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If you’re looking for an idyllic getaway in Italy away from the traditional tourist sights and crowds then look to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.
Sardinia is the sort of place where it’s easy to get off the beaten track. This is mainly because there isn’t a track there to start with. Instead, you will be soothed by the soft, white sand beaches with crystal-clear water and wowed by the ancient archaeological sites and rock formations along the rugged coastline.
Whether you choose to indulge in the bustling resort towns, get a taste of the local culture or explore the surrounding islands you will never forget your stay in Sardinia.
Wander Amongst the Markets
If you’re looking to lose yourself in the local culture, a proven way to do this is at the markets. They’re cute, cheap, and full of artisan goodies – and they’re a great way to meet your neighbours. Sit down for a cappuccino whilst you wait for little old Inéz to finish sewing you up a bag. Or relax in the shade of an orange tree whilst the young man next door hands out freshly picked fruit.
Amble Through the Local Towns
The only way to really lose yourself in Sardinian culture is to experience all the rumours and myths for yourself. Day trips to other towns are a sure way to see the island for what it truly is – a beautiful, magical place, filled with natural beauty and wonder.
Here are some of the best towns to visit in Sardinia:
Home to the incredible Lu Brandali, Olbia is a place thick with history. The area seems deserted at first, but as you walk down the sun-bleached drive, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a stone village, tombs and a funerary circle. The lack of tourists makes the place feel even more sacred, transporting you to the XIV Century BC.
The main gateway to the granite islands of Archipelago di La Maddalena, Palau is the perfect place to spend a few hours wandering through the backstreets. The most beautiful bright pink and pale orange houses are in this area. This results in a perfect backdrop for your morning coffee.
The best thing about this place is its incredible rock formations, so flawlessly carved by the elements that they appear to be coming to life. The area is famous for its old lighthouse, a strange well-like structure located about 10 feet from said lighthouse, and some very abandoned buildings. This all overlooks the most gorgeous turquoise ocean, clinging onto the stunning rock formations.
Lose Yourself On An Uninhabited Island
Arguably the best thing about Sardinia is its islands – people from all over the world come to hire a speedboat, yacht or tour boat to visit its archipelago. Out of all the islands in Sardinia, your absolute favourites are going to be:
This teeny-tiny island is in the far north of Sardinia. It has been uninhabited since 1969 when the last lighthouse keeper was finally transferred – meaning that if you’re lucky, you’ll get it all to yourself. The granite rocks look like twisted gods, curling and piling up towards the sky. And the sunsets are undeniably some of the best in the world.
A gorgeous island best known for its Spiaggia Rosa (pink beach). The sand has a unique pink blush to it, caused by a microorganism that lives on seagrass. It is a seductively beautiful place and was famously featured in Antonioni’s film Il Deserto Rosso.
The island is guarded by a 79-year-old man called Mauro, who spends 10 months a year on the island, powering his electricity and water with a mere toddler-sized generator and a handful of solar panels.
Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip
Isola Santa Maria
A whimsical little town in Nuoro, the island features competitive views of mountain ranges, along with – unsurprisingly – the sea. The town is swathed in myths and legends, with it being said that the name of this town originally came from a rogue princess.
Porto Della Madonna
A magical sheltered lagoon, you’ll feel just like Ariel as you swim through warm, translucent water, with fish flitting between your fingers. It truly is a storybook place, where everything is beautiful and basked in a gorgeous orange light.
Geologically connected to the pink granite rockscapes of Gallura in the northeast of Sardinia, La Maddalena is rendered the place of dreams. Originally inhabited by Corsican shepherds, followed by Napoleon and later the US Navy, the town has grown to become large, lively, and deeply welcoming – and the sort of place you lust to return to for years following.
Framed by olive trees and rugged granite, the island is entirely uninhabited. The third largest island in the Arcipelago Di la Madonna is surrounded by the most beautiful, untouched waters, just begging for you to dive in.
Explore the Natural World of Sardinia
Whilst a large part of Sardinian culture is its towns and markets, you cannot miss out on exploring the natural world. Wander out of your town and meander through crevices of rocks that look like solidified lava. Find yourself mirrored in smoother versions of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon and discover hidden caves and crevices. You will emerge with an understanding of why people fell in love with this island in the first place.
Sardinia is absolutely one of the most divine places in the world. It is unassuming and has the typical charm of a European city, just without pretension.
Sit back and listen to the symphony of everyday local life. This includes small owls and even smaller songbirds and the meows of gluttonous cats. You’ll feel a million miles away from everywhere else on Earth as you swim in the gorgeous water.
The ocean is entirely clear and glowing a vibrant blue-green as the sun reflects little rainbows into its depths. Large silvery turquoise fish will glitter around your ankles and swim through your open hands. And the sand glitters like broken crystal.
Perhaps you will want to start writing that novel you sit in the sun with some San Pellegrino. Or book yourself onto a yoga-cum-meditation-cum-technology detox, or even do a million different watersports. Whatever it is, I can bet that you will find it in this fairytale of a place.
Author Bio: Amy Aed is a freelance adventurer who loves to write raw, off-the-beaten-track guides to gorgeous places.
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