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Sardinia, An Italian Jewel in The Mediterranean

Mar 13, 2008
Equidistant from the Italian mainland and the Tunisian coast, Sardinia is, in the words of D.H. Lawrence, "lost between Europe and Africa and belonging to nowhere". Sardinia has it's own dialect of the Italian language and distinct customs, the island boasts a fiercely independent character while remaining unmistakably and vividly Italian.

There is nothing particularly run of the mill about Sardinia, it really is a unique jemstone in the Mediterranean.

As the Mediterranean's second biggest island after Sicily - though with less than a third of Sicily's population - Sardinia encompasses a range of diverse faces, from the sleek yachts of the fabled Costa Smeralda to the simple shepherds' society of the mountainous interior. The fact that you can pass from one to the other in less than an hour is part of the island's appeal.

Neither image, of course, represents more than a fragment of the whole picture. Sardinia has secluded beaches and rocky headlands on every coast, interspersed with dramatic cliffs and placid lagoons, while the interior is characterised by forested mountains and pungent expanses of wild macchia - all of which help to account for the rich diversity of wildlife.

These physical differences go together with deep cultural contrasts, often corresponding to the mosaic of smaller territories that make up the island, each with its distinctive traditions, dialects and historical roots, for instance Gallura and Logudoro in the north, and Sulcis and Sarrabus in the south. At a still more local level, each village celebrates its individuality at the many flamboyant festivals that take place throughout the year.

Ranging from rowdy medieval pageants to dignified religious processions, these festivities help to keep tradition alive in an island where the past is inescapable.

Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian) is the Mediterranean's second largest island after Sicily, with a population of around 1.6 million. Its main city, Cagliari, is also a provincial capital. The other seven provinces are Carbonia- Iglesias, Medio-Campidano, Ogliastra, Oristano, Nuoro, Sassari and Olbia-Tempio. The traditional shepherds' society that prevailed for centuries is still evident inland, but the economy today is principally based on tourism, fishing, farming and mineral extraction.

Lying 200km west of the Italian mainland and the same distance north of the African coast, Sardinia's position on the chief Mediterranean trade routes has ensured that it has rarely been free of foreign intervention - though this has endowed the island with a rich heritage of archaeological and artistic remains.

Despite the centuries of occupation Sardinia has retained a fiercely independent identity, expressed through its distinctive dialect, local festivals, unique costumes and cuisine. Since 1948 the island has had a degree of regional autonomy, but only a minority of the population supports the small separatist parties.

The official Sardinian flag shows four blindfolded heads on a white background (similar to the Corsican flag). Its origins are uncertain but may have originally represented captured pirates hence the flag's name, "Four Moors".

Some versions show the figures with headbands instead of blindfolds.
For those of you who have never visited Sardinia before, if you plan to do so soon then you are in for a real treat. The people are welcoming and warm, the climate is lovely, approximately 300 days of sunshine per year, the food is wonderful and the scenery is fantastic.

There are so many things to do in any area of Sardinia, beaches, mountains, beautiful villages, amazing coastline and beautiful villages to visit.
Alghero is a must visit place, alive one minute with tourists and locals taking a stroll or shopping, sipping a coffee in a piazza cafe, discussing life or just taking in the surroundings.

The next minute it can seem quite ghostly, every one in for siesta with only the odd dog or two roaming the streets. The place is magical.
About the Author
Sardinia Holiday

You may not always agree with my writings but I hope to inform.

Harwood E Woodpecker
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