Being a bit biased, I can think of a dozen reasons why travelers should come to Sardinia. Since you obviously can’t get inside my head, I thought I might spend a few words discussing what makes Sardinia a great travel destination.
The People of Sardinia
Sardinians are the warmest, friendliest, most gregarious bunch of people you will ever meet. Again, I am a bit biased, but I have introduced many outsiders to Sardinia and they have never failed to be touched by the warmth of Sardinians. It’s a characteristic that is even remarked upon by other Italians.
Any Sardinian tourist should take the time to try and talk to the locals – I promise the rewards will be worth it. I haven’t met a single Sardinia who didn’t love talking about their favorite restaurant, beach, most beautiful view etc. Even by learning just a few phrases, visitors can make a good impression and reap the benefits. Sardinians that do speak English are usually very happy to use their knowledge with friendly outsiders – please don’t’ take this as license to act like a moron. As an American, I am more than familiar with the common breed of package tourist – don’t be like that. Get to know the locals – your travels in Sardinia will be much improved.
The Natural Beauty of Sardinia
Sardinia is an island of extraordinary natural beauty – in fact, I would say it rivals the rest of Italy. What we lack in cathedrals and monuments we make up in crystal green waters, striking rock formations, and the savage inland mountains.
Many tourists come only to the Costa Smeralda, to bask in the famous waters, but the rest of the island has its own charms. The beaches near Alghero give Porto Cervo a run for its money with a tenth of the tourists. Il Poetto near Cagliari is home to thousands of flamingos, strutting their brilliant plumage.
The rocky cliffs of Carloforte are home to rare cormorants and Bosa is a refuge to the endangered gryphon vulture. Visitors to eastern Sardinia and the Gennargentu Mountains will see shy mouflons, mountain goats, marmots, and geckos. Sardinia’s mining past opened up several underground cave systems that otherwise would never have been found. One of the most spectacular is in the southwestern corner, near Sant’Antioco.
Italy is known for its gastronomy, but tourists can often be disappointed by the difficulties of finding authentic local foods and the prevalence of international chain restaurants. This is not an issue in Sardinia. Sardinians are very proud of their simple, locally-sourced fare. Anyone willing to venture two blocks away from the port will find wild boar sausage, hand-made pastas, rustic bread, and sharp sheep’s cheeses. Tuscany has nothing on Sardinian food.
Sardinian food can’t be discussed without mentioning the wines: Vernaccia, Monica, Vermentino di Gallura (one of the only four Italian DOCG white wines), Cannonau & Moscato are just the most well-known types. Wine tours of the major wineries abound but some of the most memorable tours will be of the small, local producers. Many agriturismi have vineyards and will be happy to show off their best vintages for guests.
Sardinia is still very much an insular and isolated place so the food and culture is still very much influenced by what is grown, raised, fished, and hunted on the island. Most farms are still smaller affairs, lacking the commercial factory farming found in many other parts of the world. Many farmers will be working the same land that their parents and grandparents worked. Many families who have moved off the land (my own included) still maintain small plots to keep the land in the family. WWII was not so long ago, and many elders still remember hoarding the produce from their farms and hiding it from the Italian fascists.
Ok – that went a bit more long winded than I had intended. Regarless, there are several reasons why tourists should come to Sardinia. Now – the next post I should write should be about why Sardinians should welcome tourists. Next time….