Sardinia (Sardegna, in Italian) is Italy’s second largest island after Sicily. And just as Sicily, it offers pristine beaches and crystal clear waters, archeological sites and lively communities offering a variety of local feasts, festivals and celebrations -religious and not- all year around.
When staying in Sardinia you can easily combine relaxation and folklore. Its three international airports and regular ferries from the mainland make it a very accessible destination.
Its visitors compare the sublime beaches of this island washed by waters of all shades of blue with the ones if the Caribbean. A perfect example is Porto Istana, near Olbia. Comprised of four beaches separated from each other by small rocky trails, its fine white sands and the shallow, crystal-clear waters are particularly suitable for family with children. Spiaggia del Principe, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia, is a corner of paradise where Prince Aga Khan used to swim – hence its name – its shores lapped by waters of all shades of turquoise, cobalt and cerulean.
But once you move inland, away from the glamour and the crowds, you will find a more authentic side, where traditions and customs are still very much alive within the local communities.
Over the centuries, Sardinia survived invasions by the Byzantines, the Phoenicians, the Arabs, the Carthaginians, and obviously the Romans. Later the island went under Spanish rule. Each domination left its mark in the language (a version of Catalan is still spoken in the city of Alghero) architecture and customs of the island. Besides very well preserved archaeological sites, many villages take great pride in maintaining traditions and customs stemming from these multilayered cultures. These festivals are colorful, loud, solemn, powerful, held high in the mountains or close to the sea. The Ardia di San Costantino is one of them. This most picturesque and fascinating event - part religious event part horse race – is held in the village of Sedilo on the 6th and 7th of July of each year. Here, skilled horsemen ride recklessly around the church of San Costantino, re-enacting the victory of Emperor Constantine, or “Costantino il Grande”, over his rival Maxentius in the year 312 in Rome.
If you are looking for tradition, culture, fun, sea and sunshine Sardinia is your choice destination.
Nicoletta Lucia Paganucci
Cultural Italy Blogger