Nuoro, Olbia-Tempio and Sassari.
Some of these provinces can be explored with the highly recommended 5 hour train ride during the summer on the Mandas-Arbatax train. However be prepared for an overnight stay as there is no return trip on the same day.
Sardinian beaches are some of the most stunning in all of Europe. As we explored for 2 weeks we kept stumbling upon more and more stunning beaches. To the north and north east of the island is where many of them lay.
You have the Sardinian Sea to the west of the island and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the east. At the north east of the island you have the affluent holiday area of the Costa Smeralda. With stunning scenery, exclusive resorts and the most luxurious of yachts on display, it is a real highlight.
We were in awe at the presence of islands off the east coast of Olbia and Golfo Arancia. The Isola Tavolara (the smallest kingdom in the world) really took our breath away from any angle.
Whilst the people of Sardinia are of a rich and diverse heritage they are proud to show where they belong. Streets are often adorned with the flag of Sardinia. This red and white cloth is the Four Moors Coat of Arms which is of Catalan origin. It first appeared on the island in 1323 following the arrival of Alfonso of Aragon.
Whilst we stayed in Sardinia for two weeks it was a real holiday to remember. Which of course a honeymoon should be.
As Brits abroad we really wanted to get away from the over commercialised tourist areas. Not be surrounded by fellow Brits who wanted to drink English beer in the sun and sit in make up Irish bars watching British TV. We wanted to be away from lager louts and chavs who tend to give the British holidaymaker a bad name. In Sardinia we found this. Other than the plane journey we did not see or hear another British person until 2 days before we came home. We even shared this observation with the Brits we met. Their response was that they thought it was great too and asked for us to keep it as our little secret. (Oops!)
Hopefully from my brief guide to Sardinia you will have noticed that Sardinia is an authentic Italian holiday. Genuine locals in a place of beauty and culture. Friendly welcomes, difficulty with trying to understand the language and buying, eating and living like the locals.
We love Sardinia and hope to be back very soon.