My old colleague and co-writer from the ‘Rough Guide to Sicily’, Rob Andrews, has recently launched a holiday company – Sardinian Experiences – specialising in holidays in Sardinia.
Somehow this island gets overlooked, even by Italophiles, but as Rob’s a real Sardinia expert, I’ve invited him to guest blog and show you the best of the island. Over to you Rob!
Rob Andrews, Sardinian Experiences, writes:
A slice of Italy?
Yes, it’s Italian; no it’s not. Yes but no but…
You’ll certainly find all the essential Italian ingredients – the wafting aromas of coffee and cornetti, kids on Vespas, succulent seafood, flamboyance and charm in equal measures – but Sardinia is different. It’s quieter for a start – no yelling and hooting: Sards are reserved, respectful and scrupulously polite. Drivers stop at red lights and don’t play skittles with pedestrians, nor do they rip up the streets in tuned-up engines. Oh, and the language is different. And it’s cheaper.
As well as a fabulous array of wind-eroded granite peaks, Sardinia has got the deepest canyon in Europe, Su Gorroppu, 400 metres deep. Big birds are a common sight – and don’t forget the sheep, almost three times as many as humans, they say. The walking here is truly inspiring, while bikers flock from far and wide to explore the quiet coastal and mountain roads.
All right, the beaches are quite a pull too. Follow dirt tracks to find the best.
Once heard, never entirely shaken off, the cantores – male voice quartets – are unique. Where do they get those harmonies? The dancing’s pretty fab too: a fast and twitchy affair, with arms pinned to the sides – like Riverdance without the schmaltz.
Sardinia has some of the weirdest festivals in Europe. The aim seems to be to have wilder, more theatrical, more pious and generally more spectacular events than the neighbouring villages and towns. There’s no typical festival, but among the things you might witness are horned and hairy figures, decked in dozens of jangling bells, ridiculous feats of horsemanship and some extremely murky goings-on around Carnival time involving vegetables and legless dolls. You have been warned.
You haven’t heard of them because you don’t get them anywhere else. In brief, they’re prehistoric towers, resembling truncated cones, often found in the most unlikely places, sometimes rambling complexes with corridors and stairs, sometimes solitary towers. And they’re everywhere in Sardinia – around 7,000 discovered ones, and there would have been plenty more once. What are they for? No one really knows. History is inescapable on this island, where every passing civilisation has left its traces, but these ramshackle constructions are especially intriguing – and curiously addictive.
All images by: Rob Andrews
Sardinian Experiences – off-season breaks for outdoor activities, cultural excursions, conversation classes and Shiatsu, based in the river-port of Bosa. Prices including accommodation and transfers start from £570 per person.
Talk to Rob, and just say – Jules Told Me!