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The Italian Island of Sardinia


Non Potho Reposare - una canzone popolare sarda cantata da una delle più belle voci della musica italiana - Andrea Parodi di Tazenda

Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian) is the second largest island of Italy.  Sicily is the largest.  

Sardinia has a very interesting flag.  It consists of the Cross of Saint George - la Croce di San Giorgio - on a white background and the heads of four Moors. 
The flag is named - I Quattro Mori (The Four Moors). 


Sardegna lies in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, just south of the French island Corsica. 
You can see the Corsican coastline from some parts of northern Sardinia. 

Below is a satellite picture of Sardinia.  The southern part of Corsica can also be seen in the picture.


The narrow channel of sea that separates Sardinia and Corsica is called le Bocche di Bonifacio and it is famous for being extremely rough with very rocky and dangerous parts.  Many boats have sunk making the short journey between the two islands. 

The French writer
Maupassant wrote a story in the 19th century called Une Vendetta and it opens with a vivid description of the rough waters and coastlines of Bonifacio.


The capital city of Sardinia is Cagliari, in the south.  The official language of Sardinia is Italian but most of the island also speaks the Sardinian language called sardo.  Il sardo varies according to the area of Sardinia.  

I nuraghi are mysterious, ancient, stone buildings that look similar to towers and they can be seen throughout Sardinia.  They were constructed several thousand years ago but nobody can be certain about the purpose of un nuraghe. Some of the structures have walls around them and seem similar to castles.  In some cases, there are the ruins of clusters of buildings known as un villaggio nuragico  - a Nuragic village.  There are approximately 7000 nuraghi visible in Sardinia.  These historic structures are a symbol of Sardinia.


In the seaside town of Alghero, in the north-west of Sardinia, the people speak a dialect that belongs just to that town.  It is called algherese and it is very similar to the Catalan language of Spain, having originated with a Catalan colony that settled in the area of Alghero hundreds of years ago. 
That is why the colours of the Alghero flag are the same as the Spanish flag - red and yellow. 
Below is the coat of arms for Alghero where you can see the red and yellow stripes.


The town of Alghero takes its name from the large quantity of seaweed (or algae) that is washed up continually on the coastline. 

The people of Alghero are very proud of their town.  It is a walled, historical town with a port.  Originally, it was just a small fishermen's harbour but now it is one of the largest leisure ports in Italy!   (Below)

porto alghero.jpg

In the old walled town of Alghero, the streets are all cobbled.   In Italian, the old historic town centre is known as il centro storico.  There is a large cathedral called Santa Maria and a very beautiful old church called San Francesco.  There is a cloister attached to the church of San Francesco and, in the summer, it is used for chamber music. 

Below is a photo of a typical, cobbled street in Alghero.

alghero centro storico.jpg

Outside Alghero, in the countryside, there is an area called Valverde.  This is a sacred place for the people of Sardinia.  In Valverde, there is a little chapel and it is visited by thousands of Sardinians and thousands of visitors from abroad every year. 

Inside the chapel, there is a little, terracotta statuette of the Virgin Mary.  She stands just 30.5 cm. high. This statuette is called la Madonna di Valverde.  Sardinians believe that she performs miracles.  Inside the chapel, the walls are decorated with paintings produced by the local people.  Each painting depicts the story of a personal miracle. 

Below is a photo of the statuette wearing a crown and draped with real jewellery and cloth robes, as she is traditionally seen.


Il Sughero
Sardegna produces lots of cork.  This is called il sughero in Italian.  Cork trees can be easily recognised because the bark of the trunk is stripped off, making the trunk look as if it has been 'skinned.' 

It takes about ten years for the bark of the tree to become ready.   It starts to detach itself naturally from the trunk.  Workers strip it off and it is collected in tons! 

All kinds of items are made from Sardinian cork - picture frames, book covers, goblets, trays, ornaments and bottle tops. The bark regrows and in another ten years or so the trunk can be 'skinned' again! 


Il Mare
The sea around the island of Sardegna is very clean and attracts thousands of holiday-makers every summer.  It is well-known that boat-owners sail from all over Europe in order to spend the summer on the Sardinian coast. 

The north-east coast known as la Costa Smeralda (the Emerald Coast) is the most famous for attracting boats during the summer.  It is very expensive to stay there (either in a hotel or afloat on your boat) and many film stars, royal families and other famous people spend their summer holidays in this area.  During the months of July and August, you will always see enormous and beautiful private yachts afloat in the waters of la Costa Smeralda.


If you want to look seriously stylish and important in the summer, then keep your boat moored at the Sardinian port of Porto Cervo on la Costa Smeralda.  It will cost you thousands of euros every day. 
The exact price will depend on the length of your boat. 

Il Corallo
Sardinia produces very beautiful jewellery and statuettes made from red coral - il corallo rosso - taken from the local waters. The Sardinian people believe that red coral brings good luck, so it is a popular choice for gifts at christenings and weddings, etc.  There is a paler colour of Sardinian coral too, but this costs less and is considered inferior.  It is always the red variety that is the first choice for i sardi - the Sardinians. 

The north-west coast is the biggest producer of coral in Sardinia and it is for this reason that the area is called la Riviera del Corallo - the Coral Coast.  The north-west coastal town of Alghero sells very beautiful coral jewellery in shops throughout its historic town centre - il centro storico.   
Sometimes, the town's Christmas tree is even designed
to look like red coral!

corallo albero alghero.jpg

Il Mirto
The flowering plant known as myrtle grows abundantly throughout Sardinia.  Its leaves and berries are used to make a liqueur called mirto.  There are two types of the liqueur: - red (mirto rosso) and white (mirto bianco.

mirto bianco.jpg
mirto rosso.jpg

It is drunk on special occasions or at the end of a large meal.  

In the Sardinian mountains, there is a village called Fonni.  It is the highest town in Sardinia and it is famous for its amazing three-dimensional paintings on the outside of the buildings.  These paintings have been created by the local people and they look very real.  It seems that real people are standing in doorways, looking out of windows or going about their daily chores. 

These wall paintings are considered arte di strada - street art.  They are known as I Murales di Fonni.
Do not be fooled!  All the people in the photos below are painted on the exterior walls of buildings-


This style of painting can be seen in other villages in the area of Fonni, too.


Il Pane
Sardinia produces very good bread.  One of the most famous types is called il pane carasau.  It is really only found in Sardinia!  It is wafer-thin and crunchy.  It can be sprinkled with salt and olive oil and it keeps very well.  It is also very healthy because it is so light.  Usually, you buy it in a round pack and, because there are so many wafer-thin layers, it seems to last for ages!

Originally, it was prepared for shepherds who had to stay away from home for long periods of time, travelling with their flocks.  They required bread that was light to carry and that would last for a long time.
Below is a photo of il pane carasau.


Il Formaggio
Il Pecorino Sardo is a traditional Sardinian cheese made from sheep's milk.  This is the same cheese that is used to make another type of famous Sardinian cheese called casu marzu. 

Casu marzu is the Sardinian way to say formaggio marcio or 'rotten cheese.'   It is considered to be the most dangerous cheese in the world!   Continue reading if you want to know more about it ......

Casu marzu is traditionally made by shepherds (pastori) using sheep's milk.  It is prohibited from being sold in the European Union because of hygiene regulations and health concerns.  Nevertheless, it is a traditional food which is still produced by Sardinian shepherds for their own consumption and for family and friends.  Why is this cheese so rotten and dangerous?  Read on.....

It is made by first producing normal Pecorino (in photo above).  The crust of the Pecorino is then cut open and left for a few weeks to attract cheese flies which lay thousands of eggs inside the exposed cheese.   Thousands of tiny maggots hatch from the eggs and then live inside the cheese.  

casu marzu.jpg

The cheese is eaten whilst the maggots are wriggling inside.  They also jump around!  The cheese becomes very soft and is eaten by scooping it up with a spoon onto bread.  Buon appetito!

Un proverbio italiano:  Tutti i gusti sono gusti.   
This literally means - 'All tastes are tastes.'
(One man's meat is another man's poison.)
( Each to his own.)  (There's no accounting for taste.)

Il Bottone Sardo
A traditional piece of Sardinian jewellery is un bottone sardo.  Its name means 'a Sardinian button.'  It is a gold or silver sphere with a round gem in the middle.   There is also a 'half button' (un mezzo bottone) which is a round shape instead of a full sphere. 

Below: un bottone sardo and un mezzo bottone sardo

bottone sardo..jpg
Bottone sardo.jpg

Il bottone sardo can be worn as a brooch, necklace, earrings, a ring or a bracelet.  Some Sardinians even choose it as a tattoo!  The gem in the centre of the button represents 'an eye' which wards off something called il malocchio, meaning 'the evil eye.'   

Sardinians (and all Italians) are
superstitious (read about Italian superstitions) and they believe that envious people can cause bad luck through their jealous and nasty thoughts.   So, il bottone sardo is worn as an amulet to protect against 'the evil eye.'


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