Sardinia - Italy's unspoilt, multi cultural gem

An ideal climate, gracious people and fine cuisine make Italy a perfect destination for the independent traveller whether their preferences are seeking an active, cultural, historical or indulgent trip.

While we all know about the wonders of Rome, the romantic appeal of Florence and Venice and the culinary delights of Naples, less of us have sampled the beauty, tranquillity and diverse nature of Sardinia. It is the second largest island in the Mediterranean with Sicily being the largest and as a result of its isolation from the rest of Italy it is less dependent on insularity and has conserved its own economy and traditions far more than other regions.

Relentless invasion of Sardinia over the last two millennia has created an interesting array of influences seen in Sardinian food, wine, culture, architecture and archaeology. The invasions have left Sardinia with Roman ruins, Byzantine and Pisan Churches and a hearty and rustic cuisine.

To discover the true character of Sardinia you must explore its atmospheric towns and beautiful coastline. Cagliari is Sardinia's largest town and its capital. It is the perfect starting point for an independent traveller's trip around the island. Situated on the south of the island Cagliari was built on seven hills with the historic Castello district sitting atop one of them, overlooking the port. The working port makes Cagliari a lively and buzzing town. The old city has narrow lanes to explore, and the city walls are flanked by two Pisan towers.

Once you have become acquainted with the capital town you must make a point of visiting one or some of Sardinia's "Nuraghi". These fascinating prehistoric cone shaped buildings are scattered around the island. Of the 700, Nuraghe Su Nuraxi is one of the largest and most inspiring. If you navigation skills are good the Nurague could lead you to "Barbagia", this is Sardinia's mountain region which was used by the Sards as shelter from invaders. It is a charming region with picturesque villages, stunning meadows and forested landscapes.

The archaeological site of Nora is another fascinating place to visit. Baths, theatre and mosaics have been uncovered in this Roman and Carthaginian site. The Sardinian tourist information site offers a useful introduction to the history and culture of the island of Sardinia.

Sardinia's coastal roads follow its beautiful coastline which boasts splendours that are unmatched elsewhere. The white sands and sheer cliffs plunging into crystal clear ocean will captivate all visitors. If you are of an explorative nature you may have the delight of discovering some of Sardinia's beautiful hidden caves and secluded coves. The coastal roads are easily navigable making exploring the coastline by car the easiest option. Sardinia car hire is available in Cagliari's town and at the airport with most large car hire companies having a presence.

Sardinia's glory has been largely unspoilt compared to Italy's main tourist attractions and there is so much on offer on this fascinating island that any holiday in Sardinia can be truly memorable.

About author:

Michael Hanna

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E-mail: samqam@googlemail.com

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