Sardinia is a land full of surprises; culture changes from village to village. Below are some of the things that make Sardinia famous to the world.
Sardinia boasts majestic beaches that can be found right across its 2000km coastline. The sparkling turquoise waters complement the glittering sands. There are beaches for everyone. Whether you want to relax and catch the sun, swim in the clear pool or wander down the rugged coast, you will find a beach that’s just right for you. Every Sardinian has their favourite beach, as will you if you take the time to explore the coast. The coastline changes often bringing new delightful beaches with unique features and scenery. There are wild beaches that can only be reached on foot and with a backpack of supplies, often leading to unnamed coves with areas of golden white sand.
The Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) in the north-east of Sardinia has put Sardinia on the map, possibly overshadowing the real beauty of this overlooked island. It is the rustic and romantic region of Sardinia that has transformed into a millionaire’s paradise — continuing to spread towards Olbia and across to Palau. Aga Khan developed it in the 60s. When it started, it was only known to a select few such as the Agnelli family owners of Fiat. Soon after the area gave rise to luxury hotels, golf courses and spas for footballers, actors, and millionaires from around the world.
The Nuragic Civilization
We know little about the ancient Nuragic Civilization which lived on the island during the bronze age. But their past presence is quickly made known to any visitor to the island. Across the island remains their cone-like towers made up of giant stones. Speculation exists around the purpose of these structures, likely to have been for defence, living and storage of food. Incredibly, 7000 of these structures remain around the island; there may have been upwards of 20,000, that have now sunk into the Sardinian soil.
The Nuragic Civilization is an enigma that brings archeologists and tourists-alike to fulfil their curiosity and the chance to delve deeper into the mysteries that surround these people.
The Sardinian Language
78% of the inhabitants of the island speak Sardo. Sardo is closely related to the ancestor Latin vulgar which gave way to all the romance languages we have today across Europe. The language was introduced in Sardinia in 238 BC when Rome was battling Carthage for the power of the island. Every region has had a different historical evolution and linguistic influence. The language has fragmented into dialects over the centuries, different areas have different dialects, and there is even detectable difference in the language of neighbouring towns. The dialects are different because of the isolation of Sardinian culture and the tribe of community within cities. The five main dialects are Nuorese, Logudorese, Campidanese, Gallurese, and Sassarese.
The language suffered a lot in 1714 when Italian became the official language, and Sardo was looked down upon by the authorities. Today there is a strong movement to defend the language that sometimes goes unheard by visitors to the island, as many prefer to communicate in Italian.
Traditions And Folklore In Sardinia
Sardinia is rich in traditions and customs of ancient roots that have been handed down for generations to the present day. The traditions of Sardinia are as numerous as the dialects of the Sardinian language, differing from village to village. There is a great sense of pride in their rich culture, and its expressed at the elaborate local festivals and celebrations that take place throughout the year.
Each village across Sardinia has its costumes, embedded in history and expressing influences from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Byzantine, and the Spanish that at one time alternated control over the island. The traditional clothing has soaked up all these cultures for thousands of years. The designs were the creation of local craftsmanship still alive today. A plethora of elements of jewelry, amulets, headdresses, and skirts come together to form an immaculate, eye-catching, and stunning dress that leaves echos through time.
Cantu a tenore is the most ancient Sardinian music, created by during long moments of isolation watching over their sheep. 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.
Mirto – The Sardinian Liqueur
Mirto is a type of liqueur from Sardinia and neighbouring Corsica. Its made from myrtle berries which grow on both island and other parts of the Mediterranean to a lesser degree. The berries have the shape, size, and colour of blueberries and are known for their medicinal properties, being prescribed by ancient physicians to treat pain and fever for millennia.
The berries are ripe between November to January. Vodka is used to soak up the intense flavors from the berries. After being left for six weeks, the mixture is then lightly pressed, and the pulp is taken away before the addition of honey or sugar. Filtered water is added to reduce the percentage of alcohol. Once this has been down, it’s left for one month before being filtered again to remove any residue.
The liquid is very sweet and usually reserved for the end of a meal to aid digestion. Every restaurant and bar in Sardinia has Mirto behind the counter.
Sardinia has a rich bread culture with over 300 types. Pane Carasau is, without a doubt the most well-known bread from Sardinia. It is a traditional flatbread unmistakable for its crispiness and lightness. It’s made from wheat flour, salt, yeast, and water. Its taste and thinness take great skill to master. The dough is rolled out thin and placed in a fire oven. Once it fills with air in the middle creating two layers before the edges are cut to create two pieces of this unique bread. The bread is baked for another time to bring it into its characteristic and add some colour. It was an ideal food source for shepherds because it would remain good to eat for long periods while the shepherds were isolated in the countryside looking after their herds. They have found traces of the traditional bread in Nurgahis indicating the long existence of this bread in the lives of the Sardinian people.
Asinara Island – Home Of The Donkeys
Asinara, when translated from Italian means donkey-inhabited. The last population census of 2001, lists a population of one man. The island is in the North-west and is the second-largest island after Sardinia after Sant’Antico in the south-west. The island is now a national park, but it has an incredible history of its own. It was used as a prison camp during the first world war and later being refurbished in the 1970s to a maximum-security prison, for mafia members and terrorists until December 1997. The Asinara Donkey (Adino dell’Asinara) is a breed of donkey indigenous to the island, most of the population are albino. The donkeys are believed to be the offspring of donkeys introduced from Egypt during the 19th century. You can visit the island by taking a ferry from Porto Torres or Stintino.
Torrone – A Sweet Sardinian Speciality
Torrone is a traditional sweet made from honey, egg whites, almonds, and nuts. It can be found almost everywhere in Sardinia. It originated from Tonara a village in the mountainous heart of Sardinia, every year on Easter Monday there is a feast dedicated to this chewy sweet treat. Youll find many variations of Torrone. With the original three ingredients at the base. Today you can discover Torrone with all types of syrups to enhance the taste or take away the overpowering sweetness. It can be found everywhere at festivals and markets across Sardinia. It is a delightful treat that is known across Italy and to many people in the world.
Being A Blue Zone – The First Out Of Seven
Sardinia is known to the world as a blue zone. There are a higher number of centenarians compared to the world. There are seven different blue zones on the globe; Sardinia was the first to have been identified. Its believed because of their lifestyle, diet choices, and genetics, the Sardinians have increased longevity. One reason is the respect and reverence for elders in communities which gives older people meaning the right to the end of their lives.