5 great reasons to visit Sardinia

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…

San Simplicio, Olbia

San Simplicio, Olbia

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.

Cala Gonone beach

Cala Gonone beach

Luscious landscapes
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.

Wacky music
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.

Weird festivals
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.

Santa Sabina Macomer

Santa Sabina Macomer

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!

  1. You forgot to mention their incredible beaches with pink sand and emerald green water!

    This brings back wonderful memories for me.
    I stayed in Sardinia for the summer of 1990, with friends in the tiny village of Tula. Most of the boys were shepherds who would sleep in caves and come home for a shower and a rest in bed one night in three. People kept asking me to take my sunglasses off because they had never seen blue eyes in real life, only on TV!!! It was a far cry from the rich, touristy yachting lifestyle around the Costa Smeralda etc.

    The entire village brought chairs out of their houses and threw a party in the central piazza, in my honour! They roasted a pig on a spit in the middle of the square. On old lady told me this was a very special occasion for them because I was the first foreigner to visit their village since the 1950’s, when a German lady came: “Some of our boys used to kidnap people so foreigners were scared to come,” she explained. “We’re very excited and glad you chose to come.”

    I am hoping the poverty that led to that past has changed but not the amazing hospitality, fascinating and welcoming culture and outstanding kindness of the people.


    • Yes, let’s not forget the sine qua non of any Italian holiday: delicious food and drink. Once you’ve sampled the exquisite seafood and the island speciality porcheddu arrosto – roast suckling pig – set off by cool Vermentino from the Gallura mountains, well, you can keep your mushy peas!

      Liked by 1 person

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