Instead of jetting off to Spain or Portugal this year, why not try the Med’s somewhat forgotten island, Sardinia, and sample a culture as passionate as it is beautiful. Sardinian legend tells that once God had finished creating the earth, he scattered all the left-over pieces into the Mediterranean Sea and stepped on them, thus creating a heavenly island touched directly by God. Whilst magical folklore like this is enough to entice anyone to visit, there are more, very worthwhile, reasons to take a trip to this European paradise.
Rich, fascinating history
Previous to Sardinia belonging to Italy, the island was under Spanish rule until 1720. However, despite now being “officially Italian”, there is a tangible Catalonian feel to most parts of the island, especially inshore in ancient towns such as Alghero. Architecture which is unmistakably Spanish and street signs in both Italian and Catalan belie centuries of Aragon rule, and merely hint at the captivating heritage waiting to be discovered by the history-hungry, intrepid traveller.
As close to North Africa and the French island of Corsica as it is to Italy, Sardinia is anything but “typically Italian”. Despite the island’s strong African influences, the Sardinian culture is not diluted, rather it is enriched in a way that sets it apart from the mainland and affords it a culture that is as absorbing as it is vivid. Fiercely independent, Sardis cling tightly to their unique Sardo language and press to be recognised as a distinct ethnic group, separate from il Continente- the Italian mainland.
Holiday in Sardinia this year and enjoy picturesque Romanesque churches, beautiful tile mosaics, awe-inspiring medieval castles and moreish fine wines, all typifying traditional Italian culture. However, alongside these traditional Italian hallmarks waits an undiscovered and unscripted liberated spirit, unidentifiable in any other Mediterranean island.
Lying 178km from the nearest mainland, it is fair to say that Sardinia is a true Mediterranean cast-away. This isolation has preserved a unique regional cuisine which is distinctly “Sardinian”. Sardinian food should neither be confused with, nor labeled as, “regional Italian”; Sardi’s are as firm about this point as they are about their independent-from-Italy cultural identity.
If you are thinking about holidaying in Sardinia this year, make sure you pack your appetite! “Music sheet” bread, saffron hinted dumplings, dogfish marinated in walnut vinaigrette, suckling pig wrapped in aromatic leaves and, of course, indigenous to the island, pecorino cheese and myrtle liqueur are but a few of the mouth-watering delights waiting for you to sample.
If a historical, fact-finding holiday isn’t for you, and you would prefer to chill-out instead then don’t worry, Sardinia is still the destination for you! In fact, many who visit Sardinia each year find it almost impossible to move away from the 2000km of breathtaking beauty which is the Sardinian coastline.
The well-heeled wayfarer may sashay their way to the Costa Smeralda, splashing out on a lavish, luxury resort which is anything but easy-going on the purse strings. Alternatively, the more modest vacationer can enjoy the unspoiled beaches of Golfo Aranci or perhaps partake in a spot of snorkeling at Cala Morescu, both found in the north east of the island.