Where is Sardinia, anyways?



We Sardinians are very proud people. We are completely, deeply, madly in love with our land to the point that we have a saying according to which when God created paradise he actually ended up creating Sardinia. Yes, it is a gorgeous place and many a visitor find it so. I have heard people stepping to a beach here say “I want to die here” or “I want to stay here forever”. Even my father, who’s not originally Sardinian, once here decided to never leave. You can figure out the story, right?

I love travelling alone

I had to show my Sardinian pride even when I was in Chile!

But, can you figure out where Sardinia is? Because really, not many people outside the Mediterranean region actually know it. And when they do know where it is, they have no idea what it is all about, what it is like, what we Sardinians look like and how we live. Not even my very Italian grandmother knew it, and according to legend, when she came to Sardinia for her son’s (my dad) wedding, she got off the ferry that brought her here, she looked around and apparently exclaimed: “Oh, so you do have streets!”

Sardinia

That’s where Sardinia is – photo courtesy of http://www.freelargeimages.com/

Yes, Sardinia is an almost mythical land. It is Italy, but not really Italy. Sardinians are Italian on paper, and we do speak Italian, but next to that we also speak Sardinian, which by the way is not a dialect but a fully fledged minority language (don’t ever dare asking a Sardinian if we do have our own dialect!), as well as Catalan (the same they speak in Barcelona) in some areas in the North of the island. But we are different. We feel different. So different that when we go to Italy we call it “the continent” (AKA Europe) and as soon as we set foot there we feel like we are in a different country altogether. Mind you, it also goes the other way around: Italians visit Sardinia and they do get the same impression. It’s the same country but the vibes are different, the people are different and the atmosphere is different.

Berchida

How can anybody ignore Sardinia?

So, imagine how frustrating it is for us to find out that not everybody in the world knows how amazing Sardinia is, and that in fact the majority of the world doesn’t even have a remote idea of where it is. Because really, most people don’t know (and why would they? I am terribly ignorant when it comes to the world, a gap in my knowledge that I am filling in through travelling). When I am travelling and get to meet other people – at times locals, at times other travellers – I normally have conversations where one of the first question we ask each other is “where are you from?” Then I say I am from Italy. This obviously prompts the next question, because well, everyone knows where Italy is, right? That’s when I drop the bomb and say I am from Cagliari, Sardinia. The look I get in return is a blank face, much like this

If You're Not Confused

Sardinia? What? Where? – photo courtesy of Brian Talbot (flickr)

 

Then a number of questions follow: is that near Rome/Milan/Venice? Is that North or South? Next on, the comments on mafia, which by the way is meant to be Sicilian (that means, not Sardinian), but actually exists all over the world (Shantaram and the Bombay mafia docet). Then I eventually hear the “oooooh, beautifuuuuul!” exclamation, which translates into a “I have no idea where that is, but I will say it is beautiful just in case”.

A view of Lake Cedrino from Agriturismo Canales

Yes, Sardinia IS beautiful

Where is Sardinia, anyways?

However, the funniest “where the hell is Sardinia” anecdote that I have to date is one that dates back to the year 2001, when I was studying at the University of Denver, Colorado. I was sitting at the library, with another Italian friend. We were talking, perhaps a bit too loudly, so a lady nearby could hear us and realise we were not from the US. She was delighted to hear us speaking Italian, and thus she sat by us. She had been to Italy the previous summer and she was keen to tell us how amazing she thought it is. She then asked us where we were from. My friend replied he’s from Bologna, and it turned out this lovely lady had been there and could even remember some of the landmarks of the city. She then looked at me and when I said I am from Cagliari, Sardinia, she gave me the blank face and said: “ooooh, beautifuuuuul!” – as good measure.

Enjoying paradise at Is Aruttas

Would you dare to say Sardinia is not beautiful?

But I felt like being a bit mean that day (shame on me!). So, although I knew she had no idea where Sardinia was on the map, I asked her if she had been there. She hadn’t, she said. But she quickly added that she and her husband drove by it once. That’s when I returned the blank look. What? I then told her Sardinia is actually an island. That’s when she asked me if I was sure. In an effort not to explode in laughter, I replied I was quite sure, since I grew up there. That’s when she gave up, but not before adding that in fact they did take the ferry to it one day to visit for a few hours. Pity was, as I explained, that it takes 13 hours to get to Sardinia by ferry from mainland Italy (FYI, nowadays there are faster ferries that take around 4 or 5 hours too), so it would be highly unlikely that she had been there for a few hours. She finally stated she had never been to Sardinia!

People from Latin American countries actually have a better idea of where Sardinia is. No, it is not that they are genious at geography or that they have all travelled there – although maybe some have. It is thanks to their passion (or rather obsession) for football. Even in the most remote places in Honduras, Panama, and Colombia the receptionist of the hostel where I had just arrived happily returned my passport to enumerate the various football players from their home country that in better times (when Cagliari was a team worth following) have played in Sardinia.

What’s the big deal then?

What makes me – and many other Sardinians, bloggers or not – a bit sad is that most people visiting Italy for the first time, or returning there, skip Sardinia altogether. They don’t know where it is, they don’t know what’s in it and they don’t think it is worth visiting. Besides, those who actually know about Sardinia are convinced that it is too expensive to travel here. It really is a pity, because Sardinia has a lot to offer to travellers, whether they are flashpackers who only have a few days to enjoy its beauty, backpackers who have a limited budget, people who can afford a more luxurious vacation, adventure seekers, nature lovers and even family with small children.

Sardinia is special in any season. It is perfect during the summer, when it is possible to enjoy its gorgeous beaches (where access is free, by the way!) and swim in its incredibly crystal clear waters.

Jumping off the cliffs in Cala Mariolu

Swimming in the clear waters of Sardinia is great in the summer

It is great during the spring, fall and winter, when we have lots of wine and food festivals, lots of cultural events like the Sartiglia (the carnival) in Oristano or the Sant’Efisio parade in Cagliari, and it is time to enjoy some of the best hikes in Europe.

Find out more things to do in Sardinia off season on my post “The island of wonders.”

Sant'Efisio, Sardinia

A lovely couple proudly parades on Sant’Efisio day – photo courtesy of Marcello Treglia

It has beautiful cities and villages.

Cagliari Castello, Sardinia

Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is full of charme

Bosa, Sardinia

Bosa is one of the prettiest villages in Sardinia

There are unique archeological sites that won’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Barumini

Nuraghe archeological sites such as that of Barumini are unique to Sardinia

Its food is delicious. Its people reserved yet warm and welcoming.

Sardinia may have some faults (who doesn’t?) but don’t be surprised in finding that only Sardinians are allowed to talk about them and to criticise Sardinia.

So, now that you know where Sardinia is, don’t make the mistake of not visiting!

Have you been to Sardinia? What did you like the most about it?


 


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37 Comments

  • Mary Calculated Traveller
    1 August 2015 at 13:40

    I have in fact heard of Sardinia but I have not been there. Interesting that the one photo of Bosa reminds me a lot of Dubrovnik Croatia with the beige bricks and red roof tops. Looks beuuuuutiful ! LOL

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 August 2015 at 17:29

      Come to think of it, it does 🙂

  • Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    1 August 2015 at 14:57

    Wow, the water looks absolutely gorgeous! I had no idea it was so clear. Actually, Sardinia was a popular destination for Danes a few years back, but I haven’t been there myself yet. That needs to change.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 August 2015 at 17:30

      I think so too 🙂

  • Beverly Burmeier
    1 August 2015 at 16:49

    Great introduction to a place I’ve heard about but didn’t really know much about.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 August 2015 at 17:30

      It was meant for a laugh 🙂

  • Karilyn
    2 August 2015 at 6:37

    I have to admit I had no clue where Sardinia was!! but WOW, it is pretty amazing! You mentioned a 13 hr boat ride, but are there other ways to get for an economical price? Looks like a great place for a family holiday!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 August 2015 at 17:31

      There currently are faster rides – around 4 or 5 hours – and Ryanair flies here too

  • Anne Klien ( MeAnne)
    2 August 2015 at 11:26

    Never been there but ive heard a lot of beautiful story of Sardinia

  • Natalie - From Tourist 2 Local
    2 August 2015 at 13:25

    What an interesting article! Thanks for sharing your culture with us! Sardinia seems like the place I would want to go for a few months to relax, explore the beaches, and learn about the culture. I just added that to my bucket list 😉

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 August 2015 at 17:32

      Stay tunes for more posts then!

  • Bethany Dickey
    2 August 2015 at 16:53

    Would absolutely love to make it to Sardinia….I wish more people had heard of it! I watched a vlog by Mimi Ikonn on YouTube that added Sardinia to my bucket list.

  • Brianna
    2 August 2015 at 17:06

    Sardinia has long been on my list not just for the gorgeous scenery but I have heard to food is out of this world.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 August 2015 at 17:32

      I would never argue against that

  • Wandering Carol
    2 August 2015 at 18:05

    I thought everyone knew of Sardinia and where it was! But I’m totally guilty of visiting Italy and not going there – I think it’s the distance factor. After seeing your photos, I’ll put it on my list, along with Sicily, where my husband’s family came from and Ischia, because of the hot springs. I think I need an Italy Island Hopping Tour.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 August 2015 at 19:59

      We have hot springs here in Sardinia too 🙂 and archeological sites, hiking, wine, jazz festivals… come over!

  • Tim Kroeger
    3 August 2015 at 3:25

    I have been in Sardinia a couple of years ago. Together with two friends we did a small roadtrip and I fall in love with Sardinia. There are so many breathtaking views and the water is so clear. I will definitely go there again one day 🙂

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      4 August 2015 at 17:09

      This is what I like reading!! You make us all Sardinians very happy 🙂

  • Vicky and Buddy
    3 August 2015 at 6:30

    I will be the first to admit that I did not know where Sardinia was. But the love and passion you have for it is contagious, and I would love to visit there one day. It looks very beautiful, I can see why your dad never left!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      4 August 2015 at 17:10

      Aye, you bet. Once in Sardinia, you can’t help loving it!!

  • Laura Lynch
    5 August 2015 at 23:06

    Such a small island packed with so much charm and incredible beauty. You are so lucky to call it home. I am excited to go there sometime very soon.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 August 2015 at 12:05

      Errrr it is not that small actually!!

  • Casey O'Connell
    6 August 2015 at 5:22

    I can only imagine all the conversations where you’ve have to explain where you’re from! But it sounds like you’ve handled it well. 🙂 Looks like an incredible place to visit… It’s definitely going on my list!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 August 2015 at 12:06

      I used to be surprised that people didn’t know it. Now I think it is funny and I make it a point to describe it, for as marvelous as it is!

  • Tim
    6 August 2015 at 18:22

    Not going to Sardinia when I lived in Europe is one of the things I regret. It is not going anywhere and I will go back to Europe so now you have me thinking of swapping my intended destination of Greece for Sardinia…hmmmm.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      26 August 2015 at 22:21

      You should!!

  • Revati
    7 August 2015 at 16:14

    We almost included Sardinia in our Europe trip earlier this year, and now I’m feeling terrible we didnt!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      26 August 2015 at 22:21

      You MUST feel bad 😉

  • christine
    10 August 2015 at 4:42

    I always wanted to go here, it looks beautiful.

  • Michelle
    11 August 2015 at 3:30

    I had heard of Sardinia, but admittedly did not know much about it. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and educating me on this lovely place. Looks like another item for the bucket list!

  • Olga
    11 August 2015 at 12:10

    I”ve never been to Sardinia, and, to my shame, I couldn’t EXACTLY locate it on the map until now! So thanks for this post!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      26 August 2015 at 22:22

      🙂 hehe

  • Victor
    11 August 2015 at 19:06

    Wow I have never heard of Sardinia but it is now on my mind, there are so many wonderful places in this world that we just don’t know about. Will keep it in my mind!

  • Agata
    24 August 2015 at 13:22

    I’ve just got back from Sardinia! I went there for the first time three weeks ago and I’m currently working on a story in episodes. Although I enjoyed my holiday there I think I can easily understand people who prefer other destinations. I met this amazing enthusiasm and pride in all Sardinian things among the people but also a despair, poverty and lack of ideas on how to bring more tourists to the places like small towns in the south. This was a fascinating journey!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      26 August 2015 at 22:23

      Yes – people are desperate, and they are stuck in their ways. Try to explain to them the benefit of working with a blogger, of investing on a good website, on marketing… most businesses don’t even have a facebook page. I am looking forward to reading your stories, make sure you send them to me!

  • Isuann
    19 November 2015 at 0:24

    Sardinia has always been on my bucket list, I’ve heard that the beaches are amazing!! Sadly I haven’t been there 🙁

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