When you look at a map of Italy—or even a map of the whole Mediterranean—you’re likely to think Sardinia is a very large island. Perhaps you’ll wonder if you can get about the island in a car and see “everything” in a week or two.
But…here’s an interesting way to view Sardinia on a map:
Oh, so now it’s tiny. Driving the length of Sardinia is like driving from Dallas to Austin, Texas.
So let’s look at the stats. The island of Sardinia rises out of the Mediterranean to make a land mass of 24,100 square kilometres (9,305 square miles), which makes it just a tad larger than the US state of Vermont.
If you were to drive all around the perimeter of the island (likely scaring people who sought privacy on the celebrated beaches) you will have traveled 1,149 miles before encountering your starting place again.
The island of Sardinia is the second largest in the Med, slotted between Sicily and Cyprus.
Sardinia’s estimated population in 2010 was 1,675,411.
Sardinia has the highest percentage of horse riders (29% of the population) in Italy. Sardinian riders are sought after for Siena’s Palio, and are prominent in L’ardia di San Costantino, a horse race run in early July.
So, what’s great about an Island in the Mediterranean?
If you go to Sardinia, you might notice informal informational signs painted haphazardly upon abandoned buildings. “Sardinia is not Italy!” they proclaim.
Islands tend to house unique and isolated groups of adventurers. You and your buddies build a raft and a storm blows you to an island and you’re stuck, until someone builds a bigger, better boat. You weave together a culture that tends to be long-lasting. You build stone towers the folks in the big boats don’t understand and can’t seem to defeat in their endless quest to conquer everything. Several thousand years later, tourists will come to gawk at the utter uniqueness of it all.
It just so happens that on this island the festivals are spectacular recollections of a pagan history, when folks had to listen to the land to make sense out of its bounties. Read about them on this site.
Another carry-over from ancient times is the ability of folks to make their own stuff. Things like hand-made knives that shepherds on the island depend upon are normal fixtures here, not just curiosities for tourists to try to get home with on the flight out. Handycrafts and artisan goods are the subject of the Fall festival called Autunno in Barbagia; expect a heaping helping of cultural surprises and Sardinian music.
Everything is different. Everything is new…and very old. If you’re inquisitive, I think you’ll enjoy a trip to Sardinia. Here’s how to take the ferry to get there, like the locals do. You can also fly, of course.
And remember, it’s usually a big thing to take the road less traveled by, especially if it’s Roman.