Beautiful and wild Sardinia is unlike anywhere else in Italy. In Sardinia you can stay in 5 star resorts complete with golf courses and tennis courts as well as rustic accommodations on a rural farm. Want to party the night away with the jet set crowd? Then head to Flavio Briatore’s Billionare or the Lord Nelson Pub. Not all the wildlife is in the clubs, if seeing soaring eagles is more your thing then go to Gennargentu National Park.
Sardinia has more outdoor opportunities than just about anywhere else in Italy. Whether your preference is hiking, boating, surfing, kayaking or horseback riding you will find it here. Sardinia is home to parks, nature preserves and UNESCO Heritage Sites all with their own unique fauna, birds, animal’s, and marine life.
Here are just some of the areas highlights:
The Maddalena Archipelago – The Maddalena Archipelago is made up of seven islands at the northern end of Sardinia. Beyond the islands is the Strait of Bonifacio which is now a marine reserve. The Maddalena Archipelago is a nature lovers paradise with spectacular scenery all around. When the mistral winds hit the islands the calm and tranquil seas put on a spectacular show with big waves crashing to shore. In addition to nature there is a little bit of history. Garibaldi, an Italian hero, is buried on Caprera, one of the islands in the archipelago.
Saltwater Marshes – The marshes and salt flats near Cagliari are known for the large number of migratory and local birds, including a colony of flamingos which at times number 10,000. In addition to birds, there is an operating saltworks at the Macchiareddu salt flats. The area has made an environmental comeback of sorts. For year’s pollution, illegal dumping and development were destroying the local environment. Efforts to clean up the area have been successful and it was recently removed from the Montreux Record.
Piscinas Dunes – The dunes at Piscinas and Is Arenas rise and fall with the mistral that blows in from France. The dunes can rise as high as 164 feet (50 m). The beaches are populated with esparto, thorny carrot, sea lily and further inland junipers and old olive trees. There is also a wide variety of animals such as foxes, wild cats, partridges, rabbits and even deer. In June the loggerhead turtles lay their eggs and make their trek back to the sea. Just so you know, several websites advertise that “naturism” is practiced at some of the beaches which I take to mean nudism.
Foresta Dei Sette Fratelli – The forest of the seven brothers located near Cagliari contains over 9,800 acres of pine, eucalyptus and cypress trees and reaches an altitude of 3,355 feet (1,000 meters).
Gennargentu National Park – Gennargentu National Park covers 146,000 acres and includes some of the most mountainous landscape in Sardinia including Punta La Marmora, the highest peak on the island. This is a great area for experienced hikers. You may see wild cats, monk seals and eagles while you are hiking through the park.
Capo Caccia – Located near Alghero, Capo Caccia is home to a large nature preserve and a number of caves including the Gratto di Nettuno. You can drive close to the end of the promontory and take the 656 very steep steps, known as the Escala del Cabirol down to the Gratto di Nettuno. The steps start near the lighthouse. Boats are available to take you from Alghero (about a 3 hour ride) to the Gratto di Nettuno if you prefer a more leisurely entrance to the Gratto.
Agritourism – Sardinia offers great opportunities to experience Agritourism. By staying with local farmers you can experience firsthand what life on the island is like. You will get a taste of local culture, history and if you are lucky local cuisine. Several of the farms have excellent chefs who will create wonderful meals with local products many of which are organic. Some of the farmers on Sardinia live in towns and villages and walk daily to their farms. If you want to stay on a rural farm be sure to let the organization you book through know that, otherwise you may end up in a local house in the middle of town which is still not a bad way to go.
In addition to its beautiful landscape, Sardinia is also has a rich history and culture.
Nuraghi – Over 7,000 Nuraghi with their distinctive cones can be found in Sardinia. The civilization that produced these cone shaped structures existed from about 1800 to 500 BC. These truncated towers were made with large stones and without the use of mortar. The structures do not have a foundation and are kept standing by the weight of the stones. The best Nuraghi can be found at Abbasanta , Torralba and Barùmini.
Tiscali – Built inside a cave called Monte Corrasi, Tiscali is an ancient nuraghic village sitting on top of Mount Tiscali. Unless you are an experienced hiker you will need a tour guide to visit Tiscali. Located near the towns of Oliena and Dorgali the roundtrip can take 6 hours of hiking and driving, much of it requiring a four wheel drive vehicle.
Serra Òrrios – Another of Sardinia’s well preserved nuraghic villages is Serra Òrrios. Located near Dorgali and Nuoro the village dates from around the 12th century BC. You will need a car to reach Serra Òrrios but it is a short walk from the road to the village, a little more than 500 yards.
Music – Sardinian music is among the oldest in Italy. The launeddas a three-piped wind instrument that resembles a triple clarinet and dates from 700 BC or so is still used in public festivities.The region is also known for its polyphonic chants and its sacred songs called gozos.
Here is a beautiful YouTube Slideshow of Sardinia: