A journey to discover the oldest island in Italy, an authentic paradise rich in resources and cultures, a real history book open to our present. Its original name is Ichnusa and in the old maps it has been represented with coasts more irregular than the current ones, so much so as to be mistaken for the imprint of a shoe, precisely the shoe of God who walked the world, thus giving life to the beautiful island of Sardinia.
The island is known for the beauty of its coastline, the clarity of its sea, so much so as to have beaches called “Little Tahiti” as it seems to have nothing to envy to the beaches illustrated in the catalogs of dream holidays.
Sardinia has always been a region affected by tourism, which has become one of the main sources of sustenance. It could not be otherwise given the natural wealth of the entire island. A confirmation of this are the awards that every year are awarded to the most beautiful beaches of Italy among which Sardinia always enjoys an excellent position.
In fact, it is awarded for the presence of the most beautiful and best cared for coastlines not only from the environmental point of view but also from the point of view of tourism. In the 2014 edition, the environmental guide of Legambiente has awarded 5 awards to the Sardinian coasts. The most important ones are undoubtedly the Gulf of Orosei, the Ogliastra and the Baronia.
For all those who want to enjoy a beautiful sea without having to take a plane to the other side of the world we want to indicate a series of beaches and bays that really deserve a visit.
Awarded as the most beautiful place in Sardinia Posada, which is constantly committed to the protection and enhancement of its territory with projects to protect the environment of the coastal system, could not but deserve recognition of this kind. Thanks to these projects, the sand dunes were renaturated on a front of 8 kilometres, a great result.
How can we not mention Baunei, a town that despite the large number of visitors every year has been able to safeguard with its commitment as many as 40 kilometers of coastline, considered one of the wildest and most fascinating of the entire island, with qualities unique in the Mediterranean. The bays can be reached only by sea or through long, sometimes tiring paths surrounded by the most lush vegetation of the Mediterranean. To embrace these enchanting bays limestone walls, majestic cliffs, canyons and karst valleys.
But not everyone knows that Sardinia is also much more. An island rich in history and traditions, jealously guarded and always active, visibly present in the everyday life of the population with the intention of making them known throughout the world and handing them down from generation to generation.
Part of the culture are undoubtedly the Sardinian jewels. Real works of art, unique pieces of processed filigree or precious red coral.
Buttons, cufflinks, as well as necklaces, brooches and rings are often set in typical Sardinian costumes that are shown off at the time of the celebrations of the most important religious festivals. The Sardinian goldsmith production is one of the most important components of Sardinian craftsmanship. In the jewels are handed down some influences of the past such as Tuscan and Catalan that have led to have jewelry with different characteristics depending on the area of Sardinia in which you are. Sardinian jewellery has always represented a symbol of economic success, often used as a bargaining chip thanks to its value and the good resistance of the material.
The processing of the watermark is particularly suggestive, it is a long and intense path. It is carried out entirely by hand following traditional techniques. There are five phases in total: rolling, drawing, twisting, processing of the watermark and finally polishing.
Coral is also of great importance in the history of craftsmanship in Sardinia. Sardinian coral is characterized by its intense red color and the Italian coral is certainly the most valuable. Especially present in the sea of the Catalan city of Alghero, the fishing of red gold is now subject to strict controls for environmental protection. Only experienced coral reefs are allowed to fish in a period of time from May to October. Once set in precious jewellery, it is used in tradition as an amulet against bad luck. The Coral Museum in Alghero is worth a visit, a real journey into the culture and legends of this precious son of the sea.
Among the most famous celebrations in the world, there is undoubtedly the Carnival of Mamoiada, a small town in Barbagia. His mask, that of “Mamuthone”, is often the object of intercultural exchange with the other masks of the world, also from overseas. The Mamuthones have their faces covered by a black wooden mask with severe and marked features, dressed in dark furs and big bells in order of size on their shoulders. The Issohadores are the men who lead the dance of the first, dressed in a red bodice and white mask.
The parade of the Mamuthones and Issohadores is a real solemn ceremony, tidy and composed. The former, arranged in two parallel rows, dance slowly, curved under the weight of the bells, following the rhythm dictated by the Issohadores.
During the festivities, each village shows off its masks and costumes, all different from each other and with a story to tell. The Sardinian costumes and masks are another great journey not to be missed.
The Sardinian territory is also rich in testimonies of the past, which has always been a field of study for archaeologists and scholars of the subject. There are many sites throughout the territory where archaeological investigations are still in progress and those where you can reconstruct part of the history of this ancient land.
Among the archaeological structures found on the island are the Nuraghi and nuragic villages, the Sacred Wells, the Dolmens and the Menhirs, the Phoenician and Roman sites, the necropolis and the Domus de Janas.
Many theories and interpretations are hypothesized on all these findings. As far as the nuraghi are concerned, it is believed that they were built for purely religious and cultural purposes, while others discuss the fact that they represented real lookouts, which is why many of them were built in high areas of the territories. The largest in Sardinia is now the nuraghic village of Su Nuraxi near Barumini, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Its excellent state of preservation and its complex structure makes it fascinating to the eyes of all. Embraced by a large and labyrinthine village is a huge fortress consisting of several nuragic towers of large stones. All around it narrow lanes, houses at court, wells and cisterns make it understand the importance of this structure in the study of a mysterious history dating back to 3500 years ago.
Another important construction is the Sacred Well. They date back to the Bronze Age and were intended for sacred purposes, specifically the cult of water. One of the most important sacred wells is that of Santa Cristina, which still preserves intact the profile of the temple once located around it. They almost always rose near a spring and represent a great distinctive element of Sardinian megalithicism. They are supposed to have been places of pilgrimage and ceremony and the precision with which they were erected is proof of the considerable importance they assumed for the population.
The Menhirs are instead of monolithic megaliths erected during the Neolithic; sometimes they reached incredible heights and even today you can see the presence. They are found isolated or in straight or circular alignments and represent the male divinity and fertility within the religions of the Neolithic populations. They belong without a shadow of a doubt to the religious and funerary world of the Neolithic.
The necropolises represent another broad chapter in the history of the Sardinian population. They are formed by Domus de Janas, prehistoric sepulchral structures represented by tombs excavated and carved from the rock. Some sites house more than 40, a real world heritage site. In Italian it literally means “House of the Fairies”. These structures characterize all areas of Sardinia and have been found more than 2400, many still to be discovered. They are tunnels dug into the rock often connected to each other, underground necropolis with a common access corridor and an antechamber with a high ceiling.
One of the most impressive to visit is undoubtedly the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju, the largest on the island. Near the city of Alghero, the necropolis includes 38 Domus de Janas arranged in two nuclei of 7 and 32 units. The Domus are decorated with protomes and taurine horns, carved into the walls and pillars with some traces of ochre, the color of the blood of regeneration.
Following particular rites, the bodies were placed in the fetal position and are supposed to have been painted with red ochre, as well as the walls of the tomb itself. Objects of common use and part of the kit were placed at his side as they were thought to be useful to the deceased in his otherworldly life.
It is part of the tradition as well as of the Sardinian handicraft the “resolza” the typical greenhouse knife produced mainly in the villages of Pattada and Arbus.
The exclusivity of the object is the result of an ancient and refined work by hand that leads to the production of very special handles and sharp blades. The Knife Exhibition that takes place every two years in the logudorese is now an established appointment for many fans and curious.
The model from Arburo stands out for its bulging broad-leaf shape; thanks to the handle in mutton horn it enters the category of monolithic.
The Pattadese, on the other hand, can have a handle in mutton or mouflon horn. Once worked, they become real sculptures, the price of which can easily exceed one thousand euros.
It would not be enough an internal book to describe what else hides this ancient land, what traditions are handed down over the years, what cultures and dialects characterize a complex and always united people. All that remains is to discover it for yourself, following a path to your liking that allows us to fully penetrate this great journey, from which we will certainly come out enriched.