Essential information when visiting Sardinia

Safety, Language, Money, Opening Times & Accommodation Tax

Is Sardinia safe for tourists?

Sardinia is incredibly safe for tourists. Sardinians are initially reserved, but once they get to know you and little, they are very kind, and welcoming people. The coastal areas are more used to tourists than the inland regions.

The Language of Sardinia 

Italian is the first language of Sardinia, although the rich Sardinian language, Sardo is still widely spoken by 78% of the population. 

If you are traveling to Sardinia, you may want to learn a few Italian phrases to be polite, although many Sardinia’s will speak English.

The services in cities and tourist areas will have English speaking staff.

Visas and Passports

European Union (EU) residents and visitors from the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia need no visa for a stay of up to three months.

Information concerning permits can be obtained at your nearest Italian consulate.

Non-EU citizens must carry a valid passport, while EU citizens can travel on a national ID card. We advise you to check the travel requirement before going to Sardinia.

Opening Hours in Sardinia

Museums and archaeological sites are usually open every day except Monday.

In winter some sites may close in the afternoon and hours in the summer are extended into the late evening.

Shops are open from 8-9 am until 1 pm and then from 4-5 pm until 7-8 pm.

The shops are closed on Sundays.

Banks are usually open from 8:30 am – 1:30 pm and 3 pm – 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday.

Banks are closed at the weekend and during public holidays.

Admission Prices

Entrance fees for Museums, archaeological sites and galleries vary between €2 to €12.

Sponsored exhibitions are often free of charge, and most local government galleries offer free entrance or a reduced fee to under-18s, senior citizens and students.

Money

The euro € is the common currency of the European Union.

 ATMs are called Bancomat in Italy and can usually be found wherever there is a bank. The cost for cash withdrawals is set by your bank.

ATMs can run out of cash at weekends and during holidays.

Accommodation Tax

In some regions of Sardinia, there is an accommodation tax.

We understand that it begins on 1st June 2019 and is operational until 30th September 2019.

This would be €2 per person per night in 4 & 5-star hotel, €1.50 for 3-star hotel and accommodation and €1 for 2 or 1-star hotels

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Why should you visit Sardinia?

Sardinia is one of the most overlooked holiday destinations in Europe. The Italian island nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean is a perfect holiday location. There are idyllic beaches, elegant coastal towns, ancient ruins, rich culture, luxurious resorts, and vast untouched nature. 

Why you should visit sardinia
There are over 7,000 ancient Nuraghi throughout Sardinia

A timeless atmosphere

It would have been to easy to have begun my reasoning with the pristine beaches that adorn this island. I want to instead start with the atmosphere on this island, as it is like no other place. Nature, history, culture, and people come together to create a magical, timeless atmosphere across the island.

The island is full of mystery, and the landscape is embedded with ancient ruins, sacred sites, upon a rugged countryside. Much of Sardinia is wild, including mountain ranges, nature reserves, and expansive coastline.

The ancient ruins invite travelers to trace the past of this island, seeing the remains of civilizations that lived on the island over 3000 years ago. The best words in English to understand the atmosphere of Sardinia come from DH Lawerence, who traveled through Sardinia “This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel-nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself”. 

The most idyllic beaches in Europe

Sardinia boasts an abundance of majestic beaches, along its 1849 km coastline. I’ve explored countless incredible beaches. I understand why Sardinia is known for having the best beaches in Europe.

During the summer, famous beaches become heavily crowded. But you can always find untouched beaches anytime in the year if you are willing to explore. Some beaches are wild and can only be reached on foot with a backpack of supplies.

Many tourists come to Sardinia for its beaches; remember not to neglect everything else in Sardinia, which is waiting to be explored and experienced. 

The remains of an ancient island

When you head out into the countryside, you will see the ancient Sardinia. Ancient sites have been discovered all across the island.

Nuraghi dominate the prehistoric landscape; there are over 7000; thousands more could be hidden or lost by time. The giant’s tombs, also from the megalithic period, named for their gigantic dimensions, can be found in Sardinia facing the constellation of Taurus.

Large hollowed-out rocks known as Domus de Janas or faerie houses can be found which predate the Nuraghi. They are large echoing chambers often filled with magical and spiritual symbols.

Rugged and untouched nature

The nature of Sardinia is one of the main reasons why I keep coming back to this island.

Sardinia is full of forests, mountains, lagoons, and wetlands. The landscapes are full of beauty and power. A vast network of rivers run through the land, creating many waterfalls before meeting the lakes and the sea.

Barbagia is the mountainous region of Sardinia, named by Cicero, who described it as the land of barbarians. There are so many outdoor activities in this region and many beautiful towns that have kept their culture untouched. The island invites you to explore on foot, by bike or car.

Rich culture & traditions

culture is one of the reasons why you should visit sardinia

Sardinia is rich in traditions and customs of ancient roots that have been handed down for generations to the present day.

Traditions change from village to village. There is a great sense of pride in the rich culture, which is expressed through elaborate festivals that take place throughout the year. 

Cantu a tenore is the most ancient Sardinian music, created by shepherds during long moments of isolation while watching over their flock in the countryside.

The enchanting music signs about life in nature and the hard work alone in the wilderness. The sound is unique, and its vibrations find a way into your body

Perfect for walking

Sardinia has some of the most beautiful places to walk on the continent. Every area of Sardinia has something for all levels, from casual walking, hikes, to more strenuous treks.

The mountainous interior invites enthusiasts to explore its wild mountains, prehistoric ruins, marquis vegetation, and dense forests.

The Sardinia landscape is rugged but unspoiled. Well maintained paths and marked paths are rare (but that’s changing.) I recommend bringing a good map with you if you are heading out on longer walks, look for local walking guides.

why you must visit sardinia
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Is Sardinia named after Sardines?

Sardines are named after Sardinia, not the other way round. The small oily fish were once in abundance, in the seas around the island of Sardinia

is sardinia named after sardines
A school of Sardines

Sardines are also known as pilchards and are a member of herring family Clupeidae. Some people class the fish shorter in length than 15 cm (6 in) to be sardines, and larger fish to be pilchards. Over 21 species of fish are known as a Sardine. 

The first known record of ‘sardine’ being used to refer to a type of fish was in England in the early 15th Century. It was initially a French word, devived through Latin and Greek, to indicate the island of Sardinia. The English gave the word an entirely new meaning.

Sardinia is no longer famous for Sardines, nor are they commonly used in the cuisine of the island, but there is a specialty that comes from the sea. Bottarga or Butariga in Sardo is a delicacy of salted, cured fish, typically flathead mullet, usually it is mixed into Spaghetti. Here is a recipe for Spaghetti all Bottarga. 

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Who is on the Sardinian Flag?

The flag of Sardinia is intriguing and mysterious, much like its origin. The flag is known as ‘I Quattro Mori’ which translates to ‘The Four Moors’. The flag is made up of a red St Georges cross, with four back Moor heads positioned in each of the four partitions. 

who is one the sardinian flag? The current flag of Sardinia, known as 'I Quattro Mori'
The current flag of Sardinia, known as ‘I Quattro Mori’

Today, the heads are looking to the right, which faces East, possibly symbolizing the connection to the Kingdom of Italy.

The possible origins of this unique flag are very historic, yet much of its origin is shrouded in mystery, lost with time, and what remains could be a legend. The debating floor is still open on this one, but I want to share with you some of the most interesting and plausible origins that I have come across. 

The Four Moorish Kings & The King of Aragon

The flag has its origin going back 740 years. The most probable explanation is that the four moors represent Four Moorish Kings that were defeated in combat by the Crown of Aragon. The Crown of Aragon was a confederation of Kingdoms in the Mediterranean, stretching to Corsica, Aragon, and Sardinia. In 1096 Peter I of Aragon and Navarre defeated the forces of Al-Mustra’in of Zaragoza II in Alcoraz (a city in the north-east of Spain.)

Following the battle, Peter I, received a crusader’ shield depicting the cross of Saint George, and the decapitated heads of Four Moorish King’s, or Princes to commemorate the crucial victory. It was said that Saint George himself appeared during the battle, and helped by killing Moors. Some legends believe George even picked the heads of the four bravest and great moor princes.

The origin of the sardinian flag,  Peter receiving a shield emblazoned with St George's Cross and four crowned heads
Peter receiving a shield emblazoned with St George’s Cross and four crowned heads, following the Battle of Alcoraz in 1096

 The event was of such importance that the Sardinian flag first origins found their way into the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Aragon. The beheaded moors became a symbol of the war against the Muslim invasion of Southern Europe.

The four moor heads could represent four victories against Zaragoza, Valencia, Murcia, and the Balearics, instead of the decapitated heads gifted to the King after the battle.

The Four Medieval Kingdoms of Sardinia

Many people believe that the four heads represent the four medieval kingdoms of Sardinia known as the Giudicati in Italian. They took power in Sardinia from the 9th to the 15th Century; each domain had its ruler, who was known as a judge and had the powers of a king.

The island was facing raids from North African pirates, and later from the Arabs of Spain. The Sardinians were very successful and resiting the attacks, the Pope wrote a letter to one of the Sardinian kingdoms requesting that they help in defense of Rome. 

  • The Kingdom of Cagliari with the capital in Santa Igia
  • The Kingdom of Arborea with the capital in Oristano,
  • The Kingdom of Gallura with the capital in Civita,
  • The Kingdom of Torres with the capital in Porto Torres, Ardara, and then Sassari.

The Moors were a relentless enemy to the Kingdom of Sardinia, and it could be possible that the heads on the flag of Sardinia, represents each Kingdom of Sardinia and their combined strength. The Kingdom of Sardinia was slowly broken up by the powers in Pisa and Genoa. 

It wasn’t until the 14th Century when the Kingdom of Sardinia joined the Crown of Aragon, and ‘I Quattro Mori’ became associated with Sardina. Sardinia exists in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, along with Corsica, control over the sea was so important to the Kingdom of Aragon.

The Kingdom constructed Towers along the whole coast of Sardinia, some still standing today. The Four Moors flag was flying from many of the towers to show the moors that they are not welcome, and if they try to invade, then they will face the same fate as the four moors depicted on the flag. 

The Wedding of Petronilla

The Sardinia flag appears in a painting from the 16th Century by Filippo Ariosto, showing the Wedding of Petronilla and Berenguer IV. Petronilla later became the queen of Crown of Aragon, Sardinia would have been under her power. 

who is on the sardinian flag, found in a wedding painting

The Sardinian Flag in Modern times

Throughout the centuries, the flag had many variations, at one time showing the faces looking to the left (possibly west to the Kingdom of Aragon, where the flags origins are), sometimes with crowns, sometimes with bandanas covering the eyes, and some times with earings. Maybe the flag was changed depending on the enemy of the moment, who threatened the Kingdom of Sardinia. 

The moors looking to the left on the flag
An older version of the flag, showing the blindfolded Moors facing to the left

In the 18th Century, the representation of the flag was fixed by the Piemontese government, who ruled over Sardinia. It was done so for continuity for official documents and coinage. 

The latest version of the flag and the most commonly seen one today was adopted on 15th April 1999. The autonomous region of Sardinia first used it in 1950. The region law describes the format of the flag as such: a white field with a red cross and a bandaged Moor’s head facing away from the left (the edge close to the mast) in each quarter”  

who is on the sardinia flag
The current flag, showing the Moors unblindfolded and looking to the right

The flag shows the four heads looking the right, facing East to the Kingdom of Italy, which is now under control of the island, instead of meeting toward the ancient Kingdom of Aragon in todays Spain. The blindfolds were removed from the eyes, which represents freedom and liberation. Maybe also signifying the end of fear of invasion by another Kingdom or Country. The looped earing was also removed in the revised version of the flag, which again symbolized liberty.

The flag of Corsica

The flag of Corsica

The flag from the French island of Corsica, immediately to the North of Sardinia is very striking. It shows a single moor head on a white background. Both of these islands have a shared history battling against a Moor insurgency. Sardinia and Corsica were both islands of vital strategic importance to the Kingdom of Aragon. They both have chosen Moor heads to represent their history and represent their proud populations.

Cagliari Football Club and I Quattro Mori

The logo of Cagliari Calcio
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