Where Is Sardinia, Anyways?

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Where is Sardinia?

We Sardinians are very proud people. We are completely, deeply, madly in love with our land to the point that we have a saying according to which when God created paradise he actually ended up creating Sardinia. Yes, it is a gorgeous place and many a visitor find it so. I have heard people stepping to a beach here say “I want to die here” or “I want to stay here forever”. Even my father, who’s not originally Sardinian, once here decided to never leave. You can figure out the story, right?

I love travelling alone
I had to show my Sardinian pride even when I was in Chile!

Do You Know Where Is Sardinia?

The location

But, can you figure out where is Sardinia? Because really, not many people outside the Mediterranean region actually know where is Sardinia. And when they do know where it is, they have no idea what it is all about, what it is like, what we Sardinians look like and how we live. Not even my very Italian grandmother knew it, and according to legend, when she came to Sardinia for her son’s (my dad) wedding, she got off the ferry that brought her here, she looked around and apparently exclaimed: “Oh, so you do have streets!”

That’s where Sardinia is – photo courtesy of http://www.freelargeimages.com/

The language

Yes, Sardinia is an almost mythical land. It is Italy, but not really Italy. Sardinians are Italian on paper, and we do speak Italian, but next to that we also speak Sardinian, which by the way is not a dialect but a fully fledged minority language (don’t ever dare asking a Sardinian if we do have our own dialect!), as well as Catalan (the same they speak in Barcelona) in some areas in the North of the island.

The culture

But we are different. We feel different. So different that when we go to Italy we call it “the continent” (AKA Europe) and as soon as we set foot there we feel like we are in a different country altogether. Mind you, it also goes the other way around: Italians visit Sardinia and they do get the same impression. It’s the same country but the vibes are different, the people are different and the atmosphere is different.

How can anybody ignore Sardinia?

The questions

So, imagine how frustrating it is for us to find out that not everybody in the world knows how amazing Sardinia is, and that in fact the majority of the world doesn’t even have a remote idea of where is Sardinia. Because really, most people don’t know (and why would they? I am terribly ignorant when it comes to the world, a gap in my knowledge that I am filling in through traveling).

When I am traveling and get to meet other people – at times locals, at times other travelers – I normally have conversations where one of the first question we ask each other is “where are you from?” Then I say I am from Italy. This obviously prompts the next question, because well, everyone knows where Italy is, right? That’s when I drop the bomb and say I am from Cagliari, Sardinia. The look I get in return is a blank face, much like this.

Where is Sardinia?
Sardinia? What? Where? – photo courtesy of Brian Talbot (flickr)

Then a number of questions follow: is that near Rome/Milan/Venice? Is that North or South? Next on, the comments on mafia, which by the way is meant to be Sicilian (that means, not Sardinian), but actually exists all over the world (Shantaram and the Bombay mafia docet). Then I eventually hear the “oooooh, beautifuuuuul!” exclamation, which translates into a “I have no idea where that is, but I will say it is beautiful just in case”.

Why not just say it clearly? Why not just simply ask “where is Sardinia” if you don’t know?

A view of Lake Cedrino from Agriturismo Canales
Yes, Sardinia IS beautiful

The anecdotes

However, the funniest “where the hell is Sardinia” anecdote that I have to date is one that dates back to the year 2001, when I was studying at the University of Denver, Colorado. I was sitting at the library, with another Italian friend. We were talking, perhaps a bit too loudly, so a lady nearby could hear us and realize we were not from the US.

She was delighted to hear us speaking Italian, and thus she sat by us. She had been to Italy the previous summer and she was keen to tell us how amazing she thought it is. She then asked us where we were from. My friend replied he’s from Bologna, and it turned out this lovely lady had been there and could even remember some of the landmarks of the city. She then looked at me and when I said I am from Cagliari, Sardinia, she gave me the blank face and said: “ooooh, beautifuuuuul!” – as good measure.

Enjoying paradise at Is Aruttas
Would you dare to say Sardinia is not beautiful?

But I felt like being a bit mean that day (shame on me!). So, although I knew she had no idea where is Sardinia on the map, I asked her if she had been there. She hadn’t, she said. But she quickly added that she and her husband drove by it once. That’s when I returned the blank look. What? I then told her Sardinia is actually an island. That’s when she asked me if I was sure.

In an effort not to explode in laughter, I replied I was quite sure, since I grew up there. That’s when she gave up, but not before adding that in fact they did take the ferry to it one day to visit for a few hours. Pity was, as I explained, that it takes 13 hours to get to Sardinia by ferry from mainland Italy (FYI, nowadays there are faster ferries that take around 4 or 5 hours too), so it would be highly unlikely that she had been there for a few hours. She finally stated she had never been to Sardinia!

People from Latin American countries actually have a better idea of where Sardinia is. No, it is not that they are genius at geography or that they have all travelled there – although maybe some have. It is thanks to their passion (or rather obsession) for football. Even in the most remote places in Honduras, Panama, and Colombia the receptionist of the hostel where I had just arrived happily returned my passport to enumerate the various football players from their home country that in better times (when Cagliari was a team worth following) have played in Sardinia.

What Sardinians wish you to know

What makes me – and many other Sardinians, bloggers or not – a bit sad is that most people visiting Italy for the first time, or returning there, skip Sardinia altogether. They don’t know where it is, they don’t know what’s in it and they don’t think it is worth visiting.

Besides, those who actually know about Sardinia are convinced that it is too expensive to travel here. It really is a pity, because Sardinia has a lot to offer to travelers, whether they are flashpackers who only have a few days to enjoy its beauty, backpackers who have a limited budget, people who can afford a more luxurious vacation, adventure seekers, nature lovers and even family with small children.

Sardinia is special in any season. It is perfect during the summer, when it is possible to enjoy its gorgeous beaches (where access is free, by the way!) and swim in its incredibly crystal clear waters.

Jumping off the cliffs in Cala Mariolu
Swimming in the clear waters of Sardinia is great in the summer

It is great during the spring, fall and winter, when we have lots of wine and food festivals, lots of cultural events like the Sartiglia (the carnival) in Oristano or the Sant’Efisio parade in Cagliari, and it is time to enjoy some of the best hikes in Europe.

Find out more things to do in Sardinia on my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia.”

Sant'Efisio, Sardinia
A lovely couple proudly parades on Sant’Efisio day – photo courtesy of Marcello Treglia

It has beautiful cities and villages.

Bosa, Sardinia
Bosa is one of the prettiest villages in Sardinia

There are unique archeological sites that won’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Its food is delicious. Its people reserved yet warm and welcoming.

Sardinia may have some faults (who doesn’t?) but don’t be surprised in finding that only Sardinians are allowed to talk about them and to criticize Sardinia.

So, now that you know where is Sardinia, don’t make the mistake of not visiting!

Have you been to Sardinia? What did you like the most about it?

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Find out where is Sardinia - via @clautavani

53 thoughts on “Where Is Sardinia, Anyways?”

  1. I have in fact heard of Sardinia but I have not been there. Interesting that the one photo of Bosa reminds me a lot of Dubrovnik Croatia with the beige bricks and red roof tops. Looks beuuuuutiful ! LOL

  2. Wow, the water looks absolutely gorgeous! I had no idea it was so clear. Actually, Sardinia was a popular destination for Danes a few years back, but I haven’t been there myself yet. That needs to change.

  3. Great introduction to a place I’ve heard about but didn’t really know much about.

  4. I have to admit I had no clue where Sardinia was!! but WOW, it is pretty amazing! You mentioned a 13 hr boat ride, but are there other ways to get for an economical price? Looks like a great place for a family holiday!

  5. What an interesting article! Thanks for sharing your culture with us! Sardinia seems like the place I would want to go for a few months to relax, explore the beaches, and learn about the culture. I just added that to my bucket list 😉

  6. Would absolutely love to make it to Sardinia….I wish more people had heard of it! I watched a vlog by Mimi Ikonn on YouTube that added Sardinia to my bucket list.

  7. Sardinia has long been on my list not just for the gorgeous scenery but I have heard to food is out of this world.

  8. There currently are faster rides – around 4 or 5 hours – and Ryanair flies here too

  9. I thought everyone knew of Sardinia and where it was! But I’m totally guilty of visiting Italy and not going there – I think it’s the distance factor. After seeing your photos, I’ll put it on my list, along with Sicily, where my husband’s family came from and Ischia, because of the hot springs. I think I need an Italy Island Hopping Tour.

  10. We have hot springs here in Sardinia too 🙂 and archeological sites, hiking, wine, jazz festivals… come over!

  11. I have been in Sardinia a couple of years ago. Together with two friends we did a small roadtrip and I fall in love with Sardinia. There are so many breathtaking views and the water is so clear. I will definitely go there again one day 🙂

  12. I will be the first to admit that I did not know where Sardinia was. But the love and passion you have for it is contagious, and I would love to visit there one day. It looks very beautiful, I can see why your dad never left!

  13. Such a small island packed with so much charm and incredible beauty. You are so lucky to call it home. I am excited to go there sometime very soon.

  14. I can only imagine all the conversations where you’ve have to explain where you’re from! But it sounds like you’ve handled it well. 🙂 Looks like an incredible place to visit… It’s definitely going on my list!

  15. I used to be surprised that people didn’t know it. Now I think it is funny and I make it a point to describe it, for as marvelous as it is!

  16. Not going to Sardinia when I lived in Europe is one of the things I regret. It is not going anywhere and I will go back to Europe so now you have me thinking of swapping my intended destination of Greece for Sardinia…hmmmm.

  17. We almost included Sardinia in our Europe trip earlier this year, and now I’m feeling terrible we didnt!

  18. I had heard of Sardinia, but admittedly did not know much about it. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and educating me on this lovely place. Looks like another item for the bucket list!

  19. I”ve never been to Sardinia, and, to my shame, I couldn’t EXACTLY locate it on the map until now! So thanks for this post!

  20. Wow I have never heard of Sardinia but it is now on my mind, there are so many wonderful places in this world that we just don’t know about. Will keep it in my mind!

  21. I’ve just got back from Sardinia! I went there for the first time three weeks ago and I’m currently working on a story in episodes. Although I enjoyed my holiday there I think I can easily understand people who prefer other destinations. I met this amazing enthusiasm and pride in all Sardinian things among the people but also a despair, poverty and lack of ideas on how to bring more tourists to the places like small towns in the south. This was a fascinating journey!

  22. Yes – people are desperate, and they are stuck in their ways. Try to explain to them the benefit of working with a blogger, of investing on a good website, on marketing… most businesses don’t even have a facebook page. I am looking forward to reading your stories, make sure you send them to me!

  23. Sardinia has always been on my bucket list, I’ve heard that the beaches are amazing!! Sadly I haven’t been there 🙁

  24. Awesome Festival by Mindvalley is coming to Sardinia! Yippeee and woohoo! Great article Claudia. I get it a little from where I grew up, too. Saskatchewan lol

  25. I have a bit of a cheat since I am Puerto Rican of Corsican roots, so I already knew where Sardinia was

  26. Been to “the continent” Italy and Malta. But, after reading the information you provided, Sardinia is now high on my “To Visit” list. Thanks for sharing the information.

  27. Just back from Sardinia (Villasimius) and intrigued by the fact that you studied at DU. My name is Hélène Grall-Johnson and I have been teaching French at DU for almost 30 years. Wondering if we crossed path when you were there ?
    I just spent a wonderful week there but want to return to explore more…

  28. Hi, really enjoyed your post. My family and I went to Sardinia in summer 2019. It was wonderful. I was ready to move there. I still hope some day to do that. My wife found out about it. She heard about the longevity of the people. It’s a blue zone for longevity. Also the archeological sites. Simply amazing. The crystal clear water, the pink sand beaches. We went sailing one day around the islands nearby. Just loved it. Something else to note. It has no earthquakes. Never has. Just as it is culturally distinct it is geologically distinct. Even though it is so close to mainland Italy with all its fault lines, Sardinia is on a separate tectonic formation. We’re from California so this is something we pay attention to. Fair winds to you on your travels

  29. I forgot to mention the people were so warm and gracious. The culture is relaxed and easy going. The population density is pretty low too. There’s plenty of room to move around and find some solitude if that’s what you’re looking for.

  30. Hello Peter, thank you so much for commenting! Yes, Sardinia is quite desolate compared to most other places in Europe. I find the rest of the world crowded!

  31. Thanks for the invitation. I know we want to return. My wife was going to go again this year and then Covid happened. she was going to do an archeological tour with a local guide, Ariana Mendo. She’s fantastic. We went with her on a short tour when we were there last year.

  32. I have been to Sardinia when on a cruise and I can say it was the most enjoyable country I visited,it was alas to short a stay and I vowed I would come back for a week stay.
    The water is so clear ,the place was wonderful and the people so friendly.

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