Sardinia (Porto Torres, Alghero, Cagliari) - Regions of Italy

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Focus: Porto Torres, Alghero, Cagliari

Jacki Christopher for

Located just under the French island of Corsica, and to the west of the Italian mainland, the island of Sardinia is a Mediterranean paradise averaging 300 days of sunshine per year. Whether your idea of a perfect vacation entails sunbathing, trekking, sailing, culinary experimentation, local festivals, or exploration of ancient ruins, you will find more than enough to occupy your days there.

It has been said that Sardinia’s islands are best explored by boat. Many of the hotels and resorts offer boat excursions, but you’ll swing a better price by going right down to the port and asking around. The beaches and coastlines are there for the taking—travelers need little instruction on how to enjoy them. At all hours of day you’ll find Italians enjoying the sand and the surf—don’t hesitate to join in the fun.

Mystical and mysterious caves, ancient structures, and ruins dot the Sardinian landscape. Most notable among them are located in the south of the island around the town of Cagliari. The ancient nuraghi structures dating back to the 2nd century BC are an exceptional piece of unique Sardinian history and not to be missed. Su Nuraxi di Barumini is the prime complex of these structures and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arranging public transportation to the site is a chore—the area is best reached and explored by car.

Though you are likely to face larger crowds, a trip to Sardinia at the end of August places you in a position to enjoy the annual international Regata della vela Latina. The sailing festival brings traditional sailing boats from all of Italy to the area of Porto Torres and the Sea of Stintino. In a few days you’ll witness vestiges of the centuries-old maritime customs and traditions. The Regata is an unforgettable experience—make your plans in advance and then get ready to take it in. Traveler’s tip: start your Italian adventure at the Regata in Sardinia and then continue your travels throughout Italy into the month of September when tourist levels begin to drop and the weather is more favorable for travel.

For a Sardinian experience to delight the senses, plan a trip to the Azienda Agricola Leda' d'Ittiri in Alghero. You’ll tour the vineyard and olive groves, learning about these two key agricultural products and their vital relation to Italian culture and history. Following the tour you’ll have the opportunity to pair and sample cheeses, wines, and olive oils. If you know that you are looking for less tourism and less beach during your time in Sardinia, book your accommodations right at the vineyard and spend each day enjoying the fruits and flavors of the countryside.

The coastlines and beaches are majestic and alluring and you could easily spend all of your time there, but to get a more authentic feel for Sardinia, push inward away from the pricey resorts and tourist attractions to the interior of this unique island. To enhance your experience of the interior, pack a copy of D.H. Lawrence’s Sea and Sardinia, inspired by his time there. Ozieri and Pattada make good excursion destinations.

The cuisine of Sardinia offers a lively balance of surf and turf, with hearty meats as typical of the Sardinian cuisine as the fruits of the sea. Holding to its ancient roots and influences, Sardinian cuisine is an eclectic blend of the old and the new, the Italian and the foreign. Roast suckling pig, or porceddu, is an island favorite, as is wild boar and other game meats.

The climate and fertile land is especially favorable for produce—Sardinia is the country’s top producer of organic agricultural products. Abundant fruits and vegetables are woven into the dishes and a wide variety of fresh herbs and spices add unexpected taste sensations to the eating experience. Their prized goat and sheep’s milk cheeses are not to be overlooked.

As you roam throughout Sardinia, you’ll find as many varieties and shapes of bread as there are villages and bakeries—sweet and savory included. Try to find some of the more unique creations like the cozzula or the carta de musica. Vermentino di Gallura is the signature Sardinian white wine, with Cannonau and Monica being the choice reds.

Sardinia can be reached by plane or ferry. Several ferry companies run trips from Genova, Rome, Tuscany and various points in France. Flights arrive at airports in the cities of Alghero, Olbia, Arbatax, and Cagliari. Within Sardinia, you can tour the region by public coach bus or various small train lines, however given the often unreliable and/or limited bus and train schedules, traveling Sardinia by rental car is preferred.

Cala Gonone - a small boat takes you to the long path that makes it possible to explore this grotto - Credit - De Agostini Picture Library

Cala Gonone - a small boat takes you to the long path that makes it possible to explore this grotto.

Credit: De Agostini Picture Library

couple dressed in traditional sardinian costume - Credit - Foto ESIT

Couple dressed in traditional sardinian costume.

Credit: Foto ESIT

Sardinia - the interior of a nuraghe, mysterious prehistoric stone constructions that have symbolized the region since time immemorial - Credit - De Agostini Picture Library

Sardinia - the interior of a nuraghe, mysterious prehistoric stone constructions that have symbolized the region since time immemorial.

Credit: De Agostini Picture Library

Sardinian handicraft - Credit - Foto ESIT

Sardinian handicraft.

Credit: Foto ESIT

Sardinian horseback riding - Credit - Foto ESIT

Sardinian horseback riding.

Credit: Foto ESIT

Top 3 Surnames from Sardinia

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Abruzzo Aosta Valley Apulia Basilicata Calabria Campania Emilia Romagna Friuli-Venezia Giulia Lazio Liguria Lombardy / Lombardia Marche Molise Piedmont / Piemonte Sardinia / Sardegna Sicily Trentino Alto Adige Tuscany / Toscana Umbria Veneto