Escape to Sardinia

From its life-sustaining diet to diverse topography to its wine, of course, this Italian island offers much to travelers

| by Emily Holowczak

While travelers often revel in the beauty of Sardinia’s beaches and emerald waters, they may also dive into the culture of the region through an array of traditional activities.

The magical landscape of Sardinia has captivated tourists from all over the world for decades. Routinely named one of the most popular travel destinations, the island is home to an opulent culture of eccentricities. From the charming customs of the native peoples to the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, Sardinia evokes a peaceful aura for tourists to escape.

Diverse Topography

As the oldest landmass in Europe, Sardinia is home to archaeological sites that date from be-tween 1900 and 730 BC. There are more than 7,000 stone fortresses peppered throughout the land, the oldest architecture in all of Europe. The island is located about 200 miles west of Italy and 8 miles south of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. Southern terrains are composed of val-leys and flatlands, while vast mountains stretch from north to south along the middle section of the region. The highest point of the province, Punta la Marmora reaches a height of 6,000 feet. The untouched nature of rural expanses lends itself to a wide array of distinctive farming. For example, Sardinia is home to ancient oak groves, the only region in Italy that produces cork. Cork farming is a patient task, as oaks must be at least three decades old before their first har-vest. The area is also home to nearly 4 million sheep, one of the highest densities in the world. A popular biking destination, cycling trips around the island offer visitors a diverse array of challenging routes. From the rugged coast to the glamorous resorts and yacht-studded marinas, Sardinia’s unwavering beauty can be appreciated over and over again. It is no wonder Italian poet and musician Fabrizio De André describes, “Life in Sardinia is maybe the best a man can hope for: twenty-four thousand miles of forests, of countryside, of coasts surrounded by a mi-raculous sea should coincide with what I would recommend the good God to give us as para-dise.”

The Original Blue Zone

Along with its rich history of traditions and quiet ways of life, Sardinia is home to some of the oldest people in the world. According to recent studies, Sardinia’s regions have nearly 10 times as many centenarians per capita than the United States. The statistic made Sardinia the first region to be considered a “Blue Zone,” where inhabitants live an average lifespan longer than those anywhere else in the world. In 2004, researchers found the inhabitants carry a rare ge-netic quirk linked to extraordinary longevity of life. Due to the isolated nature of the region, the M26 marker has largely remained undiluted.

Best Local Restaurants

The Sardinian diet is considered a significant contributing factor to the health and wellness of the region. Whole grains, vegetables, and dairy from sheep and goats make up the majority of Sardinian nutrition, focused on lean, plant-based sustenance and a small proportion of meat. Many local restaurants offer tourists a quintessential Sardinian dining experience. IL BRIGAN-TINO, a casual restaurant in the old town of Cagliari, offers tourists the taste of fresh local cui-sine in a warm setting. Nestled nearer to the Emerald Coast in the hills near Olbia, AGRITUR-ISMO STAZZU LI PALADINI invites guests to enjoy earthy dishes in an old, vintage Italian at-mosphere. Finally, for those looking for the most refined taste in Italian cuisine, FIOR D’ACQUA BY SHERGÀN tops the list for fine dining. The lively restaurant makes its home in Porto Cuervo.

Where to Stay

Sardinia’s diverse landscape offers something for everyone, from beachfront oases to authentic Italian architecture and gardens. FORTE VILLAGE RESORT boasts peaceful gardens along a white sand beach on the south coast of Sardinia. This luxurious resort is comprised of 5 Five-Star hotels, 3 Four-Star hotels, as well as a number of private villas. HOTEL CALA DI VOLPE, lo-cated on the glamorous Costa Smeralda, is uniquely designed as an old fishing village. The re-sort’s creative canopy of archways, porticoes and turrets offer a staggeringly beautiful setting for guests to relax and soak in the culture of the region. Overlooking the Bay of Liscia di Vacca, PITRIZZA HOTEL presents a group of villas located in the midst of rocks and flowers: a dreamy landscape to make the most beautiful memories.

Experience Italian Country Life

While travelers often revel in the beauty of Sardinia’s beaches and emerald waters, they may also dive into the culture of the region through an array of traditional activities. Sheep-farming has always played an essential role in the economy of Sardinia, with agricultural customs being passed down from generation to generation. Travelers can witness these practices first-hand with a trip to a local farm. For the artistically inclined, the region also offers a wide array of opportunities to explore. Cagliari is home to the Castello District, where architectural marvels greet visitors by way of ancient walls and high towers, as well as several remarkable religious and political landmarks. The small town of St. Sperate hosts a park containing the peculiar works of artists Pinuccio Sciola. Fascinating art seemingly awaits around every turn in Sardinia, educating and inspiring visitors of all ages.

Of Course, the Wine

Perhaps the most popular connection travelers associate with Sardinia is the region’s excep-tional taste for wine. Sardinia’s most abundant grapes are Vermentino, Carignano, and Canno-nau. Vermentino di Gallura is the only Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wine of Sardinia, the highest rank of 4-tier wine classification. Other varieties indige-nous to the area include Bovale, Monica, Malvasia, Bianca, Moscato, Nasco and Nuragus. The exotic Mediterranean climate of the island offers prime conditions for growing some of the fin-est grapes in the world. One of the hidden gems is Torbato, a rare, white grape originally from Spain with only about 200 acres of it planted are left in the world. Sardinia certainly offers travelers a treasure-trove of assortments for wine-enthusiasts to indulge.

A Trip of a Lifetime

Ready to experience all that Sardinia has to offer? We’d be surprised if you weren’t. This slice of paradise is unique from anywhere in all of Europe, as well as the Italian mainland. One-of-a-kind experiences await you around every turn, as Sardinia provides your next trip of a lifetime. Italian priest, zoologist and mathematician Francesco Cetti describes the island eloquently, “There is not in Italy what there is in Sardinia, nor in Sardinia what there is in Italy.”

(This story originally appeared in Scene North End magazine in 2020. Content contributor AC-CESS ITALY

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