These are not
yet 'household' names for an Italian vacation but that should soon change
when Sardinia to those with a quest for fun, fascination and, of course,
the flavours of truly unique Italian cuisine.
the great undiscovered gem of an Italian vacation, " according to Flavia
Jaber, VP of Production Development and Operations. "So many of our clients
have asked us for 'more, more, more' of Italy and we have responded by
introducing the wonders of Sardinia to our friends who love to travel."
Sardinia is a
mere 200 KM from the coastal city of Roma, 300 KM from Napoli - so close,
yet seemingly so far away from the tourist sites of the mainland. (Note:
You can take a one-hour flight but many opt for the leisurely, overnight
16-hour car ferry across the Tyrrhenian Sea from Naples).
island is approximately 250 KM long and about 125 Km wide (at its maximum
point from Porto Torres to Capo Comino).
So of course
you could drive around the island in one long day - but why would you want
This is a slow-paced
island with scenic coastal roads, deserted coves of white sand beaches
and crystal clear water, magnificent and ancient sun-bleaches rock formations
created through years of wind and rain. In other words (in any words!)
Sardinia is an island that entices the visitor to explore its roots in
a relaxed and leisurely fashion. It is mainly Europeans who have discovered
this island - English, French and German tourists use the north coast (Costa
Smeralda) as their personal playground of beaches, boats, swimming, scuba
diving and the occasional au natural sunny coves for all-over sun tanning.
|This is an area
of rugged rocky beauty, private sandy coves, azure blue waters as well
as man-made amenities such as fishing harbours and yachts marinas, residential
villas and luxury hotels, seaside tavernas and five-star dining.
It is the spectacular
scenery - especially at Capo d'Orso and Capo Testa - that has enticed the
tourists to the Costa Smeralda with its luxury resorts and tourist amenities.
Most of the island, however, remains almost oblivious to the tourists of
the north. Mario Delitala, tour guide extraordinaire and Road to Italy's
dedicated representative in Sardinia, is readily available to supply advice
on where to eat and suggestions about what to see. (Road to Italy, though
based in Toronto, has a dozen employees connected with its Rome office.
In other words, when you leave Toronto, they are sending you to the care
of their staff in Italy.)
Mario will also
offer suggestions on where to buy your "must have" souvenirs from any visit
to his island. "The islanders are known for fine handcrafted items, such
as lace-making (especially in the tiny towns of Oliena or Bosa) and you
can find special woven rugs and tapestries of colourful, floral patterns.
(The Sardinian pibbiones rugs are created by embroidering raised patterns
on classic beige fabric.)
for food, well, this is Italy so eat anything. Eat everything. You will
discovery both sweet and savoury dishes that are unique to this island
paradise, not found on the mainland.
|Of course, fish
must be the most popular dish, right? Nope. The traditional feast
for special dinners and celebrations is Porceddu - suckling pig roasted
over an open fire -served on traditional cork plates with myrtle leaves
with plenty of thin, crisp Carasau bread. Of course everyday culinary fare
includes mounds of pasta dishes such as Pane Frattau, a mixture of breads,
percorino cheese, tomato sauce and eggs; Malloreddus - gnocchi with minced
sausage, tomato sauce with a hint of saffron and the hearty Zuppa gallurese
- a mixture of wheat bread, grated perconino cheese and slowly baked in
wood-burning oven. Seafood lovers need not worry - visitors can also order
the zesty Catalan lobster, an antipasti combination of buccinis and arselle
(mollusks and clam) and Burrida, the island specialty of cooked fish marinated
for a day in garlic, parsley, bazelnuts and vinegar.
of Sardinia coexists with the present in the form of some 7,000 round stone
dwellings (nuraghi) scattered throughout the island - a constant reminder
of the Bronze Age (4000 to 2000 BC) warriors and shepherds who populated
this land. These megalithic ruins, especially the ones in the Su Nuraxi
settlement at Barumini, are often in a perfectly preserved state.
Sardinia is the
perfect addition for those who have been to Italy once, twice, or many
times - it is Italy, but different. The island Italians, separated from
their cousins by the sea, have maintained their traditional styles of culture
and cuisine, fishing and sheep-herding, hospitality and charm.
About the Author
- Steve Veal is a professional travel writer currently living in Toronto,