Journeys would have lost a half of their relish if we couldn’t tell the world about them.
Nikolay Przhevalsky (Russian geographer and explorer)
Sardinia is often called “The land of a hundred colours and of a hundred odors”. Its shape reminds a sandal and locals believe that God came to earth at this very place and that the island is God’s footprint. Luxury yacht and hotels, beaches with white sand and heavenward mountains, green fields and gothic churches – all of this is Sardinia!
It is impossible for me to tell everything about the whole island. For now I only visited the small Southern part of it. But, believe me, even that small part of Sardinia is more than enough to fall in love with this marvelous land. I have a good local friend there, so do not expect any hotel review from me.
When it comes to a trip, the only thing that I really plan is a flight. So the adventures start right after the landing. I vote for the spontaneity and total improvisation. After all, vacation is supposed to be fun. And even though I am not a fan of lying on the beach for hours, I am not spending my holiday rushing after all the excursions and sightseeing afraid of missing something worth visiting.
The exploration of the South Sardinia begins in Cagliari airport – the arrival point by plane. According to the modern historians, Cagliari (administrative capital of Sardinia) is the most ancient of all the existing cities in Italy. By the way, Sards – the locals – see themselves as a separate nation and really don’t like to be called Italians.
Cagliari is literally created for walking around and enjoying historical monuments. The city center is highly attractive with fine samples of architecture, its sea-front with ports and, of course, its amazing historical center, with the medieval “Castello”, dominating the city.
Sardinian food is simply divine. As anywhere in Italy, there is a large choice of different kinds of ham, if you are a meat lover. Personally, I recommend small tuna; there is plenty of it at the Sardinians coasts. And, moreover, my favourite, Bottarga – dried eggs of sea fish, mostly of tuna or mullet. Locals use bottarga as an ingredient; they add it to risotto, pasta, pizza or sauces. Personally, I eat it just in slices, especially with local beer, with more than a hundred years history – Ichnusa.
According to various sources, Ichnusa – one of the most ancient names of Sardinia. In ancient Greek it means “imprint”. The imprint of that very sandal of God, I presume.
In the world of mountains, mines and lush vegetation, far from the sea, you can find tiny pearls of architecture. Such as the ancient Byzantine church San’Elia of Tattinu in Nuxis with its cross-shaped floor-plan. The nearby Sacred Well of Tattinu, dating to Nuraghic Age is also worthy of mention. Locals come for water here even nowadays.
This ancient town, founded 1000 years ago, attracted us by total absence of tourists. Life here is authentic and peaceful and the habitants are more than hospitable.
Well, enough of a history. Porto Pino, the little coastal town became one of our favourite places. The name in Italian means “Pine Harbour”, so it’s easy to guess that there are a lot of pines around. This town is a real paradise for the photographers. There are beaches with the finest white sand and crystal blue water; there are cliffs, dunes and the above-mentioned pines.
Nearby there is a beach, called Spiaggia dei Francese (French girls’ beach). This beach, hidden by the chalky rocks, got its name after French tourists, who chose this place for topless sunbathing. I suppose it marked the conservative Sards.
Moving from one town to another, we often see a medieval castle on the top of a mountain – Castello di Aquafredda (castle of a cold water). It is situated in Siliqua. Strange to say, but it never crossed my mind to climb and visit it. So, next time (and there will be next time for sure), I will certainly fill this gap.
Growing out of its history as a quaint mining town nestled on the beautiful Italian coastline in Sardinia, Nebida is transforming into a popular resort town. Here you can visit some abandoned mines. Approaching to the town you can easily see the ruins of Laveria – a place where mine rocks were washed.
Moving a bit further, you arrive to one of the most romantic sight of the Southern Sardinia – Pan Di Zucchero (sugar bread in Italian). This cliff is 145 yards high and is the highest cliff in the Mediterranean Sea. We witnessed an amazing sunset from the coast at this place.
Isola di San Pietro
I highly recommend carving out a day and to visit Carloforte – a town on the St. Pietro Island. You should take a ferry in Portovesme, so check the timetable. The Carloforte speciality is pasta with a particular sauce made of squid’s ink. The St. Pietro Island is really small only 32 square miles so you can cross it in a really short time. But the island is so beautiful and one-of-a-kind, that you will not want to leave it any sooner.
Chia, in my opinion, is the most picturesque place in the Southern Sardinia. The sea in Chia is iridescent, changing its colour from emerald-green to azure. The beauty of the landscape seduces everyone. It varies from the sheer sun-bleached cliffs to the wide white-sand beaches. And the nature still remains pristine wilderness. Chia is one of the most photographed parts of the Southern Sardinia.
During the whole road trip I noticed a great quantity of different ruins, watch-towers and other ancient structures. Sards cherish their heritage property.
If you are tired of the sun, I advise you to visit Is Zuddas Caves (Grotte Is Zuddas) situated in Santadi. They are 1804 yards long, but only 546 yards are equipped for the visiting. There are seven different chambers with unique characteristics. Unfortunately, I didn’t make too many pictures there, due to the lack of the luminosity. If you wish, pictures are easy to find on the internet.
A lot of farms that are set back into the island, propose horse-riding walks for horsy folks. I’d like to warn all the horse-lovers, they eat horses in Sardinia. Horsemeat is a common part of any menu in the restaurants and there are farms that breed horses especially for food.
Those who love sailing could rent a sailboat in the Cagliari port and enjoy the sightseeing from the seaside. Underwater world is also bright and various, so scuba diving is a pretty good option to diversify your holiday.
As you can see, I only had time to discover a very small part of this amazing land. To be continued…