Get to Know the Real Island on Sardinia Holidays

Nuraghi Nuradeo Sardinia - Photo Arheo
Nuraghi Nuradeo Sardinia – Photo Arheo

In Sardinia, holidays can be moulded to fit any personality. Whether you’re a beach lover, a foodie or a history aficionado, there’s something there for you. 

When it comes to the lovely Italian island of Sardinia, holidays aren’t a production of highly commercial enterprises designed to trap tourists; rather, they facilitate a natural coming together of Mediterranean’s beauty, old world charm, fascinating history and wonderful welcoming ambiance.

Here are three of the islands most potent charms.

A Mysterious Past

Many people who enjoy Sardinia holidays are often mystified at some of the unique aspects of culture they encounter on the island. Apart from its relative isolation, which has insulated the locals from too many foreign influences, the island has a storied and mysterious past that must truly be explored in order to understand the present. For instance, the island is home to thousands of megalithic monuments called Nuraghe, built by a civilization that was intriguing both for the things they left behind and the things that have been lost along the way. It has also been claimed that Sardinia fits Plato’s description of the legendary continent of Atlantis—something which is, of course, highly disputable and controversial, but that only makes it more fascinating.

A Stunning Natural Beauty

Anyone who has been to the island will sing high praise of its idyllic beauty. Indeed, in Sardinia, holidays are infused with so many natural attractions it’s hard to know where to look first. But some of not as well known as other, including the wonderful scenic drive along the coast from Chia to Teulada. If you visit anytime from September to June, you’ll encounter Mother Nature at her most spectacular, with unpaved treks, secluded coves and beaches that stretch on and on under the soft touch of the Mediterranean sun.

A Fascinating Festival of Fish

In Carloforte, on the island of San Pietro a little off the south west coast, there is an annual schedule of festivities around the first week of June revolving around the catching of tuna. In this town, as it is elsewhere all over the island, fishermen still use ancient methods to catch their fish – an endeavor that only gets trickier the bigger the fish is. If you’re trying to catch tuna, you’re talking about fish that can be as large as five meters – so the art of tuna fishing has become something to be celebrated. The process is a team effort and, over the years, the ‘Girotonno’ has evolved. Initially a small local festival, the Girotonno has now taken on international proportions, involving the participation of chefs from around the world, who endeavor to create the most innovative and delicious dishes from the fresh caught tuna.

No matter where you’re based in Sardinia, holidays can be as relaxing or active as you desire. With a unique culture and lifestyle all its ownArticle Submission, this wonderful Italian island is a welcoming and inclusive destination with something for everyone.

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The author: Carolyn Spinks is COO of ABTOI – The Association of British Travel Organisers to Italy.

Where to stay in Olbia

There are hotels, B&Bs, villas and apartments available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Eat Your Way Around Sardinia


Fancy eating your way around Sardinia? Holidays to this stunning Italian island will introduce you to the local pastas, breads and unique cheeses.

When it comes to making holiday plans, what takes precedence at the top of your list of must-haves? If you want a blend of sunshine, culture, history and food then one place that can go straight to number one is Sardinia! Holidays to the second largest island in the Mediterranean will give you all that and more.

With a UNESCO World Heritage Site, fascinating ancient ruins and more culture than you can shake a stick at, visiting this lovely Italian island will also open your eyes to the incredible cuisine of the region. While Italian food is renowned the world over, many things you’ll find on the menu here are unique to the island.


It’s been said that if you took pasta away from Italy you would destroy much of its cuisine. While that’s actually not true at all and the country has far more to offer than spaghetti bolognaise, this is perhaps even more borne out in Sardinia. Holidays here will give you a taste of a cuisine with far reaching influences, however, it must be said that the pasta is, indeed, very good! The Malloreddus is a distinctive conch-shaped pasta that originated on the island. This unique pasta is made with semolina and saffron, and the shape – curled in on itself with ridges along the outside – is created by the dough being rolled out on wicker baskets. Try it with the traditional sausage sauce and pecorino cheese. You should also keep an eye out for the Fregola pasta, another one unique to the island, which is made into tiny balls (similar to Israeli couscous) and usually served with tomato sauce and clams.


When it comes to the breads of Italy, each region has its own unique take – and in fact on Sardinia, it’s said that each village has its own recipe. An important staple here, one variation you should try to start with is a simple shepherd’s bread – the Pane Carasau. Made from wheat flour, salt, yeast and water, the bread is a double baked flat version that resembles a cracker. In the old days, its longevity meant it could be taken up into the hills as shepherd’s tended their flock. Said to be named after a Roman soldier, the Cuvraxiu bread is a larger, salted style, which is very popular with the locals. It is circular with a crunchy crust and soft interior. For special occasions, the Kokkoi bread makes an appearance. It is worked until it is very white and can then be moulded into different shapes to match the events for which it is created.


The one food you simply can’t ignore are the fabulous cheeses or Sardinia. Holidays to any part of the island will introduce you to varieties that are hard, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. If you feel brave and experimental, you may want to try the Casu Marzu, more commonly known as ‘maggot cheese’. This sheep cheese is a specialty of the island and derives from a pecorino base that has maggots introduced to enhance the decomposition. The end result is a soft (supposedly delicious) delicacy, which is only eaten while the maggots are still alive. If that turns your stomach, then instead you may want to sample the earlier version of the Casu MarzuFree Articles, which is the Pecorino Romano or the Pecorino Sardo. Both are made from sheep’s milk and are among the oldest cheeses in the world.

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The author: Carolyn Spinks is COO of ABTOI – The Association of British Travel Organisers to Italy.

Where to stay in Olbia

There are hotels, B&Bs, villas and apartments available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Trekking on the Northern Coasts of Sardinia

La Maddalena Island - Photo © fredducci
La Maddalena Island – Photo © fredducci

If you like getting active on your travels, book your holidays to Sardinia! Here, you can trek along the northeastern and northwestern corners.

When it comes time to think about booking an active summer break, why not consider booking your holidays to Sardinia? As the second largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily), it has a rich and diverse history that dates back some 250,000 B.C. Once you’ve explored the island’s gorgeous beaches, why not consider getting your walking or hiking boots on?

Many people who come on holidays to Sardinia are often focused on enjoying the coastal areas, but for those who enjoy a bit of activity, looking to the interior can be a wonderful experience. Although many of the trails are not actually marked out, it is simple to get a guide or book yourself on a small, guided trip. Local experts are very knowledgeable about the landscape, flora and fauna, and often speak several languages fluently. For the best hiking, consider the northeast and northwestern regions of the island.

Northeastern trails

The northeastern trails of the island are a great place to start your outdoor adventure on your holidays to Sardinia. The area around Supramonte is the best place to start, and the rugged region is one of the least populated in Europe. You will come face to face with chalk walls and stunning gorges and, at the Supramonte di Oliena, you can follow the trails of Stone Age tribes who fled to a hidden cave near Monte Tiscali. If you are feeing energetic, take on the challenge of the highest peak in the range: the Monte Corrasi, stretching up 1463 metres. If you enjoy a bit of a hike but still want your beachfront within reach, plan a trek that begins or ends on the Costa Smerelda. These trails won’t take you up any huge mountain peaks, but they will give you a chance to experience some truly breath-taking natural beauty.

The Northwest

For a spectacular hike taking in the very best of the island’s interior, head to Monte Limbara. The abundance of trees, streams, waterfalls and undulating trails often makes the experience a highlight of holidays to Sardinia. As you ascend you can visit the lovely mountain church, Madonna of the Snow, and if you fall in love with the region you can even stay in a hotel situation up the mountain.

Another excellent hike is along the pink granite cliffs of Garulla. The cliffs here spill on the beaches lapped by the most beautiful waters in the Mediterranean. You can enjoy a leisurely swim, diving off the boulders, before carrying on to the cove at Tinnari – where you’ll get an unequalled view over the ocean (don’t forget your camera). This is an area that is mostly untouched by tourism and, at timesPsychology Articles, it can almost seem like your own private beach.

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The author: Carolyn Spinks is COO of ABTOI – The Association of British Travel Organisers to Italy.

Where to stay in Olbia

There are hotels, B&Bs, villas and apartments available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Sardinia: Top 8 Resorts

Cala Coloritze
Cala Goloritze – Photo

If you’ve thought about travelling to the beautiful island of Sardinia but are unsure about which resort is best then don’t worry – help is at hand! We take a look at Sardinia’s leading resorts.

1. Alghero: Arguably the most popular of all the resorts on the island. Some visitors are put off by the thought that Sardinia gets very crowded in high season but don’t miss the opportunity to visit the historic heart of this bustling town.

2. Cagliari: This is not only the largest town on the island but has been the capital of Sardinia for centuries. Many visitors arrive here from the Italian mainland and fall in love with the place, with its historic ramparts and nearby beaches.

3. Olbia: The resort of Olbia is very accessible, with a ferry terminal and small international airport. The main attraction here is the wonderful coastline, which is considerably more impressive than the resort itself.

4. Sassari: Though many choose to visit the new town, it is the old heart of Sassari that is really special. Visitors are sure to be impressed by the great variety and quality of food and drink found in Sassari.

5. Nuoro: Away from the packed coastal resorts, Nuoro is a haven in the center of the Sardinian mountains. This is an ideal location for those wishing to have a more peaceful holiday on the island.

6. Costa Smeralda: With its long lines of beaches, hotels, bars and restaurants, Costa Smeralda is the most visited region of Sardinia.

7. Oristano: A town of much historic importance that has become increasingly popular with visitors in recent years. The town is centered around its grand Piazza.

8. Porto Cervo: This elegant resort is built to fit in with the natural environment. Extremely popular with Italy’s rich and famousArticle Submission, the resort is worth a visit.

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Where to stay in Cagliari

There are hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses and apartments available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Cagliari, wines

Cagliari Wine and Food
Cagliari Wine and Food

Many are the wines, both white and red, produced from vineyards on the Campidano Plain (Nuragus, Barbera, Monica, Cannonau, Moscato), some of which are also excellent as appetizers (Vermentino, Vernaccia). The digestive liqueurs distilled from myrtle berries and su fil ‘e ferru, Sardinia’s brandy, so-called from the moonshiners’ trick of hiding their merchandise underground with a piece of wire coming to the surface to help them find it when the revenue officers were not in sight.


Monica, together with Cannonau, is the most common species of vine all over Sardinia. Its origins are rather uncertain, but the evidence seems to point to Spain, since it is often referred to as Mora di Spagna. This wine expresses all its productive exuberance in deep, moderately calcareous soils. The areas with gently sloping hills well oriented towards the sun appear to be the best places for the production of Monica grapes, which have a perfect balance of coloring and sugary substances. In the Monica vineyards we almost always find associations with other grape varieties (15%, 20%) which tend to exalt even more the fine characterization and value of this variety. Monica wine is best known for its suppleness, the delicacy of its flavor and a balanced alcoholometric strength, on the average between 11° and 12°. The D.O.C. (V.Q.P.R.D.) abbreviation has been assigned to two types:

  • one decidedly a table wine denominated Monica di Sardegna;
  • the other, more full-bodied and stronger (minimum 13° alcohol) thanks to a slight drying of the grapes on the vine, denominated Monica di Cagliari.


Among Sardinia’s white wines, Nuragus is definitely the one produced in the largest quantity. The growing of this vine is concentrated prevalently in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano. The origins of this important variety appear to be unknown, and this has led some to consider it native to the island, born from a few seeds near a nuraghe. In many places in Sardinia this grape is called “burda” (wild) in the local idiom. The massive diffusion of this vine is to be explained by its rusticity and resistance to many plant diseases, in the lateness of its vegetative revival, in its capacity to adapt to all kinds of soil and, most of all, to its abundant fructification. It is the grape that “winds up the harvest season” in Sardinia since it ripens after all the others. The finest quality Nuragus wines are appreciated as appetizers and as wine to accompany seafood. In the last few years it has also been used in the preparation of brut and demi sec sparkling wines (by harvesting the grapes before they are fully ripe). Considering its peculiar qualitative characteristics, this wine was recognized as a V.Q.P.R.D. wine as far back as 1975. Today, Nuragus di Cagliari V.Q.P.R.D. wine is bottled and sold by Sardinian producers on European and international markets with good success.


These three wines strongly characterize Sardinian production of dessert wines and represent three pearls of the island’s wine production. The Malvasia vine grown in Sardinia is typically local and differs greatly from the many other Italian Malvasias. The growing of this variety is concentrated in two typical areas of production, the province of Nuoro, where it faces the sea on the western side of the island, with the Appellation d’Origine Controlee of Malvasia di Bosa, and the province of Cagliari, on lands to the southeast of the town of Cagliari, with the appellation of Malvasia di Cagliari. Recently these grapes, harvested before full ripening, go into the making of a pleasantly fragrant sparkling wine with a sweet taste. Nasco is perhaps the only grape truly native to the island. Its production is quite limited and concentrated prevalently in the areas with calcareous soils in the south of the province of Cagliari. Moscato, on the contrary, is grown all over the island, with three different V.Q.P.R.D. varieties: Moscato di Cagliari, Moscato di Sorso – Sennori and Moscato di Sardegna. The first two are characterized by a high alcohol content and a high percentage of natural sugars, while the third is a decidedly sweet sparkling wine, the sign of a Moscato with a good qualitative level.


Definitely of Spanish origin, the Giro’ vine became widespread in southern Sardinia in the first half of the 18th century, when the island was governed by the Piedmontese, who applied the directives for vineyards established in 1736 by the Marquis di Rivarolo. The production of this vine continued successfully up to the second half of the last century when, following the destruction of vineyards caused by a phylloxera epidemic, most vine-growers preferred other vines for use in replanting their vineyards since other varieties gave a higher yield and vinification was less difficult. Only after V.Q.P.R.D. recognition in 1979 was there a revival in interest of Sardinian vine-growers for this vine, which is capable of yielding a viscous wine of great elegance, competitive at the global level with the best-known wines with similar characteristics.

Where to stay in Cagliari

There are hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses and apartments available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Nature and Art in Sardinia

Sardinia is an island in every sense of the word; its culture is of native origin, it lies a long way from the mainland and it still astonishes the visitor by the violent natural contrasts between its bare, rocky coasts and its gentle rolling inland plateau, and by the variety of cultures found there. The prehistoric period is more a living fact, and has more evidence above ground than in most places, mingling, in a way which is sometimes fascinating, with modern life.

The most notable feature of this is the building fever which has taken the islanders since Sardinia was opened up to tourists, and which has attacked a society still for the most part patriarchal. The original inhabitants had a lively and original taste in building which is found in the famous nuraghs, and were no mean sculptors, as can be seen from the quantity of, local bronzes. The Greek world hardly touched Sardinia, and in the great carve-up of the Mediterranean in classical times it fell under the domination of the Phoenicians, then of the Carthaginians.

Rome then assimilated it and left its mark, more notable here than in many parts of the Italian mainland. It was fought for by Genoa and Pisa during the Middle Ages, while developing autonomous forms of government, such as the a giudicato, unusual among medieval political institutions.

The Aragonese held it until the 18th century, when it became part of the territory of the Kingdom of Sardinia, from which the modern state of Italy grew.

The itinerary:

OLBIA, a pretty seaport town with one of the finest Romanesque churches on the island, San Simplicio (11 th century), elegant and intact in its simple lines, in an isolated position. But our attention is mainly drawn by the astonishing richness of the natural beauty afforded by the views of the jagged coastline which consists of three bays as we go north from Olbia, the Bays of Armed, Marinella and Arzachena. The central stretch of this wonderful landscape of rocks, caves and beaches is the “Emerald Coast”, whose recent tourist development is Sardinia’s strongest holiday attraction today . The road from Arzachena to Palau is a succession of of breath-taking view. among rocky hill and valleys strewn with great boulders of granite which give an unmistakable impression of the prehistory of mankind.

La Maddalena Island - Photo © fredducci
La Maddalena Island – Photo © fredducci

At Palau, take the ferry to the Island of the Maddalena, whence one can reach by motor-road, through a pinewood, the adjoining Island of Caprera, famous as the last home of Garibaldi who died here and was buried near his home, which is now a museum open to the public.

Setting off again from Palau we take the road to Santa Teresa Gallura (25 km. – 16 3/4 mi.) on the northernmost point of Sardinia, within sight of Corsica. At nearby Capo Testa, landing place for ships in the Middle Ages, round columns on the beach remind us that the Romans passed this way. One can spend the night either at Santa Teresa or go inland to Tempio Pausania, the chief town of the Gallura district, in a fine hilly landscape.

The granite of its buildings gives it a certain sober elegance, even through the forms are rustic and tugged. There is a fine Romanesque Oratory with Baroque additions, a Cathedral founded in the 15th century and some of the houses have fine façades.

From Tempio, go down to the River Coghinas (66 m.-206 ft) to climb again to Perfugas, with the fine Aragonese-Gothic church of San Giorgio; in the interior, a fine altar-piece by an early 16th century Sardinian painter; continue west to the turning for Castel Sardo; shortly after haying taken this turning we come to the impressive Pisan Romanesque church of San Pietro delle Immagini (13th cent.) of black and white stone, lust before entering Bulzi. In a splendid landscape, now climb up to Sedini (8.5 km. (5 1/4 mi.) from the turning) with the fine church of Sant’Andrea (1517) in Aragonese style and the picturesque Domus de janas, an ancient tomb complex later transformed into dwellings. Near the town the picturesque ruins of San Nicola de Silanis, Lombard-Benedictine of the 1211, century.

Past Campo di Sedini, a wonderful marine landscape opens up. High up to the right we see the ruins of the Roman Baths of Castel Doria and those of an ancient castle. On the way down we pass the trachylic mass known as The Elephant because of its shape and arrive at Cartel Sardo, a town of Genoese origin, on a promontory with picturesque streets, and a late Gothic Cathedral in which there are some important paintings by local artists. From Castel Sardo, go west towards the coast road, passing Porto di Frigiano, with a Spanish Tower, to arrive at the nearby Nostra Signora de Tergu, now in ruins but once the finest Benedictine monastery in Sardinia (11th cent.). Twenty-one km. (13 mi.) from Castel Sardis is Sorso near which there are several nuraghi. Another 14 km. (8 3/4 mi.) brings us to PORTO TORRES.

PORTO TORRES a harbor of Carthaginian origin, with a fine Roman Bridge, ruins of baths, a 14th century Watch-Sower and the beautiful Pisan-Lombard basilica of San Gavino (11th century) with a magnificent Portal and important Roman Sarcophagus (3dr century) in the interior. Nineteen kilometers from Porto Torres and we are at SASSARI.

Sassari - Photo © new_reads
Sassari – Photo © new_reads

SASSARI provincial capital of medieval origin, with a lively and imaginative Cathedral in Spanish Colonial style with fine Gothic interior (inside, Madonna by 14th century Florentine artist); the Romanesque church of Santa Maria di Betlem with an elegant 13th century fountain in the cloister. The National Museum houses a rich archaeological collection and a Picture Gallery with works by Sardinian and Tuscan Primitives, a Madonna by Bartolomeo Vivarini, another by the Flemish painter Mabuse and some 1711, century canvases including a St. Anne by Stanzione. We now set off again for Alghero, making a long detour in the environs to see some magnificent architecture, the Abbey of the Santissima Trinita (16.5 km. – 10 mi. from Sassari) in a lonely setting full of colour and charm, a wonderful example of the Pisan Romanesque style; in the interior, frescoes by a 13th century painter from Latium.

We now continue to climb as far as Ardara and the elegant Lombard Romanesque church of Santa Maria del Regno, comprising nave and two aisles, plain and solemn with an altarpiece by a late Gothic painter. Running through the hills for 13 km. (8 mi.) we reach State Highway SS 131 which we take to Torralba, after which comes the junction with SS 131 bis; close by are two of the most imposing and famous nuraghi, that of S. Antine and that called Oes (Ox), o fa particularly striking shape. We now take SS 131 bis for Alghero; near the town of Thiesi is Borutta with a fine Pisan Romanesque church, San Pietro di Sorres (12th century). Passing through Ittiri, another 16 km. (10 mi.) brings us to ALGHERO.

ALGHERO, once a stronghold of the Genovese Doria family, then an Aragonese domain; here we shall spend the night. The Catalan Gothic Cathedral stands in a typical medieval setting, with San Fran-cesco (16th century cloister) and Casa Doria; on the sea front rises the round Torre di Sulis, a remnant of the Renaissance fortifications. From Alghero a trip of 13 km. (8 mi.) northwards takes us along a fascinating coastline to Capo Caccia, an extraordinary cliff of pink limestone overlooking the sea, in which opens the unreal, magical Grotto of Neptune, one of the natural wonders of the Mediterranean. Returning to Alghero we now take State Highway SS 292 which rises towards Monteleone (many nuraghi in the neighbourhood) and on through fine hill country to Padria (49 km. – 30 mi.), an ancient town of prehistoric origin, with the church of Santa Giulia, Aragonese Gothic (1520). A short trip of 12 km. (7 1/2 mi.) brings us back on to State Highway SS 131. Just before the road junction is Semestene, where stands the small Romanesque church of San Niccolo di Trullas. Following the state highway for another 17 km. (10 3/4 mi.) we arrive at MACOMER.

MACOMER, where we can spend the night. Half a day might be given up to exploring the hinterland of Macomer; take State Highway 129 to Silanus (10 km. 6 1/4 mi.) famous for its prehistoric architecture (nuraghi) and its medieval buildings such as the pre-Romanesque church of Santa Sarbana and the Romanesque church of San Lorenzo, the two elements blending perfectly: in the far distance, the massif of Monte Gennargentu. Going back to Macomer, we turn south, to reach Abbasanta after 16 km. (10 mi.), near which stands, just outside the town, the Losa Nuraghe, one of the most important on the island. From Abbasanta, a short trip of 5 km. (3 mi.) east through Ghilarza and Zuri with the two churches of San Palmerio and San Pietro brings use to the shores of Lake Omodeo, formed after 1923 by the building of the great dam across the River Tirso. Now returning to the State Highway, we reach Tramatza after a further 21 km. (13 mi.). From here, a detour to the right of 6 km. (3 3/4 mi.) brings us to Mills where stands the little church of San Paolo in the midst of orange groves. Returning to the State Highway we now rapidly reach ORISTANO.

ORISTANO (51 km. – 32 mi. from Macomer). It has some fine 16th century house fronts, a medieval Tower, a Cathedral of the high Middle Ages rebuilt in the 18th century. Spending the night at Oristano we set off south the next morning. We pass the church of Santa Giusta, one of the finest examples of Sardinian Romanesque, on a high knoll. We are now running through the pleasant plain of Campidano.

At a turning 16 km. (10 mi.) from Oristano we leave State Highway 126 on the right and continue along SS 131; after Uras we begin to climb slowly among hills and nuraghi: after 14 km. we arrive at Sardara with the fine little Romanesque Gothic church of San Gregorio. At Sanluri (10 km. – 6 1/4 mi. from Sardara) we turn right on the State Highway SS 197 which brings us to Guspini (24 km. – 15 mi.) at the foot of Monte Arcuentu. We now take SS 126 and after 4.5 km. (2 3/4 mi.) we are at Arbus; the road now runs along the edge of the plateau with fine views over the sea.

We pass Fluminimaggiore and enter on a fine run through rocky gorges and valleys covered with olives, almond-trees and ilexes, to arrive at IGLESIAS.

IGLESIAS (52 km. – 32 1/2 mi, from Guspini). This is a town of medieval origin with some fine churches, the Cathedral of 1288, the Gothic San Francesco and Santa Maria di Valverde (13th cent.) with a beautiful facade. We spend the night at Iglesias and set out again, leaving the mining town of Carbonia on our left to reach San Giovanni Suergiu (30 km. – 18 3/4 mi. from Iglesias); here we go on to the nearby Island of Sant’Antioco over a Roman Bridge to arrive at Calasetta, a picturesque little town of Oriental appearance overlooking the sea (20 km. – 12 1/2 mi.); before us is the Island of San Pietro.

One may lunch in one of the rustic restaurants of the district before returning to San Giovanni Suergiu where we take once more to State Highway SS 126. After 2 km. there is a turning leading to Tratalias with the austere Lombard-Pisan church of Santa Maria of 1213. Continuing along SS 126 we go round the southernmost tip of the island with Capes Teulada and Spartivento (the ” Windsplitter “) and return towards Cagliari. Between Giba and Teulada there are a number of nuraghi, while to the right of Pula (71 km. – 44 1/2 mi. from San Giovanni Suergiu) we can see the ruins of the Roman theatre of the ancient city of Nora, first Carthaginian and then Roman. From here, another 29 km. (18 mi.) brings us to CAGLIARI.

CAGLIARI, once a Carthaginian port, then an important Roman city, fought for by Pisa and Genoa in the Middle Ages, falling under the rule of the Aragonese in the 14th century. We shall devote a day of our journey to the city. The most ancient and interesting part stands on the hill between the modern streets of Via Mannu and Via Regina Elena. Let us begin by visiting the Umberto I Terrace, like a spur over the city and harbour, vrithin sight of the ruined walls of the Castle. Narrow streets lead us towards the Cathedral, Romanesque but with a recently rebuilt facade.

There are two superb works of art in the interior, the pulpit, carved by Maestro Guglielmo between 1159 and 1162 for the Cathedral of Pisa, and which the Tuscan city gave to Cagliari, and the Altar-piece by the Fleming Gerard David which a Spanish soldier left here in a fit of remorse, having looted it in during the Sack of Rome (1527). Through Via Martini Lo Piazza Indipendenza where stands the Archaeological Museum, the most important on the island, with a wealth of bronze statuettes (over 400) of the Nuraghic age of the 8th-5th centuries BC and of Punic, Greek and Roman sculpture.

In the Pictures Gallery are collections of works by Spanish and Sardinian painters. Along Via Buon Cammino we go down to the majestic Roman Amphitheatre, carved out of the side of the mountain. And from here, through the paths of the Botanical Gardens, we can mach the elegant Baroque church of San Michele from which, through Via Sassari, we reach the Palazzo Comunale, rebuilt in Aragonese style since the war (tapestries and paintings inside). In the lower part of the city the ruins of San Domenico, destroyed by bombing in the last war, are still to be seen; part of the Aragonese Gothic Cloister remains.

Nuraghi Nuradeo Sardinia - Photo Arheo
Nuraghi Nuradeo Sardinia – Photo Arheo

We now go to the extreme southeastern tip of the island; leaving Cagliari we pass Quartu Sant’Elena (fine altar-piece in the Parish Church) and take the coast road through fine landscapes and luxuriant orange groves to Villasimius (45 km. – 28 mi. from Cagliari) on Cape Carbonara from which we climb to Cape delta Marina (important nuraghi near here). We pass Castiadas to arrive at San Priamo (27 km. – 17 mi. from Villasimius) and follow State Highway SS 125 to the River Flumendosa (10 km. – 6 1/4 mi.) and Muravera. Here we strike inland following the course of the Flumendosa to Ballao (32 km. – 20 mi. from Muravera) from which 28 km. (17 1/2 mi.) of picturesque road bring us to Sant’Andrea Frius and after a further 16 km. (10 mi.) to Dolianova with the 13th century church of San Pantaleone, the most noteworthy Romanesque monument in Southern Sardinia; close to Dolianova is Serdiana with interesting rural architecture.

We now return (20 km. – 12 1/2 mi.) to Cagliari, from which we set out the next morning for Monastir (21 km. – 13 mi. from Cagliari) a pleasant town of Oriental appearance. Then comes Nuraminis, a picturesque country place with a fine 16th century Cathedral.

At the turning to Carter (40 km. – 25 mi.) take State Highway SS 197 through Saaluri and Villamar (important altarpiece in church) to Barumini with remains of a Nuraghic village and the Su Nuraxi Nuraghe, perhaps the most architecturally important in Sardinia. There are other fine nuraghi near Nuragus (70 km. 43 1/4 mi. from Cagliari).

We are now on a lonely mountain road (the peaks of Monte Gennargentu begin to appear to our right, facing us) and we go through Laconi rising on to the plateau at Pranu Guttutorgiu to redescend at Meana, Atzara, with a fine Gothic Parish church in the midst of vineyards and orchards and finally SORGONO.

SORGONO where we may spend the night. There is a fine Baroque church in the town and in the environs the splendid late Gothic church of San Mauro di Sorgono with an elegant rose-window in the facade. The next day we continue north; after 8 km. (5 mi.) we leave Tonara, at the foot of Monte Gennargentu, to our right and climb to Ovodda (20 km. – 12 1/2 mi.) from Sorgono, passing the little church of San Pietro at a height of 800 meters (2604 ft.); at 30 km. (18 3/4 mi.) from Sorgono we leave the road to Fonni on the right to reach Gavoi with its church of San Gavino (16th century) and keep on along the lonely mountain road through Orant to descend at 61 km. (38 mi.) from Sorgono on to State Highway SS 129, turning right to reach NUORO.

NUORO after 15 km. (9 1/2mi.) . Here we spend the night. Before leaving we should take a trip of 54 km. (33 3/4 mi.) through the mountains to see the rugged and picturesque little towns of Marmoiada, Orgosolo and Oliena bringing us at the end of the morning to State Highway SS 129 which after 36 km. (233/4 mi.) through La Traversa and Galtelli brings is to OROSEI.

OROSEI with a fine church of Oriental appearance. From Orosci 92 km. (57 1/2 mi.) of beautiful coast road bring us to Olbia, where we started from. To follow this route comfortably, between eight and ten days will be required.

Recommended itineraries in Italy

DOP Products forgeries.

Export is growing for Italian DOP and IGP products, but international forgery is up as well. Balsamic vinegar from Modena is among the top products representing the Italian gastronomic excellency worldwide. As flattering and affirming as is the always growing appreciation of made in Italy products in the world, the data relating to international forgery are extremely worrisome. In the last 10 years the piracy regarding Italian products grew 950%.

At the Italian Ministry of Agriculture in Rome, at a convention dedicated to the national and international protection of DOP and IGP products, the economic data regarding the forgery of the balsamic vinegar from Modena and Reggio Emilia. were presented

The forgery of products, that is, the production of goods packaged and presented in a way that they can be mistaken for the original product, taking advantage of its positive image and market recognition, is a phenomenon which has hit the made-in-Italy brands extensively, in particular the food sector. In addition to creating immediate damage by stealing market share from the original products, this type of piracy also damages the image of the originals and generates a long term damage. In fact, the consumer who is unaware of having purchased a forged product, may believe that the inferior quality of the counterfeit product is actually that of the original one, and may be brought to believe that the value attributed to a specific product is due to advertising hype rather than real quality.

Traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena (ABTM) by Acetaia Daniele Malagoli
Traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena
(ABTM) by Acetaia Daniele Malagoli

The most imitated Italian food products are, in order, the following: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, Balsamic Vinegar, Mortadella, better known as Bologna, Gorgonzola and Asiago cheeses. During the meeting in Rome, the Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (Consortium for the Protection of the Balsamic Vinegar from Modena), Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia (Consortium for the Protection of the Balsamic Vinegar from Reggio Emilia), and Consorzio Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Consortium Balsamic Vinegar from Modena) declared zero tolerance for forgery at the conference entitled ‘La tutela delle denominazioni DOP and IGP a livello nazionale e internazionale: il caso del balsamico a confronto con altre denominazioni’ (The protection of the DOP and IGP denomination at a national and international level: the case of the balsamic compared to other denomination.)

From 2000 to today, the number of forged DOP and IGP products has increased gradually from 108 in 2000 to 175 in 2008, and up to 206 in 2010. At the same time, the value of the export of DOP and IGP products doubled, from €704 million in 2000, to €1,390 million in 2008. Currently, 23% of European Union’s DOP and IGP products come from Italy, and involve over 80,000 enterprises, 75,000 of which are agricultural estates and close to 6,000 are processing factories. The total value of DOP and IGP products made in Italy is €5.4 billion, of which €1.4 billion is generated by export.

Tasting traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena at Acetaia Daniele Malagoli
Tasting traditional balsamic vinegar
from Modena at Acetaia Daniele Malagoli

The forgery of products made in Italy increased 950% in the last 10 years, and the quantity of seized forged products in the same period increased 608%. According to the Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau, a special department of the International Chamber of Commerce – Commercial Crime Services (CCS) in London, England, forged products represent less than 10% of the world commerce, for a value of over $600 billion. On its part, the European Commission confirms that the problem of product piracy is increasing and dangerous for the economy.

Variations in consumption of specific products nationally though, cannot be attributed exclusively to the thriving of the parallel market of forged goods. Among the factors affecting the rise and fall in the use of certain products are the progressive aging of the population and the food preferences of the immigrants. In fact, due to longer life expectancy and the progressive decrease in birth rate, the Italian senior population is expected to grow from 19.5% in 2009, to 34% in 2050, while the non-native population, which accounts today for 7.1% of the total, in 2050 is expected to be around 17.2%. Another factor which contributes to the changing trend is the shifting in the typical family structure. In 1978, the couples with children at home accounted for the 60% of the total, while today the number is under 40%. In the same period, the number of singles living alone increased from 8.5% to 26.4% of the general population.

Source: Denis Pantini – Nomisma
Integrated with data researched by Loris Scagliarini


Sardinia Bottarga

Once known as the poor man’s caviar, the bottarga is the salted, pressed and dried roe of either the tonno (tuna bottarga) or mugine (gray mullet bottarga). It is a specialty that comes from both Sardinia and Sicily. The long, fat roe sack is salted and massaged by hand, over several weeks, to eliminate air pockets. The roe is then pressed using wooden planks, and then it is put under stone or marble weights. It is then sun dried for a couple of months.

While someone thinks that the practice of preserving the tuna or mullet roe comes from the Byzantines, the practice actually goes farther back to ancient, possibly even pre-historic times. The same process to make bottarga is also used in Turkey, Egypt, and even in coastal areas of Asia.

Bottarga di Muggine (Grey Mullet Roe) – From Cabras – whole

by Sapori del Salento
This dried salted roe bottarga made by the Manca brothers is, without any doubt, is the best bottarga in the world.

Grey mullet is, perhaps more than any other animal, what it eats. In the pond in Cabras, where these grey mullet are raised, the fish eat naturally and healthfully.

The mullet’s eggs, after being extracted, washed and purified, are put under salt and then hung to mature. At the right moment–and the expertise of the Manca brothers is put to good use in determining exactly when that is–the dried and salted eggs that make bottarga are pressed and sent for distribution

The Arabs, during their domination, introduced in the Sardinian cuisine the bottarga, the dried salted eggs of the Mullet.

Bottarga from Sardinia is on sale at:

Bottarga di Tonno (Tuna Roe) from Erice by Sapori del Salento

Vincenzo Macro’, from the fish preserving company Tre Torri, is among the few people able to procure a part of the supply of the local tuna, fished in the nearby island of Favignana, from the demands of the Japanese and American markets. This way he manages to offer a bottarga (dried and salted roe) made from local tuna eggs, when the majority of the ones on the market are obtained from Atlantic tuna.

The term bottarga, from the Arab bot-ah-rik, means “raw fish eggs” or “uovo di tonno” (tuna egg) as it is known in Italian.

The whole egg sacs are properly washed and salted, and then put to dry in the sun. Nothing is simpler than this food so it depends upon top-quality fish eggs. The final product’s taste and quality depends upon the balance in the salting process and the drying, which must be done very gently to avoid oversalting and dessication. Easy to say, very hard to do. A pinch of salt less than necessary, and the precious sac rots; a day longer in the sun, and it dries up.

Dried tuna roe has a flavor that is stronger than grey mullet roe, but it’s just as adaptable. It can be eaten very simply with bread, after being sliced in thin shreds and left to soften in olive oil for at least half an hour, or in the classic Sardinian pasta dish Spaghetti Con La Bottarga (always add the bottarga at the end on the dish, not in the pan), or in fancier combinations. It is always delicious on omelets, rice, and mashed potatoes.

Bottarga from Sicily is on sale at:

Costa Rei the pearl of southern-east Sardinia


Author: Luca Frau

Costa Rei is a tourist resort of the Muravera municipality in the southern-east Sardinia. It was founded at the end of seventies by a group of foreign contractors and, over the years, has become famous thank to its gorgeous coastline and to the pureness of its seas.

Costa Rei has one of the longer sandy beach of the whole southern Sardinia (about 8 kilometres). Thanks to this feature it is never overcrowded also during the high summer season. The sea is really impressive for its transparency and for the colors changing from sky blue to dark blue. The sea water slopes down gently and allows to the children to have a bath in complete safety.

The surroundings are characterized by a lush nature with its typical Mediterranean features. The Mediterranean bushes offer colors and perfumes very intense creating a suggestive ambience ideal for a nature holiday.

This territory preserves traces of a very ancient past dating back to the Nuragic era. The natural environment is the perfect habitat for genuine vegetables and fruits cultivations. Small farms produce tasty cheeses, fragrant honeys and liqueurs made with natural berries. The wine tradition is mostly based on cannonau grapes that find here the perfect environment for a quality wine making. The features of the red wine obtained by cannonau grapes are a intense perfume and a generous alcohol content.

The typical cuisine is based on genuine products and on fresh fish reared or caught locally. The holiday farms and the restaurants prepare the traditional recipes or tasty mixed grills with meat or fish served with the typical Sardinian wines.

On top Costa Rei offers the possibility to practice several sport activities according to the individual preferences. The sea sports such as windsurfing, canoeing, kite surfing and snorkelling allow to enjoy the beauty of the coast. Other sports such as mountain biking, trekking and horse back excursions are perfect to appreciate the surrounding nature.

Visitors may find locally all the main services, shops and restaurants. This feature helps to ensure a comfortable and relaxing stay and makes Costa Rei the right place also for a stay without a car.

Where to stay in Costa Rei

There are hotels  and villas available, check them out and make a reservation here.


A Quick Tour Of Italy – Southern Sardinia


Author: Levi Reiss

If you are hankering for a European tour, why not consider the island of Sardinia, a region of southern Italy? Depending on your specific interests, this beautiful area can be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. Some parts of the island remain undiscovered by tourists, while others are jet-setter favorites and priced accordingly. This article presents southern Sardinia. Companion articles present northern Sardinia and central Sardinia.

We’ll start our tour of southern Sardinia at its capital and largest city. Cagliari has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The old city, called the Castle, lies on a hilltop and offers an excellent view of the Gulf of Cagliari. The old white limestone city walls are mostly intact. Look for two Thirteenth Century white limestone towers, the St. Pancras Tower and the Elephant Tower. D.H. Lawrence, who wrote Sea and Sardinia and Lady Chatterly’s Lover compared Cagliari to a “white Jerusalem”.

You will find the fairly well preserved Second Century Roman Amphitheatre, an aqueduct, ancient cisterns, and the ruins of a small temple. Summers the amphitheatre hosts open-air concerts, operas, and concerts. The Archeological Museum located in a Fourteenth Century castle contains many artifacts coming from Nuraghe, unique Sardinian stone structures. The nearby the Poetto beach is a whopping 8 miles (13 kilometers) long.

Pula is known for its lovely beaches, bays, and coves. Admire the flocks of flamingos in the marshes. Nearby lies the Phoenician site of Nora, perhaps Sardinia’s oldest city. Ongoing excavations have uncovered many ruins from ancient Carthage and Rome.

In early May Nora and Cagliari host perhaps the greatest and most colorful religious procession in the world, the Festa di Sant’Efisio, honoring a martyr beheaded by a Roman soldier in 303 in Nora. According to popular belief this Saint’s intervention stopped a deadly Seventeenth Century plague. In gratitude thousands of traditionally costumed marchers transport his statue back and forth from a Cagliari church to one in Nora. The festivities end with a torchlight parade.

What about food? Despite its magnificent coastline, native Sardinians don’t seem to go very much for fish and seafood. However, if you are on or near the coast you can get fish and seafood. Look for burrida, a delicious fish soup sometimes based on shark. A more familiar and often expensive specialty is lobster, some of the best in Italy. Carignano del Sulcis DOC is produced in the southwestern tip of Sardinia mostly from the red Carignano grape.

About the author:

Once upon a time Levi Reiss wrote ten computer and Internet books either alone or with a co-author. And yet, he really prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right food and friends. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what he wants, in moderation. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website which focuses on local wine and food.