Sensational Sardinia

If you love mountainous and coastline scenery and good food and wine, the island of Sardinia is definitely one for you to visit.  It was an inaugural visit to Sardinia and I was impressed.

A bit of bandit history. Throughout the island, you will see bandit flags flying. Sheep rustling was common amongst poor shepherds in the mountains, and sheep from neighbouring villages would be stolen. In the 20th century, sheep rustling was being replaced began by kidnapping! This was much more lucrative… They also developed their own laws and traditions. Vendettas were brutal and would last for years.

I would recommend taking a hire car if you want to explore the island, so you can see all the hidden gems.  When planning your trip, take into account how steep and windy the roads are, there aren’t any short drives here.  Plus you will want time to enjoy the magnificent scenery.

Alghero sits on the northwest coast of the island. The city is surrounded by ancient walls and has a vibrant cobblestoned historic centre with Catalan Gothic buildings.

The coastline both north and south of Alghero are stunning. The scenery doesn’t stop and the roads are lined with wonderful wildflowers when I visited in May. A must is a trip south to Bosa, which is dominated by Castello dei Malaspina, colourful houses and sits on the Temo River. And to Capo Caccia in the north which gives your wonderful views back to Alghero. Head further north to Stintinoto visit one of the wonderful beaches.

Oristano
is a quaint town on the western coast of Sardinia. Some interesting churches and an archaeological museum can be found here. A great base to explore this historic area.  The manufacturing of ceramics in Oristano is linked to the geological characteristics of the area. The clay component of the soil has provided the raw material for the production of many forms of pottery from Neolithic times to the present day.

Sardinia has some very interesting archaeological heritage. At the edge of the Sinis peninsular in western Sardinia lies San Giovanni di Sinis. Here you can still see some of the famous fisherman’s huts on the beach. The village church, San Giovanni, along with San Saturnino in Cagliari, are the two oldest in Sardinia from the 5th century. A short distance along the coast is Tharros. The city was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC. Tharros sits on Capo San Marcospit. It is allegedly one of the most interesting ancient sites in the med. To date, only a third has been unearthed.  Is Aruttas beach is worth a visit and check out Cabras which stands on the edge of Sardinia’s largest freshwater lake – 8 square miles. Here, you can witness some amazing bird life, as the lake connects to the sea via a series of canals.  A wonderful peninsula.

It always makes me smile when you use a saying often, then question its origin having known of it for over 40 years. The saying was ‘Spaghetti Western’.  San Salvatore di Cabrasis small town with an underground church from the 6th century and houses that were used for the pilgrims. Sadly, the houses are now only used once a year for a saint’s feast day festival – San Salvatore. The event is marked by a barefoot race, over 1000 take part dressed in white robes. This is to honour the youths who left the village in the Middle Ages to escape the Saracens. However, they returned to save the statue of the saint. And in the 1960s, the town was used to film spaghetti westerns. Apparently, this term was coined by a Spanish journalist Alfonso Sánche, as the majority of the spaghetti western films were directed by Italians.

The Castello district in Sardinia’s capital, Cagliari is the oldest and most impressive part. The ancient medieval city walls are positioned on a hilltop and many of the city gates are still intact. Here you will find the wonderful cathedral, palace and castle amongst others. From Bastione San Remy you can witness views afar including the port and marina. Spend some time wandering in the back streets by Vico VI S. Giacomo. The flowers and plants outside the apartments are spectacular. Some great wine bars around here too. The botanical gardens are worth a visit for 4€ and have a wonderful display of cacti. There is some wonderful architecture too around the rest of the city.

There are some wonderful walks and amazing scenery in the Gennargentu National Park, east Sardinia. The park also hosts the highest mountain, Punta La Marmora and a plethora of flora and fauna.  Santa Maria Navarrese sits just south of the park and is a beautiful place to base yourself. You can walk the coastal path from the town to Pedralonga. Here you can witness the stunning coastline and crystal clear waters along with a few of the local mountain goats! I really don’t feel the photos do the scenery justice.

Sweeping views, crystal clear water, spectacular rock formations and beautiful flora welcomed me at Valle della Luna, Capo Testa. It is most of the most magical places I have come across.  Capo Testa is the farthest point of Northeastern Sardinia, a few km west of Teresa di Gallura. From here you can see the coast of Corsica. The lighthouse represents the western entrance to the Strait of Bonifacio. The Romans extracted large amounts of granite from the area to help build Rome.  It is a captivating place to wander and enjoy the vista. Plenty of hiking trails here too. Definitely a jewel in the crown of Sardinia.

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