Less than an hours flight from Rome, this wild, beautiful island has some of Italy’s most beautiful beaches. It is not all lounging in the sun here, though. Tour Italy Now shares our favorite picks for what to do in Northern Sardinia.
Go Back in Time
If you thought the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the city of Pompeii were old, just wait until you visit one of the 8,000 Nuraghe scattered all over the island of Sardinia. Dating back to the Bronze age, these incredible stone structures, called Su Nuraxi in Sardinian dialect, are a fascinating look at another time. Ancient temples, housing complexes, and tombs are all easily accessible from the main road near Arzachena.
Visit Guiseppe Garibaldi’s Home.
Guiseppe Garibaldi is a cherished and very important figure in Italian history. Garibaldi is credited with the unification of Italy and is often called the father of the republic. The Compendio Garibaldino on the island of Caprena includes the home, stables and gardens where Garibaldi lived with his family and beloved horses until his death in 1882.
Go on a Boat Trip
Cruise in the Crystal blue waters to some of the 60 small islands and countless hidden coves near Palau and La Maddelena. You will be served lunch on board your boat and be able see and visit many sites that are not accessible by car or foot.
Feel the Wind in Your Hair
Head to Porto Pollo for a day of sailing, surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. A smattering of casual beach bars lend a very laid back, almost California vibe to this spot.
The largest town in the Maddelena archipelago, this charming town is a perfect day trip. Stroll the street of the old town near the ferry port for tourist trinket shopping, visit the national park for green wild spaces, diving spots and empty beaches and pay a visit to some important Italian history. (See Garibaldi’s Home, above)
La Costa Smerelda
In high summer mingle with glitterati in the very glamorous Porto Cervo. This tiny town set in a cove was created by the Prince Karim Aga Khan in the 1960’s, you can shop the biggest designer labels, count the yachts and super yachts moored in the harbor and play spot the celebrities while you are having a drink at one of the many outdoor cafes.
If the glitz and glamour of Porto Cervo are not your speed, head to Porto Rafael. This casual resort is the epitome of hippy chic. Visit the tiny charming chapel of Santa Rita, admire the white houses built directly into the rocks leading down to the sea. Enjoy, for a small moment, the town’s philosophy of Sognare e Vivere – Dreaming is Living.
Saedas. Saedas are a salty, sweet dessert creation that is made with pasta dough, pecorino cheese that is deep fried and drizzled with local Sardinian homey.
Bottarga. Considered to be the caviar of Sardinia, this dried fish roe is a don’t miss delicacy. Grated onto pasta or thinly sliced with lemon juice, this is a terrific item to take back home with you. You will find it vacuum packed in shops, markets and even the airport.
Pecorino Cheese. The name Pecorino is derived from the Italian word for sheep – pecora - and is the ubiquitous cheese of Sardinia.There are almost double the number of sheep than the permanent human population on the island of Sardinia. This long haired breed produces milk that is then turned into delicious pecorino cheese. Ranging in soft and sweet with the youngest aged about 6 month to sharp and crumbly for a much more mature cheese. At the cheese counter and in local market they are more than happy to let you sample to find the one you like.
Mirto. The berry from the myrtle is used in many ways in Sardinia, the most famous being in the after dinner liqueur called Mirto. Served icy cold, a small, inky purple, glass of this is Sardinia’s answer to limoncello.
Carasau. Sometimes called carta musica this whisper thin, crispy bread is found on every restaurant table. It is particularly delicious when it is served warm and sprinkled with locally produced olive oil.
Put a Cork in it
Centuries old oak trees that grown on the island, produce a bark that is used for so much more than sealing your wine bottle. Cork harvesting is done entirely by hand and takes about 6 months of aging before it is ready for processing. 85% of Italian cork is found in sardinia. Look for magnet, coasters, trivets, even earrings and handbags that make a wonderful, very light, souvenir.