For us to go to Italy and to penetrate into Italy is like a most fascinating act of self-discovery-back, back down the old ways of time. Strange and wonderful chords awake in us, and vibrate again after many hundreds of years of complete forgetfulness. (D H Lawrence)
Sardinia however is not just a typical city in Italy. Lying comfortably between Europe and Africa, Sardinia remains distinctively unique, highly protective of its own identity, while it manages to brim endlessly with a feeling of allure and intrigue, embellished with a rich history that boasts of Neolithic sites.
Sardinia is largely a mountainous region, with no high peaks, and has a vast and attractive, yet nostalgic, natural environment. It is to no surprise that Sardinia has become a hotspot for tourism. A place worth visiting is Cagliari Castle, where the old and the modern are distinctly intertwined, with its many towers and bastions making it an ideal romantic getaway. The Bastion of Saint Remy, located in the southern side of the fortified cittadella, wonderfully opens on the city with large terraces and a double staircase, facing Piazza Della Costituzione. Other places to visit include the Antas Temple, which stands as a vivid emblem of the Roman domination of the island, Torre delle Stelle, Poetto Beach, and the famous Costa Rei, which lies on Sardinia’s southern coast, approximately 50 kilometres from the capital city of Cagliari.
The sea is a characteristic feature of Sardinia, being the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus). The sea reigns over this region with its mystic properties. Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast), for instance, with Porto Cervo set as its gemstone, amalgamates the history and culture of ancient traditions with a joyful and vivid nightlife. Poetto Beach is 6km long, by far the longest stretch of beach in Italy. It forms an integral part of the life of Cagliaritani. In summer it vibrates with funfairs, restaurants, discos and fun!
Sardinia has been invaded over the past two millennia. The island has certainly been inhabited since prehistoric times. This can be seen all over Sardinia, as is evidenced in the shape of the bizarre Nuraghi, conical stone buildings, rather like beehives. They were mainly constructed between 1500BC and 500BC, both as defensive structures as well as homes. This ancient culture was at its height around 1000 years before the birth of Christ. The fact that 700 of the Nuraghi survive 3000 years later is a strong signal of their power. Relive some of the history on your visit to Sardinia.
Surprisingly, the typical cuisine of Sardinia was in the past not characterised, as would have been expected, by seafood. Given that Sardinia’s coast has always been victim to invasion, the Sardinian people found refuge in the mountains. Therefore, the traditional foods of Sardinia were always more influenced by the land than the sea.
Nowadays however seafood is embraced by Sardinians, who no longer need to fear invaders or pirates. Spicy fish soups called Burrida and Cassola, along with lobsters, crabs, anchovies, squid, clams and fresh sardines go down well with Sardinians.
Typical Sardinian cooking makes use of all kinds of beans: fava, white beans, lupine, chickpeas and lentils. Parsley, leeks, and especially cabbage were grown and used in soups and minestrone. Onions, chicory, spinach and beets were also commonplace on the Sardinian table. The most common fruit was citron. A pasta favourite is called ‘Fregola’ and was probably inspired by the Arabian couscous.
Bread is also a common food in Sardinia. Sardinian bread was mainly composed of hard wheat and barley. Today there are a variety of traditional breads, some made with white flour, others with semolina (hard wheat), breads with bran or sprouts or bread as flat as a sheet of music called Carta di Musica in Italian or Pani Carasau in Sardinian. In Sardinian cities, public ovens were used to bake traditional breads and dishes such as panade, a rustic torta, made of bread dough stuffed with small pieces of stewed lamb or eel seasoned with vegetables. Today, panade is still a popular dish.
Wine, of course, is not to be forgotten. Sardinian wines have been influenced by the continual waves of invaders, with the Spanish leaving the most influential mark. Cannonau is a red wine, a finest choice for serving Sardinian lamb. Monica di Cagliari can be found in dry well-aged varieties, as well as a sweet dessert wine, known as, Liquoroso Dolce. Two well-known Sardinian white wines are Vernaccia di Oristano, a golden dry wine that is drunk with local fish and lobster and Vermentino di Gallura, which is also good with seafood. Spirits include the aperitivo, Liquoroso Secco (made from the Monica grape) and the Myrtle flavored, and Mirto.
A holiday in Sardinia is sure something worth investing in. It is the perfect holiday break to spend with your family, with a significant others, with some friends, or if you’re more of the adventurous type – to explore on a Vespa. Check out Vespsardinia exclusive holiday packages and unbeatable prices!