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Sardinia Region

The typical image of this region is that of a pastoral civilisation locked in an untamed, inaccessible environment: an image reinforced by the novellas of Grazia Deledda, Nobel laureate in 1926, as well as by the poetry of Sebastiano Satta. In realty, the region has any number of intriguing characteristics that exert an undeniable attraction: not only the unspoiled beaches, the emerald coloured sea and the green of the mountains, but the reserved nature of the local population as well, together with the steady, discrete lifestyle of the small towns high up in the hills and ridges, the massive construction from centuries past, the countless signs of bygone traditions that survive in feasts, folk clothing, even the language, as well as a certain way of living and working, that are still typical of much of Sardinia, making it a truly “autonomous” region.
The most evident expression of this diversity are the Nuraghi, towers dating back more than a thousand years, built with massive boulders piled atop each other, but with no mortar to bond them. Sardinia offers a wealth of such constructions, approximately 7000: perched atop hills, their threatening forms still rise skyward, evidence of a truly unique civilisation.
Another sign of the region’s distinctive tradition is the continued use of horses in religious feasts, in processions honouring illustrious figures and during palio competitions: the most interesting tests of equestrian skill are the pariglie of Santu Lussurgiu and the Sartiglia of Oristano; the latter is a horserace held at Carnival time, during a complex celebration that includes a number of different ritual moments. Other renowned riding events are the Sardinian Cavalcade in Sassari and the ritual Ardia race in Sedilo and Pozzomaggiore during the Feast of San Costantino.
Traditional dress also continues to be used on the occasion of culinary feasts, the celebration of saints’ days or weddings: all the various features of the garb can be observed during a visit to the Museum of Folk Customs in Nuoro.
The Campidano Region, on the other hand, is famous for its venerable tradition of metal craftsmanship, and especially the art of creating knifes, whose abundant history is celebrated at the Museum of the Sardinian Knife in Arbus, where magnificent specimens can be admired.
The impressive cities of Sardinia include Cagliari, inextricable tied to its Castle, meaning the historic quarter surrounded by the fortified wall placed at the top of a limestone mass; the resulting view is not to be ignored: the sea, the port, the lake and the historic salt works, no longer active but one of the influential factors in the history of this city. Another renowned site is the fish market of San Benedetto, where the odours, colours, people and spoken language of the city demonstrate its true, day-to-day nature.
The southwest coast of the island is one of the areas with the widest variety of features: a rich store of bluffs, grottos, superb promontories, sandy inlets and splendid beaches, such as that of Chia. This natural allure proves even more intense on the islands of San Antioco and San Pietro, while columns and floor mosaics are the main points of attraction in the historic city of Nora.
The Gulf of Oristano also offers glorious beaches and crystal-clear waters. Further inland, amidst enchanting woodlands and plateaus, it is not rare to come across the area’s native, almond-eyed horses, who have lived in wild state for centuries. History has left an indelible mark on this portion of the island, as shown by the archaeological area of Tharros.
Sardinia also holds another type of green, one not so different from hue of its sea: the green of the mountains and plateaus, where a pastoral economy reigns supreme, as anyone who has read the novel Padre padrone knows. It is hard to remain indifferent to the aura of a wild, largely uncontaminated territory, as in the case of the majestic Gennargentu, whose rugged, wind-carved landscapes underline the ancient spirit of this area, the home of Cannonau, a renowned Sardinian wine, as well as Casizolu, a cheese noted for its intense flavour. Another highly authentic site is Orgosolo, whose historic core features the famous “murales”.
To conclude, the Gallura district, one of Sardinia’s best known areas, offers a variety of different settings: the sandy coasts of Santa Teresa di Gallura, the unspoiled natural setting of the Archipelago of the Maddalena and the high-society atmosphere of the Emerald Coast. Here, the chic resort life of Porto Cervo revolves around the town’s famous “piazzetta”, branching out to the Porto Vecchio as well, while the world’s most impressive pleasure boats gather at the Marina. But even those without a yacht can enjoy the views offered by the surrounding coast.

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