A natural paradise, with culture in spades
Thinking of my beautiful island in the centre of the Mediterranean, I’m unable to hide a smile and my heart is instantly there. I see a journey sailing in an emerald sea, between small and large inlets of the whitest sand. Sardinia amazes the visitor’s eye for its natural contrasts, lights, and colours. This is an island of ancient traditions surrounded by wild and unspoiled nature. A country in its own right, because we are Sardinian first, then Italian. The Kingdom of Sardinia, which included Sardinia, Piedmont, and surrounding minor regions, predates Italy and its rulers (the Savoy Family) became in fact rulers of a unified Italy in 1861.
The territory is predominantly mountainous, with central high peaks and hills all around. It’s a unique natural environment, harsh and very gentle at the same time. Extremely rich in flora and fauna biodiversity, it also has a high rate of endemism. In some areas mankind is almost a rare presence; vast surfaces have remained magically untouched, inhabited by deer, wild horses, and large birds of prey. Rich of small desert areas, ponds, and luxuriant woods with trees even thousands of years old.
However, for me, Sardinia is where the sea reigns supreme. With its dazzling colours it creeps into the winding coves along the 1900 km coastline of stunning beaches. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by so much natural beauty. I can fairly say I spent my childhood on a beach in Costa Smeralda having spaghetti with clams and bottarga, a true speciality. In the years, moving to other cities and living in other countries I still feel like an instant deep nostalgia as the sea is far away.
For those who prefer the mountains to the sea, you can discover the Mount Gennargentu massif, the largest mountain complex in Sardinia. I personally climbed its peak Punta La Marmora (1,834 m) only last Summer! Ah, because you must know that as Sardinians we also take all these wonders for granted and it happens that we take the time to discover only when our foreign friends come to visit, so we can proudly show them around. Classic! The Gennargentu region has a pictorial scenario where nature occupies a prominent place. You will easily find mouflons, golden eagles, Sardinian deer, and various species now on the verge of extinction.
For history lovers, Sardinia offers the Nuragic complexes scattered throughout the territory, these are monuments unique in the world that testify to an ancient and still partly mysterious civilization that lived here from the XV to the VI century BC.
The Nuraghi - built with large blocks of stone - developed around a central tower in the shape of a truncated cone to convey a feeling of solidity and power. These archaeological sites still preserve signs of ancient rituals and domestic life with an archaic charm. Among many, the Barumini complex is on the UNESCO world heritage list.
To spot the idyllic Spiaggia Rosa (pink sand beach) get on a sailing boat and head to the archipelago of La Maddalena. This too, with its 7 major islands, is a Unesco World Heritage Site (declared in 1994). My friends and I sail here every summer for an entire day of fun, octopus panini, and prosecco toasts. We visit small beaches and coves that can only be reached by boat. Its clear waters are a testament to the most pristine seabed in the Mediterranean Sea.
Are you into art? Don’t miss the politically charged graffiti in Orgosolo. This small village in the inland is another example of Sardinian contrasts, in this case between strong ancient traditions and modern activism.
This island has given me so much and year after year I still discover new places, stories, and legends. You should know that all Italians dream of a holiday in Sardinia. Many of them have been visiting for decades and now the island feels like home.
Stay en garde! It takes a second to catch feelings for this natural paradise and its charming culture.
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