Offering sweeping white beaches, kaleidoscopic history and a unique recipe collection, holidays to Sardinia add their own colour to the green, white and red of the Italian flag.
Italy with a twist
If you’ve never been to Sardinia before, you might expect the island to be a condensed carbon copy of the Italian mainland. But you’d be wrong. The differences start with the language. Sardinian or Sardo is as commonly spoken as Italian here.
Sardinia’s architectural offerings are different to the rest of Italy, too. This is because the island was once the natural pit stop for empires journeying through the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians, Vandals and Byzantines all left their mark on the place. But the influence that’s most obvious is the Spanish one. Alghero was colonised by the Spanish Catalans for hundreds of years. The town’s street signs are still written in Catalan and the design of the cathedral shouts about its Catalan roots.
Another thing that really sets Sardinia apart from the boot is its beaches. The island’s north coast alone is scalloped with 80 coves. And from Olbia, you can easily reach the seductive Emerald Coast. The Caribbean-like beaches here are some of the best-looking in Europe. Meanwhile, across to the west, the fishing village of Isola Rossa lays claim to its own standout arc of sand. The water here is gin-clear, too, which makes it a great place to snorkel.
What Sardinia does have in common with its Italian neighbours is its passion for food and wine. The island’s cookbook-worthy dishes include roast suckling pig and myrtle-stuffed wild boar.
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There’s a reason this stretch of shore is named after a gemstone. Sardinia boasts some of Europe’s most sought-after beaches, and around Olbia you get the best of a good bunch. With hourglass-fine sand and sparkling see-through waters, they rival those in the Caribbean.
As Italy’s most westerly point, Alghero has strong ties with neighbouring Catalonia – the region of Spain that’s home to Barcelona. It spent several centuries under Catalan rule and, to this day, local residents still consider themselves more Catalan than Italian. They nickname the city Barcelonetta – AKA little Barcelona – and even speak the Catalan dialect.
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