Emerald sea and sandy beaches
With nearly 2,000km of coastline, sandy beaches and mountains without high peaks, its interior is crossed with hiking trails and a rugged landscape dotted with thousands of nuraghi–mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives. One of the largest and oldest nuraghi is Su Nuraxi in Barumini, dating back to 1500 B.C.
The Nuragic complexes are unique monuments built using great blocks of stone and developed around a central cone-shaped tower that communicates strength and power. The Barumini complex in the Province of Cagliari, is among the sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Sardinia has an ancient geo-formation and, unlike Sicily and mainland Italy, is not earthquake-prone. Its rocks date back to the Paleozoic Era (up to 500 millions years ago) To the west of Sardinia is the Sea of Sardinia, a unit of the Mediterranean Sea, and to the east is the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The emerald sea reigns with colours that migrate into the coves, along the coasts, towards the finest and whitest beaches and the most popular resorts. The maquis, a scrubland vegetation of the Mediterranean region, is perfumed and provides a contrast to the many blues of the sky and water.
The Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) with Porto Cervo, its gem, perfectly combines the history and culture of ancient traditions with a vibrant and colourful nightlife. Porto Cervo was named after its enchanting cove that resembles the antlers of a deer. The Old Port is considered the best-equipped touristic port in the Mediterranean Sea. Porto Rotondo, overlooking the wide Gulf of Cugnana, with its stunning beaches, land and seascapes, is a destination for luxury sunseekers. Piazzetta San Marco, in the heart of the village has many boutiques and bars.
A sailboat Vento di Sardegna (Wind of Sardinia) sponsored by the Autonomous Region of Sardinia. Its skipper, Andrea Mura, won the Single-Handed Trans-Atlantic Race in 2013, the Two Handed Transatlantic Race (Twostar) regatta in 2012 and the Route du Rhum.
Porto Pollo bay, north of Palau, is divided by a thin tongue of land that separates it into areas for advanced and beginner/intermediate windsurfers. Because of the Venturi effect between Sardinia and Corsica, western wind accelerates between the islands,creating the perfect conditions for this sport.
Over 600,000 hectares of Sardinian territory is environmentally preserved (about 25% of the island’s territory).
The island has three national parks Asinara National Park, Arcipelago di La Maddalena National Park, and Gennargentu National Park.
Gennargentu is the vastest mountain range in Sardinia; with a very peculiar landscape. This region is rich in flora and fauna, with its mouflons, golden eagles, Sardinian deer and several other species, now all sadly threatened with extinction.
The cork oak forests which grow naturally in the area produce about 80% of Italian cork.
The cork district, in the northern part of the Gallura region, around Calangianus and Tempio Pausania, is composed of 130 companies. Every year in Sardinia 200,000 quintals (20,000 tonnes) of cork are carved, and 40% of the end product is exported.
Home to nearly 4 million sheep, Sardinia produces a wide variety of cheese, and half of the sheep milk produced in Italy is produced in Sardinia. Sardinia also produces most of the pecorino romano, a non-original product of the island.
Boasting a centuries-old tradition of horse breeding since the Aragonese domination, whose cavalry drew from equine heritage of the island to strengthen their own army or to make a gift to the other sovereigns of Europe. The island boasts the highest number of horse herds in Italy.
Meat, dairy products, grains and vegetables constitute the most basic elements of the traditional diet of the area, and to a lesser extent rock lobster (aligusta), scampi, bottarga (butàriga), squid and tuna.
Suckling pig (porcheddu) and wild boar (sirbone) are roasted on the spit or boiled in stews of beans and vegetables, and thickened with bread. Herbs such as mint and myrtle are also used to add flavour. Most Sardinian breads are made dry, which keeps longer than high-moisture breads. Baked as well iscoccoi pintau, a highly decorative bread, and pistoccu, made with flour and water only, originally meant for herders, but often served at home with tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and strong cheese accompaniment. Traditional cheeses include pecorino sardo, pecorino romano, casizolu, ricotta and the casu marzu (notable for containing live insect larvae).
One of the breads most famous for its crunchiness is pane carasau. Originally the making of this bread was a hard process which required three women to do the job. This flat bread is always made by hand as it gives a different flavour the more you work the dough. After working the dough, it is rolled out into very thin circles and placed in an extremely hot stone oven, where the dough blows up into a ball. Once the dough reaches this state, it is removed from the oven, where it is cut into two thin sheets and stacked to go back into the oven.
Sardinia boasts the highest consumption of beer per capita in Italy (twice as high as the national average). Birra Ichnusa is the most commercialised beer. Besides beer, accompany your meals with excellent wines, such as Vermentino di Gallura, Cannonau, Malvasia, Vernaccia and Vermentino. Various liquors like Abbardente, Filu Ferru and Mirto (Myrtle liqueur) are delicious as well.
Sardinian food satisfies even the most demanding palate with its simple,natural ingredients, and delicious recipes made with only the finest local products. The main ingredient in the area is wheat, used to make the famous pane carasau, but also the well-known malloreddus, culurgiones and fregola.
In terms of fish, the lobster of Alghero, the bottarga of Cabras and Carloforte tuna fish are excellent and exclusive fish dishes in the area. Also be sure to try the clam soup and spaghetti with sea urchins. You cannot leave the island without tasting the savory porceddu, a grilled suckling pig which is served on cork trays and covered in myrtle branches.
Sausages and cheeses are some of the tastiest local products, and Sardinian pecorino is certainly the most renowned.
“A voyage over an emerald sea, past characteristic coves and beaches of snow white sand… this is Sardinia, an island that strikes its visitors with natural contrasts, the lights and colors of a region that boasts old traditions and a wild and pure nature” ~ italia.it.