Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia is an island in the Mediterranean and a region of insular Italy. Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea by extension (24,090 km²), after Sicily. Its insularity is attenuated only by its proximity to the island of Corsica (France) from which it is separated by the Bocche di Bonifacio (Gallura). Its strategic position in the center of the western Mediterranean Sea has always favored, since ancient times, the "colonial" relations for commercial and cultural purposes of various populations, from the Phoenicians to the Romans, from Pisa to the Spanish and Piedmontese, and in the last century by economic, military and strategic interests, such as the NATO bases of Santo Stefano and La Maddalena, and the luxurious Costa Smeralda.

Many travelers and writers, including foreigners, have told the story of Sardinia, exalting the beauty of its coasts and described the ruggedness and uncontamination of the interior of the island.

The first archaeological excavations go from Giovanni Spano to Giuseppe Manno, who wrote the first great general history of the island; instead Pasquale Tola publishes important documents of the past, Pietro Martini writes biographies of illustrious Sardinians. Alberto La Marmora traveled the length and breadth of the island, studying it in detail and writing an imposing work in four parts entitled Voyage en Sardaigne, published in Paris and then introduced into European cultured circles. This is the period in which many travelers visit the cities and districts of the island. During the century, Alphonse de Lamartine, Honoré de Balzac, Antonio Bresciani, Emanuel Domenech, Paolo Mantegazza, Gustave Jourdan, to name a few, arrived in Sardinia. In the early 1900s, Sardinian society was admirably described by Enrico Costa, by the poet Sebastiano Satta and by Grazia Deledda, the latter awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1926. In this century, alongside the literary production, the political experience of characters of great value such as Antonio Gramsci and Emilio Lussu.

After the Second World War, figures such as Giuseppe Dessì emerged with his Country of Shadows. Recently, however, the echo that Gavino Ledda's autobiographical novels had in Father Master and Salvatore Satta's Judgment Day was vast, while the work of Sergio Atzeni was contemporary.


Geographic hints

Sardinia, with a total area of 24,100km², is by extension the second largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, and the third largest Italian region after Sicily and Piedmont. It has a maximum length of 270 km between its most extreme points (Punta Falcone in the north and Capo Teulada in the south) and a maximum width of 145 km (from Capo dell'Argentiera in the west to Capo Comino in the east). To the north it is separated from Corsica by the Bocche di Bonifacio, to the west the Sea of Sardinia separates it from the Balearic Islands, to the south the Channel of Sardinia from Tunisia, to the east the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Italian peninsula. Sardinia is predominantly hilly (the hills represent 68% of the territory). The reliefs have a modest height; in fact the highest peak is Punta La Marmora, in the Gennargentu massif. To the south rise the Sulcis and Iglesiente mountains. The largest plain is the Campidano.

The coasts in the northeastern region are high and rocky, in the southwestern area they are sandy and low. The main rivers are the Tirso, which flows into the gulf of Oristano, the Flumendosa in the south-east, the Coghinas in the north and the Cedrino in the centre-east.

There are 1.66 million inhabitants for a population density of 69 inhabitants per km². It is 188km from the coasts of the Italian peninsula, from which it is separated by the Tyrrhenian Sea, while the Sardinia Channel divides it from the Tunisian coasts of the African continent which are located 178km further south, the Bocche di Bonifacio separate it from Corsica and the Sardinian Sea , to the west, from the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It is located between the 41st and 39th parallels, while the 40th divides it almost in half. More than 80% of the territory is mountainous and hilly. 68% is made up of hills and rocky plateaus for a total area of 16,352km². Some of these are very characteristic and are called jars or heels. The average altitude is 334m above sea level. The mountains make up 14% of the territory for a total extension of 3.287km². The mountains of Punta La Marmora, at 1,834m, Bruncu Spina (1829m) and Monte Spada (1595m), located in the Gennargentu massif, as well as Monte Albo and Supramonte, culminate in the center of the island. To the north, Monte Limbara (1.362m), the Monti di Alà (1.090m) and Monte Rasu (1.259m) emerge. In Ogliastra the heels stand out with Punta Seccu 1000m high in the territory of Ulassai. To the south, Monte Serpeddì (1.069m), the Massif dei Sette Fratelli (1.023m), Monte Linas (1.236m) and the Iglesiente and Sulcis mountains which slope down towards the sea at lower altitudes. The flat areas occupy 18% of the territory. In addition to the Campidano, the most extensive plain located in the south and already mentioned, the Nurra plain is relevant, between Sassari and Alghero. The coasts are divided into the gulfs of Asinara to the north, Orosei to the east, Olbia to the north-east, Cagliari to the south and Alghero and Oristano to the west. For a total of 1,897 km, they are high, rocky and with small inlets that become deep in the north-east and wedge themselves in the valleys (rias).


Spoken languages

The most spoken language today is Italian, introduced on the island by law in 1760 by the Savoys. However, historical languages are still spoken such as Sardinian (mainly divided into the two main dialect bands Logudorese and Campidanese, mutually intelligible), Algherese (an archaic variant of Catalan spoken in Alghero), Gallurese and Sassarese (a Corsican spoken transplanted some time ago in northern Sardinia). In the islands of Sant'Antioco and San Pietro, the Ligurian Tabarchino has been spoken for about three centuries. In the urban area of Cagliari, Campidanese has become much Italianised, due to relations with mainland Italy.


Territories and tourist destinations

Tourism represents a fundamental activity in Sardinia, favored and supported by the breathtaking landscapes, the purity of the marine waters and the wide variety of stories and traditions in every point. In 2008, 11,896,674 tourists arrived in Sardinia. Among the most visited places are Gallura and Ogliastra.

Northern Sardinia — Includes Logudoro and Gallura. The most relevant places in this area are the Costa Smeralda, Olbia, Alghero and Sassari. Main economic center of Sardinia, the historic region of Gallura also finds interesting destinations inland. An example of this is Calangianus, the capital of cork.
Eastern Sardinia — Includes Ogliastra, Barbagia and Baronie, characteristic areas of Sardinia. Ogliastra characterizes a mainly summer destination, endowed with wonderful seaside destinations such as Tortolì. The relevant centers are Tortolì, Lanusei, Nuoro, Siniscola, Orosei.
Southern Sardinia — Includes Sulcis, Iglesiente, Campidano di Cagliari, Campidano di Sanluri, Parteolla, Sarrabus-Gerrei, Quirra, Trexenta, Sarcidano and Marmilla. Relevant centres: Cagliari, Iglesias, Carbonia.
Western Sardinia — Includes Campidano di Oristano, Sinis, Montiferru and Planargia. Most important centre: Oristano.


Urban centers

1 Cagliari — Capital of Sardinia. Italian capital of culture in 2015, it is the most important city in Sardinia.
2 Sassari — The second city in Sardinia by extension and inhabitants.
3 Alghero — Important tourist destination and important historical stop in Sardinia, Alghero is the only Sardinian city to have preserved the Catalan language.
4 Calangianus — Town in the center of Gallura, it was chosen as one of the hundred richest and most industrialized cities in Italy. Important from a historical point of view, it is the Capital of Cork.
5 Olbia — Olbia, the historic capital of Gallura, is today the main port of Sardinia.
6 Oristano — Oristano is the mother city of the Giudicato of Arborea, historically important in Sardinia.
7 Nuoro — Nuoro is the main center of the Sardinian hinterland.
8 Tortolì — Tortolì is the main city of Ogliastra, a renowned seaside resort.
9 San Teodoro
10 Iglesias — Capital of the Iglesiente, has a historic center full of ancient churches. It preserves the castle and medieval fortifications.
11 Cuglieri — Municipality of Montiferru, it is the capital of oil and panadas
12 Sedilo - capital of Ardia
13 Mamoiada - Famous for masks
14 Barumini — Famous for the presence of the Su Nuraxi nuragic complex
15 Orroli — Famous for the presence of the nuragic complex of Nuraghe Arrubiu
16 Tuili — The Sardegna in Miniatura theme park is located here
17 Abbasanta — The Losa Nuragic complex is located here
18 Cabras - Famous for the production of wine and for the Giants of Mont'e Prama
19 Borore - Here is the museum of ritual bread
20 Torralba — Torralba offers the famous nuraghe Santu Antine and a beautiful city centre

21 Carbonia


How to get here

By plane
Sardinia is served by three airports located in Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari.

Olbia-Costa Smeralda airport (IATA: OLB) hosts mainly national, European and low-cost traffic. It is located in Olbia, north-east of Sardinia. It has two terminals:
The main terminal, dedicated to passenger flights. Here different companies connect different Italian and European cities. The companies operating at the airport are: Ita Airways with Rome-Fiumicino and Milan-Linate and other scheduled and low-cost airlines including Easyjet, Volotea, Smartwings, Transavia, British Airways, Austrian and many others.
There is also a second terminal, the Eccelsa terminal. Opened in 2009, it is dedicated exclusively to general aviation flights such as private flights, air taxis and helitaxis.
Alghero is home to the Alghero-Fertilia airport (IATA: AHO), which hosts national, seasonal traffic in Europe and mainly low-cost, with the main presence of Ryanair and Ita Airways. In addition to the city, Alghero-Fertilia airport serves the entire north-western area of Sardinia.
Cagliari-Elmas Airport (IATA: CAG) is located in Cagliari and serves the entire southern part of Sardinia with continental flights. Mainly EasyJet, Ita Airways and Ryanair operate there.
On boat
There are six main passenger ports in Sardinia. The Port of Olbia is the main port in Sardinia, the main access to the renowned Costa Smeralda. Near Olbia, in Golfo Aranci, there is another tourist port which works in conjunction with the port of Olbia.

The two ports of Cagliari and Arbatax mainly serve southern Sardinia with continental voyages.

The Port of Porto Torres is a tourist port mainly served by national ferries.

The port of Santa Teresa Gallura is served by a relatively inexpensive car ferry from Bonifacio, Corsica.

From Civitavecchia and Genoa with the Tirrenia ferries

From Civitavecchia with Tirrenia
From Naples with DiMaio Lines.

Orange gulf
From Fiumicino with the Tirrenia ferries
From Civitavecchia and Livorno with Sardinia ferries.

From Genoa with the ferries of the companies Tirrenia, Moby Lines and Grandi Navi Veloci
From Livorno and Piombino with Moby Lines
From Civitavecchia with the ferries of the Snav and Moby Lines companies
From Naples with DiMaio Lines

Porto Torres
From Genoa with the ferries of the companies Tirrenia, Moby Lines and Grandi Navi Veloci

Santa Teresa Gallura
From Bonifacio with the ferries of the Moby Lines and Blue Navy companies.


Getting around

By car
If you land in Alghero, Olbia, Cagliari or in another airport in Sardinia, and you decide to rent a car for your holidays or for work, you can do it in one of the rental companies present in the same airport, such as Only Sardinia Car rental. Typically the rental prices at the airport are higher than those in the city, therefore it is advisable to compare them in advance through the various sites available online.

On the train
Sardinia is crossed by a backbone railway managed by Trenitalia which crosses it from Cagliari to Olbia, touching Oristano and Chilivani. The lines that lead to the Iglesiente (Carbonia and Iglesias) and to Sassari / Porto Torres branch off from this.

Secondary lines with regular frequency are managed by the ARST between Nuoro da Macomer, Alghero and Sassari, Sassari and Nulvi. Other lines have been dedicated to the tourist service (Macomer-Bosa Marina, Cagliari - Mandas - Arbatax, Nulvi - Palau).

By bus
ARST (Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti) is the regional company that manages road and rail transport. The capillarity of the car service makes it the most effective means of public transport to move around the island. ARST S.p.A. represents the largest LPT company in Sardinia and one of the most important at a national level. It operates throughout Sardinia mainly with extra-urban services, as well as with urban services in the cities of Alghero, Carbonia, Iglesias, Macomer and Oristano.

In the Municipalities of Cagliari and Sassari it also manages two light rail lines

Metrocagliari and Metrosassari.

In the railway sector, the LPT offer is present across five lines
Monserrato - Isili
Macomer - Nuoro
Sassari - Alghero
Sassari - Sip,
Sassari - Clouds
The company operates in the tourist railway through the connections of 'Il Trenino Verde della Sardegna'


What to see

Near the inhabited center of Goni, in the Sarrabus-Gerrei area, along the road that leads to Orroli and the Sarcidano, is the archaeological park of Pranu Mutteddu (plain of the myrtle, in Italian). The area, which extends for about 20 hectares, is divided into two parts, in which it is possible to admire, respectively, various burials in the domus de janas (4th millennium BC approximately), on one side, burials in tumulus and menhir (late IV-beginning of the III millennium BC approximately), on the other.

Nuraghe Barumini (Barumini, province of Cagliari)
Nuraghe Cuccurada (Mogoro, province of Oristano)
Nuraghe Palmavera (Alghero, province of Sassari)
Nuraghe Santu Antine (Torralba, province of Sassari)
Nuraghe Su Nuraxi (UNESCO heritage in Barumini, in Medio Campidano)
Well of Santa Cristina (Paulilatino, province of Oristano)
Church of the Holy Trinity of Saccargia
Church of San Pietro di Sorres (Borutta, province of Sassari)
Church of Ardara
Church of San Gavino in Porto Torres

natural areas
Capo Caccia (west of northern Sardinia). At this spur of rock there are the Porto Conte Regional Park and the Capo Caccia-Isola Piana Marine Protected Area.
Grotta Is Zuddas Located in the south-western part of Sardinia, they constitute a splendid underground scenario created by the incessant action of water.

Museum of Mining In this museum it is possible to see machines that were already used in mines at the end of the 1800s or flotation cells still used today in mineral enrichment plants, as well as about 400 m of tunnels which, started in 1934 as a laboratory for students, became a safe air-raid shelter in the last years of the 2nd world war.
Porto Flavia Built in 1924 by excavating the mountain for about 600 metres, the underground complex consists of two superimposed tunnels and a conveyor belt which received the minerals from the underground deposits and then transferred them, with an ingenious mobile arm, to the hold of the cargo ships at anchor.


What to do

Windsurfing, the most famous places are: Porto Pollo, Capo Mannu, Alghero Mugoni, Alghero Lido, Porto Ferro, Coluccia, Platamona, Stintino, Funtana Meiga and Sant'Antioco.


Events and parties

In Maimoiada on January 17 one of the most famous events of Sardinian folklore is held, the carnival in which the disturbing masks of the Mamuthones and Issohadores parade.



The gastronomy of Sardinia is very particular and speaks to us of the different influences it has had in its history and at the same time of its isolation, given that we also find ancient traditions at the table. Speaking of Sardinia it is essential to talk about bread, there are many types. The most famous is pane carasau, a thin and crunchy bread with almost no yeast. It can easily be kept for a long time and is traditionally made by women starting from the dough made into a ball, a ball that is introduced into the oven and swells, to later become a flat circle with a stroke. Carasau bread can be seasoned with olive oil and placed in the oven, taking on all the flavor of the oil. This variant is called pane guttiau. For special occasions, Sardinians have continued to prepare ceremonial breads since the Bronze Age (there are archaeological remains that prove this). The ceremonial loaves are real sculptures, many times with flowers and birds, with eggs on top to make them shiny. They are almost never eaten. The most used are the bread of the spouses in weddings and the Easter bread on Resurrection Sunday.

In Sardinia, sheep and its products are very present in gastronomy. Here the famous pecorino is made, a sheep's milk cheese, which can be more or less aged. The "Fiore Sardo" and the "San Leonardo" are well-known among the seasoned cheeses, with a strong and decisive flavour. Lamb meat is widely cooked throughout Barbagia and the central area of the island.

Another Sardinian dish is fregola. Fregola is a pasta in the shape of small spheres that is toasted in the oven. This gives the dough an exotic and different flavor of the common pasta. It can be cooked with different foods, but perhaps the best is seafood. Obviously, to be consumed, it must be cooked.



Vermentino di Gallura is a delicious fruity DOCG white wine whose vines grow in central and northern Gallura, in addition to this little gem, there are many DOC wines produced in Sardinia: Alghero, Arborea, Cagliari, Campidano di Terralba, Cannonau di Sardegna, Carignano del Sulcis, Girò di Cagliari, Malvasia di Bosa, Mandrolisai, Monica di Sardegna, Moscato di Sardegna, Moscato di Sorso-Sennori, Nasco di Cagliari, Nuragus di Cagliari, Sardegna Semidano, Vermentino di Sardegna, and Vernaccia di Oristano.



Crime in Sardinia is not a problem worthy of excessive consideration, but in any case care must be taken, especially in the most crowded places of the cities, not to suffer pickpocketing and muggings. Sardinia is the only Italian region where there are no venomous snakes.


Physical geography

Sardinia has a total area of 24100 km² and is by extension the second largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily) and the third Italian region, again after Sicily and Piedmont. The length between its most extreme points (Punta Falcone in the north and Capo Teulada in the south) is 270 km, while the width is 145 km (from Capo dell'Argentiera in the west to Capo Comino in the east). The inhabitants are 1 628 384 for a population density of 69 inhabitants per km². It is 188 km (Cape Ferro - Monte Argentario) from the coasts of the Italian peninsula, from which it is separated by the Tyrrhenian Sea, while the Sardinia Channel divides it from the Tunisian coasts of the African continent which are located 178 km further south (Cape Spartivento - Cap Serrat). To the north, for 11 km, the Strait of Bonifacio separates it from Corsica and the Sardinian Sea, to the west, from the Iberian peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It is located between the 41st and 39th parallel north, while the 40th divides it almost in half.



The geological history of Sardinia appears to be clearly separated from that of the Italian peninsula (which was formed in the Cenozoic), being instead linked (together with that of Corsica) to that of continental Europe, of which it was part until the end of the Eocene. It can begin with the so-called Sardinian phase of the Caledonian orogeny at the beginning of the Palaeozoic, in which the first nucleus of the current Sulcis was formed, to then emerge completely, together with Corsica, during the Hercynian orogeny (Carboniferous). Between thirty-five and thirteen million years ago along the coast that goes from Catalonia to Liguria, through the displacements and clashes between the great African, Eurasian and North Atlantic plates, a deep fracture was created from which, about twenty million years ago, the detachment of a micro-plate that included present-day Sardinia and Corsica originated in the north-east.

The two islands reached their current position about six or seven million years ago and the phenomenon of migration was later added to by the opening tension of the Tyrrhenian Sea, which consequently created the eastern conformation between the two islands and the Italian peninsula. Although earthquakes have been documented in the past, Sardinia is considered a non-seismic area and all the municipalities that make it up are classified in seismic zone 4. In fact, there are no faults that could generate major earthquakes on its territory. The only macroseismic resentments belong to tremors that have occurred and may occur in the central and southern Tyrrhenian Sea.


Mountains and hills

More than 80% of the territory is mountainous and hilly; 68% is made up of hills and rocky plateaus for a total area of 16,352 km². Some of these are very characteristic and are called jars or heels. The average altitude is 334 m a.s.l. Mountains make up 14% of the territory for a total extension of 3,287 km².

The mountains of Punta La Marmora (Perdas Crapìas in Sardinian), 1,834 m, Bruncu Spina (1,829 m), Punta Paulinu (1,758 m) and Mount Spada (1,595 m), culminate in the center of the island, located in the Gennargentu, as well as Mount Albo and Supramonte which includes Mount Corrasi di Oliena (1 463 m). To the north, the Limbara mountains (1,362 m), the Alà mountains (1,090 m), the Rasu mountain (1,259 m) emerge. In Ogliastra the heels stand out with Punta Seccu about 1,000 m high in the territory of Ulassai while in Montiferru (which is the largest volcanic massif on the island) rise Monte Urtigu (1,050 m) and Monte Entu (1,024 m ) and in the Marghine the Punta Palai (1 264 m). To the south, Mount Serpeddì (1,069 m), the Massif of Sette Fratelli (1,023 m), Mount Linas (1,236 m), the Iglesiente mountains, which reach 1,091 m with Mount Lisone, and the Sulcis which reach 1116 m with Monte Is Caravius ending up sloping down towards the sea.


Plains, rivers and lakes

The flat areas occupy 18% of the territory (for 4 451 km²); the most extensive plain is the Campidano which separates the central northern reliefs from the Iglesiente mountains, while the Nurra plain is located in the north-western part between Sassari, Alghero and Porto Torres. The most important rivers are the Tirso, the Flumendosa, the Coghinas, the Cedrino, the Temo and the Flumini Mannu. The largest ones are blocked by imposing dams that form large artificial lakes used mainly to irrigate the fields, including the basin of Lake Omodeo, the largest artificial lake in Italy. Then follow the basin of Flumendosa, Coghinas and Posada. The only natural lake is Lake Baratz, located in the southwest part of the territory of Sassari.


Islands and coasts

The coasts are divided into the gulfs of Asinara to the north, Orosei to the east, Olbia to the north-east, Cagliari to the south and Alghero and Oristano to the west. For a total of 1,897 km, they are high, rocky and with small creeks that become deep in the north-east and wedge themselves into valleys (ria). Low and sandy coasts, sometimes marshy, are found in the southern and western areas: these are the coastal ponds, important wetlands from an ecological point of view, the largest of which is that of the Cabras pond and the adjacent marshy areas.

Many islands and islets surround it and among these the largest is the island of Sant'Antioco (109 km²), followed by Asinara (52 km²), the island of San Pietro (50 km²), La Maddalena (20 km²) and Caprera (16 km²). The four extreme points are: Capo Falcone (to the north), Capo Teulada (to the south), Capo Comino (to the east) and Capo dell'Argentiera (to the west).



The Mediterranean climate is typical of Sardinia. Along the coastal areas, where the majority of the population resides, thanks to the presence of the sea, winters are mild, while summers are hot and humid, characterized by considerable ventilation. The sea breezes and the constant ventilation allow it to bear the high summer temperatures which normally exceed 30 °C and even reach 35 °C. In the flat and hilly inland areas, due to the greater distance from the sea, lower winter temperatures and higher summer temperatures are recorded compared to the coastal areas. Overall, the climate is quite mild, but during the year there can be minimum winter values of a few degrees below zero and summer maximum values even above 40 °C.

On the mountain massifs in the winter months it frequently snows and temperatures drop below zero, while in the summer the climate remains cool and it is rarely hot for many consecutive days. Sardinia is also a very windy region: the prevailing winds are the mistral and the west.


Natural environment

The natural landscape of Sardinia alternates mountainous profiles with complex morphology to scrubland and forests, ponds and lagoons, tumultuous streams that form gorges and waterfalls, long sandy beaches and jagged cliffs and overhanging cliffs. The limestone formations make up 10% of its surface and karst phenomena are frequent in the central-eastern and south-western sectors, with the formation of caves, chasms, sinkholes, underground lakes, karst springs, such as those of Su Gologone di Oliena and by Su Marmuri of Ulassai. Noteworthy are the granite rock formations, characterized by jagged pinnacles modeled by the erosion of atmospheric agents, creating singular sculptures scattered throughout the island, such as the Bear of Palau, the Elephant of Castelsardo, the Mushroom of Arzachena, the dykes del Montiferru and sa Conca in Nuoro on Mount Ortobene.

Some of the most important stretches of the coast and large inland territories are under protection as natural parks. This natural heritage integrates with the historical and cultural one, represented by the ancient sites of archaeological interest and the remains of the most recent mining complexes. In order to conserve and enhance this unique heritage, the Autonomous Region has defined with the law n. 31 of 7 June 1989 the protected areas subject to protection. Overall there are: two national parks, two regional parks, 60 nature reserves, 19 natural monuments, 16 areas of significant naturalistic interest, five WWF oases. Since 1985, Sardinia has had its own forestry corps, called the Sardinian Region's Forestry and Environmental Surveillance Corps.


Terrestrial fauna

The wildlife heritage includes several examples of species of great interest. The fauna of the higher vertebrates shows analogies and differentiations with respect to that of continental Europe: the analogies are due to the migration during the glaciations or to the introduction by man in the Neolithic or more recent times, while the differentiations are due to the long geographical isolation which has given rise to neo-endemisms at the level of subspecies or, more rarely, of species.

The populations of large herbivorous mammals (deer and mouflon) have undergone a drastic contraction, reaching real emergencies up to the seventies, but in recent decades they have resumed a significant growth thanks to protection actions. The Sardinian wild boar, on the other hand, is widely distributed, as are various species of rodents and lagomorphs. The largest predators are the common Sardinian fox and the rare Sardinian wild cat, which are flanked by small carnivores such as mustelids. Among the mammals, apart from the Sardinian goat, caprine breed, particular curiosity arouses a variant of the domestic donkey, i.e. the white donkey, present only on the island of Asinara (there are about 90 specimens), but also the characteristic Giara pony (Equus caballus Giarae), a species of endemic horse, of uncertain origin or most likely imported by Phoenician or Greek sailors in the 5th-4th century BC.

The interest in the avifauna is divided into three contexts: birds of prey, the avifauna of the wetlands and that of the cliffs. Birds of prey are represented by almost all European species, among which there are some endemic subspecies; two species of vultures have become extinct and a few colonies of griffon vultures survive only in the territories of Bosa and Alghero. Wetland birdlife boasts a long list of species, many threatened by severe habitat shrinkage. The high number of coastal ponds and lagoons (about 12,000 hectares, equal to 10% of the Italian heritage) means that this region has eight Ramsar sites (second place in Italy, after Emilia-Romagna). The symbol of this fauna is the pink flamingo, which forms colonies of thousands of specimens in some ponds.

This species, historically wintering in Sardinian ponds, has also been nesting for several years. Of the 1 897 km of coastline, 76% consists of reefs and a large number of islands and reefs. This is the realm of seabirds, which can form colonies of thousands of individuals. Among the species of greatest interest is the extremely rare Corsican gull. Finally, there are four endemic subspecies of birds which are the finch (f.c. sarda), the great spotted woodpecker (d. m. ssp. harterti), the great tit (P. m. ssp. ecki) and the jay (g.g. ssp ichnusae). The minor terrestrial vertebrates include reptiles and amphibians including many important Tyrrhenian, Sardinian-Corsican or Sardinian endemics; of these, some have a marked and exclusive geographical location.


Earth flora

Although deriving from a common Mediterranean substratum, the flora in Sardinia is characterized by specificity and endemism. The phytoclimatic zones present are limited to the Lauretum and the warm sub-zone of Castanetum, the latter limited to the colder inland and mountainous areas; the forest vegetation is, therefore, largely represented by Mediterranean maquis and evergreen forest and only above 1,000 meters is the frequency of the deciduous species of Castanetum significant.

The prevailing tree species is the holm oak, accompanied and partly replaced by the downy oak in the coldest stations and by the cork oak in the warmest ones. In the cold areas there are also relicts of an ancient Cenozoic flora (yew, holly, trefoil maple). On the top of the metamorphic reliefs of the Paleozoic, at 1,000-1,900 metres, steppes and garrigue develop which can be assimilated to the alpine flora which, in the other regions, occupies altitudes of 2,500-3,500 metres. The forest cover is what remains of intense deforestation that reached its peak in the second half of the 19th century.

The passage of vast territories from the Cassa ademprivile to the state property and, later, to the former EFDRS, has allowed the preservation and slow reconstitution of the residual forest heritage, despite the annual threat of fires. The serious degradation of vast areas exposes the island to desertification, but the forest heritage boasts some peculiarities, such as the Sulcis maquis-forest, considered the largest in Europe, and the state-owned forest of Montes, one of the last primary holm oaks in the Mediterranean. The work of protection and recovery of the residual heritage places Sardinia as the Italian region with the largest forest area, with 1 213 250 hectares of woods (according to data from the National Forestry and Carbon Inventory of the State Forestry Corps, published in May 2007 ). Of great botanical interest, due to their endemisms and rarity, are also the minor floristic associations that inhabit the coastal ponds, sandy coasts and cliffs.


Aquatic flora and fauna

The submerged landscapes are complex and rich in color and variety of fish, sponges and corals and are characterized by the extraordinary clarity of the water; this clarity favors the flourishing of numerous colonies of Posidonia. The unequivocal sign of the presence of Posidonia meadows is the presence of piles of algae which are sometimes found abundantly on the beaches. A particular mention should be made of the monk seal: for a long time persecuted by fishermen and disturbed by holidaymakers, it is a species at high risk of extinction: the last documented reproduction dates back to the early eighties



The Sardinian natural environment is characterized by a high number of endemisms. Some of these are paleoendemisms, i.e. relicts of the ancestral fauna and flora dating back to the Cenozoic before the detachment of the Sardinian-Corsican plate from the European continent; these species, real living fossils, became extinct in continental lands in ancient times while they survived in particular conditions in Sardinia.

Most of the endemic species are instead neoendemisms, produced by a differential evolution starting from the Neozoic or from more recent times, thanks to geographical isolation. There are more than 220 botanical endemisms ascertained and they represent about 10% of all Sardinian flora. Some of these are real rarities also due to the low number of specimens and the very limited extension of the range, in some cases reduced to a few hectares. In 2002, the Plecotus sardus, an endemic species of bat, was discovered in the Gennargentu caves, while in 2014, the discovery of the Amblyocarenum nuragicus, a spider endemic to the island, was announced.


Natural caves

The rocks of Sardinia are considered among the oldest in Italy. The karst formations cover a rather limited area in relation to the granitic or metalliferous ones and constitute 6% of the total area, or 1,500 km². The oldest geological formations date back to the Paleozoic, but other formations appeared in later periods, in the Mesozoic, Tertiary and Quaternary, contributing to the creation of a remarkable variety of rock formations.

Sardinia's speleological heritage includes more than 1,500 caves. The Supramonte area is the richest, together with the Sulcis-Iglesiente area and the promontory of Capo Caccia. Among the submerged ones, the cave of Nereo is considered the largest in the whole Mediterranean. The best known coastal caves are the Neptune caves in Alghero and the Bue Marino caves in Cala Gonone. Among those on land, some of the most important are those of Sa Oche-Su Bentu in Oliena, Is Zuddas in Santadi, Su Mannau in Fluminimaggiore, the cave of Su Marmuri in Ulassai, that of Ispinigoli near Dorgali, of San Giovanni near Domusnovas, in the Iglesiente, and the cave of Santa Maria nel Sulcis.



Since the dawn of civilization, Sardinia has been a dock frequented by those who sailed from one shore to the other of the Mediterranean Sea in search of lands and commercial outlets. Thus it was that in its millenary history it has been able to take advantage of both its insularity and its strategic position, as an essential place in the network of ancient routes.

In its historical and cultural heritage there are abundant testimonies of indigenous cultures but also the influences and presence of the major ancient colonial powers. With reference to the historical experiences involving the island, the American historian John Day defined Sardinia as "one of the oldest colonial dependencies in the world."


Pre-Nuragic Sardinia

The pre-nuragic period is characterized by the succession of different archaeological cultures: the culture of cardial pottery (6000-4000 BC), the culture of Bonu Ighinu (4000-3400 BC), the culture of San Ciriaco (3400-3200 BC), the culture of Ozieri and Sub-Ozieri (3200-2700 BC), the Abealzu-Filigosa culture (2700-2400 BC), the Monte Claro culture (2400-2100 BC), the bell jar culture (2100-1800 BC) and the culture of Bonnanaro (1800-1600 BC).

The maritime traffic of the obsidian of Mount Arci probably began from the Mesolithic, as evidenced by some findings in Ligurian contexts, and intensified with the advent of the Neolithic, when its diffusion reached its peak going to reach central Italy -northern, Corsica and southern France.

The most eloquent vestiges of that period are the megaliths, which appeared for the first time in the Arzachena culture (4th millennium BC), such as the tomb circles, menhirs and dolmens, the hypogean tombs called domus de janas and the stepped temple of Monte d'Accoddi.


Nuragic Sardinia

The Nuragic civilization was born and developed on the island over a period of time ranging from the Middle Bronze Age (about 1700 BC) to the Iron Age. It survived in Barbagia until the 2nd century AD. or, according to some scholars, as late as the 6th century AD. in the early Middle Ages. About eight thousand nuraghes, numerous villages, the tombs of the giants, the sacred wells, the small bronzes and the large statues of Mont'e Prama bear witness to this civilization.

The ancient Sardinians, or Nuragics, were a population of warriors and navigators, shepherds and farmers, divided into many tribes who lived in the so-called "cantons". They traded with Mycenaean Greece, Crete, Cyprus and Sicily, with the Iberian peoples, the Etruscans and the Phoenicians, along routes that crossed the Mediterranean Sea from the Iberian peninsula to the Levantine coasts.

Phoenician-Punic Sardinia
Around the 9th century BC. the Phoenicians, coming from today's Lebanon, began to frequent the coasts of Sardinia where they founded new landing places, often on pre-existing Nuragic settlements, such as Caralis, Nora, Bithia, Sulki and Tharros which soon became real urban centers from which trade departed both internally, with the native populations of Nuragic culture, and towards other overseas lands.

In 509 BC. the Punics, through a military campaign, conquered much of southern and central-western Sardinia, including the Phoenician city-states of the coast, including Olbia in the north-east. For about 271 years the Carthaginian civilization was confronted, not always peacefully, with the Sardinian populations of the interior. During this period, the continuous wars were followed by a phase of adjustment, determined by the arrest of the Carthaginian penetration at the foot of the mountain massifs of Barbagia and the Goceano ridge.

To defend themselves from the natives, a sort of limes was traced that went from Padria to Macomer, Bonorva, Bolotana, Sedilo, Neoneli, Fordongianus, Samugheo, Asuni, Genoni, Isili, Orroli, Goni, Ballao up to the mouth of the Flumendosa.


Roman Sardinia

Sardinia entered the Roman sphere of influence from 238 BC, in the aftermath of the first Punic war, going to constitute, together with Corsica, a province (Sardinia and Corsica), chronologically the second province established after Sicily.

The Romans expanded the cities of the coast and founded new ones, such as the Colonia Iulia Turris Libisonis (Porto Torres) and Usellus; they also built new roads, aqueducts and bridges. Despite the numerous revolts of the tribes of the interior (the most famous were the one led by Ampsicora in 215 BC and that of the Balari and the Iliensi in 178/174 BC), the Latin language and civilization finally took root capillarily throughout the island . Caralis, provincial capital, Nora and Sulci were elevated to the rank of municipalities within the 1st century AD. and from 212, with the Constitutio Antoniniana of Caracalla, all Sardinians obtained Roman citizenship.

In the imperial age, the well-being of Sardinia was due to unprecedented agricultural and mining exploitation: in fact, the island exported large quantities of lead and silver, thanks to its numerous mines in the Iglesiente area, where Metalla stood, and wheat, grown in large estates landed estates called latifundia, so as to be considered one of the "granaries of Rome". Salt, hides, wines, wool, cheeses and other products were also exported.

Roman rule lasted 694 years, until the arrival of the Vandals in 456.


Vandal Sardinia

The history of Vandal Sardinia began in the mid-fifth century, when the island was conquered by the Vandals, a Germanic population who had settled in North Africa for some time, becoming part of the kingdom of the Vandals and Alans, together with Corsica. Thus ended the long Roman domination.

The conquest of the island took place between 456 and 460. The first occupation took place in 456 AD. around it was a partial occupation limited to the coastal cities, while between 474 and 482 the island fell again under the dominion of the Vandal armies, perhaps led by Genserico or by his son Huneric. In 533 a certain Goda, who was a Vandal governor of the island of Gothic origin, after having rebelled against the central power resisted the Vandals for a certain period assuming the title of "Rex".

The Vandals, of Aryan religion, confined a certain number of African religious to the island, such as the bishop of Carthage Fulgentius (later San Fulgentius), and Feliciano, bishop of Hippo, who brought with him the relics of Saint Augustine (now preserved in Pavia). In this historical period there was the ascent to the papal throne of two Sardinian popes: Ilario and Simmaco.

Sardinia remained a Vandal for about eighty years, from 456 to 534.


Byzantine Sardinia

The Byzantine age began with the reconquest of Justinian in 534, in the context of the Vandal war fought against the Vandals for the possession of Africa: the new province of Sardinia would have been part of the praetorian prefecture of Africa[87]. Between 551 and 552, while the Gothic war raged on the Italian peninsula, Ostrogoth contingents occupied the island, uncorking it for a short time in Byzantium.

The Byzantine Empire was an autocratic state and the entire administration revolved around the figure of the emperor. Many of the Byzantine institutions were used for the construction of the judicial realms. During the pontificate of Pope Gregory I (590-604) Sardinia returned to the Roman sphere; from a letter from Gregory addressed to a certain Ospitone, "dux of the Barbaricini", it is clear that inland Sardinia was substantially independent and that the ancient Nuragic deities were still worshiped there.

Following the intensification of the Arab presence in the western Mediterranean, after the Islamic conquest of Sicily (827) the contacts between Byzantium and the island became less frequent; in the 9th and 10th centuries the political autonomy that would belong to judicial Sardinia was consolidated.

Between the end of the 10th century and the first decades of the 11th the local institutions reformed making themselves independent from Byzantium. Thus began the period of the Giudicati, an original form of government that lasted for the next four hundred years.

The written sources of the period are scarce but it is assumed that a single autonomous state entity was initially formed on the island, headed by the Archon of Sardinia or iudex Sardiniae (belonging to the Lacon-Gunale family and residing in Caralis), over which Byzantium exercised only nominal authority. Only after the attempted Muslim conquest by Mujāhid al-ʿĀmirī, thwarted by the Sardinians by land and by the fleets of Pisa and Genoa by sea, did the four independent kingdoms of Torres, Gallura, Arborea and Calari form to an effective political and administrative organization characterized by elements of modernity compared to the contemporary continental kingdoms. The territory was divided into curatoria; after the year 1000 that of Torres included 20, that of Arborea 13, that of Cagliari 14 and that of Gallura 10. Some of the ancient names still survive, even if, in many cases, they do not correspond to any administrative entity.

The local legal system reached its apex with the promulgation of the Carta de Logu arborense in the 14th century «considered one of the most important Constitutions of principles of the Middle Ages».


Lordly and municipal Sardinia

The history of lordly and municipal Sardinia refers to that period of Sardinian history which began in the second half of the XIII century when, following the fall of the Giudicati of Calari (1258), Torres (1259) and Gallura (1288), in the former judicial territories that ended up under the influence of Pisa and Genoa, a new historical phase began characterized by a new stately and municipal political-administrative order inspired by the models in force in central-northern Italy. This historical phase lasted until the complete Aragonese conquest of the island and the consequent unification of the kingdom of Sardinia.

Kingdom of Sardinia
The Kingdom of Sardinia was established in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII, in compliance with the treaty of Anagni of 24 June 1295, to resolve the political and diplomatic crisis, which arose between the Crown of Aragon and the Duchy of Anjou, following the war of the Vespers for the control of Sicily. The fiefdom deed, dated 5 April 1297, stated that the kingdom belonged to the Church and was given in perpetuity to the kings of Aragon in exchange for an oath of vassalage and the payment of an annual census.

It was territorially conquered starting from 1323 with the war waged by the Aragonese, in alliance with the Sardinians of Arborea, against the Pisans. The conquest was subsequently opposed for a long time by the resistance opposed on the island by the kingdom of Arborea itself, led by Mariano IV of Arborea and his sons, and could be considered partially concluded only in 1420, with the purchase of the remaining territories from the last judge for a hundred thousand gold florins.

The institutions of the Kingdom (based in Cagliari), in addition to the viceroy, by royal appointment, were the Cortes and the Real Udiencia: the Cortes were a pactial parliament, in which the royal cities, the church and the feudal nobility were represented; the Real Udiencia, established in 1564, was the supreme court of the Kingdom, from which the current Court of Appeal derives and, in the absence of the viceroy, assumed its government duties. With the intensification of the raids of the Barbary pirates, starting from the 16th century an efficient defense system was set up with numerous coastal towers and the strongholds of Alghero and Cagliari.

The Kingdom of Sardinia was part of the Crown of Aragon and of its Supreme and Royal Council until 1713, even after the marriage of Ferdinand II with Isabella of Castile, when Aragon was first linked to Castile, and then from 1516, in already Habsburg era, also to the other state entities governed by them.

Immediately after the War of the Spanish Succession it became part of the dominions of the Austrian Habsburgs, but already in 1720, with the Hague Treaty, Sardinia was ceded, after a brief Spanish reoccupation, to the Duke of Savoy Vittorio Amedeo II; in exchange for what was perceived as an unequal exchange, Austria was awarded Sicily.

In 1847, with the so-called perfect fusion, all the possessions of the royal house of Savoy merged into the Kingdom. By means of this controversial legal act, the state subjectivity of the previously preserved island was completely lost, and consequently all the vestiges acquired in the Iberian period disappeared (viceregal office, parliament of Stamenti, supreme court of the Royal Audience); the island thus became a region of a larger state, with a unitary configuration no longer as it had been after 1720. Although the merger had definitively sanctioned the political center of gravity of the Kingdom, eminently peninsular, the residual name of "Kingdom of Sardinia" was formally maintained until, once the political unification of the Italian peninsula was achieved, it finally assumed the name of Kingdom of Italy ; likewise the anthem of the Savoyard kingdom s'hymnu sardu nationale ("the Sardinian national anthem"), first joined to the Royal March and replaced by it de facto in 1861.


Contemporary Sardinia

Sardinia was one of the least developed regions of the new kingdom of Italy. In the first decades of the unification of Italy, the phenomenon of banditry was also rampant on the island, harshly repressed by the state.

On April 26, 1868, the Su Connottu revolt broke out in the Nuoro area. There were many mines active in Sardinia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly located in the Iglesiente area. On September 4, 1904, the Buggerru massacre took place, where three demonstrators on strike lost their lives.

In the First World War the Sassari Brigade distinguished itself on the battlefields, in which 100,000 Sardinian soldiers were recalled, of which 13,602 fell at the front.

In the twenty years the reclamation works were started in the plain of Terralba, in the Nurra and in other areas. Several centers arose out of nowhere, the most populous was that of Carbonia, founded in 1938.

During the Second World War the island was almost spared from land combat but Cagliari was heavily bombed by the Allies and 2,000 citizens lost their lives.

In 1948 Sardinia became an autonomous region and has been administered since then with a special statute.



Well known in antiquity by both the Phoenicians and the Greeks, it was called by the latter Ichnussa (in Greek Ιχνούσσα) or Sandálion (Σανδάλιον) due to the similarity of the coastal conformation to the imprint of a foot (sandal). The Greeks also called it argyróphleps nêsos (ἀργυρόφλεψ νῆσος) or the island with silver veins, due to the silvery richness of its subsoil. For Herodotus, Sardinia was the largest island in the entire Mediterranean Sea and remained so in the knowledge of ancient navigators for a long time, as the length of the Sardinian coasts (1,232 km excluding the islands) is actually greater than the Sicilian or Cretan ones .

According to recent linguistic studies, the Latin name Sardinia derives from another Greek denomination known as Sardṓ (Σαρδώ, feminine ending typical of some Greek toponyms; compare the morphological variant Συρακώ Surakṓ of ancient Syracuse), name of a legendary Anatolian woman from which we have news in Plato's Timaeus and whose origins came from Sárdeis (Σάρδεις), capital of Lydia.

Sallust in the 1st century AD maintained that: «Sardus, generated by Hercules, together with a great multitude of men who left Libya occupied Sardinia and named the island after him», and Pausanias in the 2nd century AD. he confirmed what Sallustio said by adding that: «Sardinian came from Libya with a group of colonists and occupied the island whose ancient name, Ichnusa, changed to Sardò (...)». In a stone stele dating from the 8th / 9th century BC. found in today's Pula, the word b-šrdn appears written in Phoenician which means "in Sardinia", testifying that this toponym was already present on the island when the Phoenician merchants arrived.


Coat of arms, flag and anthem

With the decree of the President of the Republic of 5 July 1952, the Autonomous Region produced a coat of arms and a banner. The regional law 15 April 1999, n. 10 to art. 1 decrees: «The Region adopts the traditional flag of Sardinia as its flag: a white field with a cross of red with in each quarter a blindfolded Moor's head on the forehead facing in the opposite direction to the luff.» Of uncertain origin, the emblem of the four Moors represents a strong identity element and its use is constantly documented starting from the establishment of the kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica (1324) up to the birth of the Autonomous Region.

The coat of arms of the four Moors appeared on the lead seals of the Aragonese Royal Chancellery under the reign of Peter the Great of Aragon, the oldest example dates back to 1281. The current graphic form reproduces the one consolidated in the 18th century for institutional purposes.

In 2018, in memory of the Sardinian Vespers, the song Su patriotu sardu a sos feudatarios, long considered a regional anthem in popular culture, was officially recognized as the official anthem of Sardinia. The text was composed in 1794 by the magistrate Francesco Ignazio Mannu in a context of political ferment nourished by the ideals of the Enlightenment widespread in Europe.



Through a long and elaborate historical journey, the initial indigenous cultures were joined by multiple contributions of civilizations from the Mediterranean world, contributing to the formation of a cultural heterogeneity with highly original features. Archeology has clearly highlighted this long evolution, finding traces of it in the varying architecture of buildings over the centuries, but this long journey is also found in the traditions intimately linked to the art of craft production, to the variegated musical expressions, to the internal rules of the agro-pastoral world and Sardinian culture in general.

The finds and the precious testimonies of the past are collected and kept in numerous museums and in the archaeological parks scattered throughout the territory. A law issued by the Autonomous Region of Sardinia has been in force for several years and has given new impetus to the reorganization of the places responsible for the custody of the testimonies of the past. In addition to the museums, libraries and historical archives, the archaeological parks and ecomuseums have also been reorganised, a living expression of the historical memory of the area.



Languages from antiquity to the modern age
The first written testimonies in Sardinia date back to the Phoenician-Punic period with finds such as the stele of Nora. According to some interpretations, the ancient Sardinians of the pre-Nuragic and Nuragic period preserved the pre-Indo-European language and customs of Old Europe without significant alterations. According to some theories, the Sardinian or Proto-Sardinian language would have been similar to the paleo-Hispanic Basque-Iberian ones, while according to Massimo Pittau it would have been similar to the Etruscan one; yet another hypothesis supposes that on the island there were populations distinguished by both Indo-European and pre-Indo-European languages.

The Roman conquest of Corsica and Sardinia, incorporated into a specific province, would have marked the decline of the pre-existing indigenous languages in favor of the politically dominant one, Latin. Latin would in turn be supplanted in official use only by Greek during the Byzantine period, but it made a comeback in the medieval variant as a "cultured language", alongside Sardinian, a neo-Latin language used in various official documents such as condaghes and Carta de Logu . Other documents were drawn up in several languages, such as the Sassari Statutes in Latin and Sardinian, or again in Tuscan, such as the Brief of Villa di Chiesa in Iglesias.

The establishment of the Kingdom of Sardinia first led to the use of Catalan and Spanish, which remained until the mid-eighteenth century, and then of Italian with the Savoyard reforms of Giovanni Battista Lorenzo Bogino, who introduced this language for the first time in island with a potestative deed in July 1760.


Current languages and dialects

In Sardinia today several Romance languages coexist, mostly belonging to the Sardinian and Italian linguistic systems. Sardinian is the historical language of the Sardinian peoples which succeeded Nuragic and considered, together with Italian, as the most conservative of the Romance languages. Sardinian has been used at various times as the official language of Sardinian institutions; among the most important documents are the condaghi (condaghes), the Sassari Statutes (Istatutos Tataresos) and the Cartas, among which the famous Carta de Logu del Giudicato di Arborea stands out, which remained in force until it was replaced by the Italian Codice Feliciano in 1827.

Starting from the eighteenth century, which was followed by the official introduction of Italian in Sardinia by law (1760, 1764), a slow but pervasive phenomenon of cultural Italianization of social structures took place, as well as a linguistic drift towards Italian, in now advanced stage: ISTAT, in 2006, revealed that only 29.3% of the Sardinian population alternated between Italian and Sardinian in the family environment, and only 16.6% spoke mainly Sardinian or other non-Italian languages; more recent data suggest that to date only 10% of the young population has declared some competence in the language. Italian, fluently expressed by the majority of speakers in its regional variant, is thus nowadays the most widespread language on the island: on the basis of ISTAT data from 2006, Italian was used habitually by 52.5% of the Sardinian population, even in the family sphere.

The Sardinian language, traditionally spoken in a large part of the island, is conventionally divided into variants represented by two basic and standardized orthographic models:
Logudorese Sardinian (sardu logudoresu) represents the central-northern variants, which have remained more similar to Latin in endings and pronunciation; poems and compositions were written in this orthography such as, for example, No potho reposare, the patriotic hymn Procurad'e moderare, barones, sa tirannia, the religious song Deus ti salvet Maria and the hymn of the Savoy Kingdom. In Logudorese the Nuorese and Barbagia variants are also generally included (sardu nugoresu and sardu barbaritzinu), which is characterized by an even greater conservation and fidelity to the Latin but with frequent archaic elements of the proto-Sardinian substrate.
Campidanese Sardinian (sardu campidanesu) represents the central-southern variants, relatively more innovative than classical Latin but also more widespread. In Ogliastra the dialect has an archaic Campidanese matrix with many Barbagian words, hence the name of "eastern barbarian". Finally, in the Guilcer region, transitional dialects between the two models are widespread, the so-called limba de mesania which inspired the scholars who would later elaborate the written variant of Limba Sarda Comuna, adopted by the Region in 2006.

Overall, the Sardinian linguistic system presents a substantial syntactic and morphological homogeneity, organized in a continuum in which it is difficult to draw a clear dialectal border due to the existence of numerous dialects with median characters (e.g. Arborense, Southern Barbagia, Ogliastra, etc. .); the division of Sardinian into the two orthographic models would follow psychological rather than linguistic boundaries, since they are connected not to specific isoglosses, but to the two administrative areas into which the island had been politically divided in the centuries-old Iberian period: the "capo di sopra", whose the Sardinian Logudorese dialects would be ascribed, and the "capo di sotto", to which the Sardinian Campidanese ones would be ascribed.

Alongside the Sardinian language proper, two Romance idioms of mainly Corsican-Tuscan derivation but often associated with Sardinian are spoken in the north of the island:
in the northwestern region of the island, Sassarese (sassaresu) is spoken in Sassari and with small variations in Nurra, Romangia and Anglona. It is a language born in the late medieval period from the mingling of Corsican, Pisan, Ligurian and the subsequent strong influence of Logudorese Sardinian;
in the north-eastern region of the island, Gallura, Gallurese is spoken (gadduresu /gaɖːu'rezu/) which is particularly close to the dialect spoken in Southern Corsica, the fruit and testimony of the contacts between the two islands and of the migrations in the Strait of Bonifacio occurred since prehistoric times, in particular from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century.

Finally, there are some non-Sardinian linguistic islands, present on the western side of the island:
in the city of Alghero since the 14th century an archaic variant of eastern Catalan has been spoken, the Algherese (alguerès), which is the co-official language of the Municipality;
in the Sulcis archipelago, on the island of San Pietro (Carloforte) and in the northern part of the island of Sant'Antioco (Calasetta) a colonial Ligurian dialect is spoken, called tabarchino (tabarchin) because it was brought there by immigrants of Ligurian origin (Pegli ) exiled from the island of Tabarka in Tunisia in the 18th century;
then the cases of Arborea, Tanca Marchese and Sanluri Stato, populated by settlers who came from Veneto and Friuli, and the Alghero hamlets of Fertilia and Maristella, which host nuclei of Ferrarese origin and Istrian, the latter settled in the village after the Second World War. In these centres, in addition to Italian and the local languages, Veneto and Istriot are also spoken.

With the approval of the law n. 482 of 1999, which for the first time implemented article 6 of the Italian Constitution, Sardinian and Catalan were recognized and protected at the state level as historical linguistic minorities, while the protection of Sassari, Gallurese and Tabarchino is recognized both by the regional law n. 26 of 1997 and by the law, also regional, n. 22 of 2018. As part of the initiatives for the Sardinian language, the Region has launched projects called LSU (Limba Sarda Unificada) and LSC (Limba Sarda Comuna) in order to define and standardize the transcription and grammar of a unified language that includes the common characteristics of all variants. In April 2006, Limba Sarda Comuna became the official Sardinian communication language of the regional administration. In 2012, the Cappellacci council introduced the wording «Regione Autònoma de Sardigna» in Sardinian, with the same graphic emphasis as in Italian, in the documents, in the coat of arms of the Region and in all the graphic productions linked to its institutional communication.



The first prehistoric settlements of the Homo genus (specifically Homo erectus) in Sardinia date back to the Lower Paleolithic (450,000-150,000 BC) according to archaeologists who in 1979-1980 discovered a lithic industry near the Altana stream in Perfugas, in Anglona. Inside the Corbeddu cave, in the Supramonte of Oliena, the oldest attestations of the presence of Homo sapiens on the island were discovered, dating back to around 20,000 years ago.

In the second half of the 4th millennium BC. the first cultural expression developed, traces of which can be found throughout the island, the Culture of Ozieri. The archaeological finds conserved in the most important museums on the island have highlighted the social and cultural progress achieved by the Sardinian prehistoric populations.

The archaeological evidence of the Nuragic civilization, which originated in the Bronze Age, is innumerable. Fragmented into cantons and at the center of intense commercial exchanges with the peoples who inhabited the Mediterranean coasts, it has left important and numerous vestiges on the island. The Phoenicians assiduously frequented Sardinia introducing the first forms of urban planning. Carthage and Rome fought over it leaving indelible traces.

Archaeological studies on the island
In the 19th century, the canon Giovanni Spano began various explorations of the major sites, publishing notations and descriptions in the Sardinian Archaeological Bulletin. From 1903 to 1936 the archaeologist Antonio Taramelli carried out a valuable activity of recovery and cataloging of sites on the island. After the war Giovanni Lilliu brought to light the Nuragic village of Su Nuraxi in Barumini, helping to open up new perspectives and knowledge on the history of the ancient Sardinians.



There are numerous testimonies of prehistoric architecture in Sardinia such as the domus de janas (hypogean tombs), the tombs of the giants, the megalithic circles, the menhirs, the dolmens and the well temples; however, the element that more than any other characterizes the Sardinian prehistoric landscape are the nuraghes; the remains of thousands of these constructions of various types (simple and complex) are still visible today. There are also numerous traces left by the Phoenicians who introduced new urban forms on the coasts.

The Romans gave a new administrative structure to the entire island through the restructuring of various cities, the creation of new centers and the construction of multiple infrastructures of which the ruins remain, such as the palace of the Barbarian King in Porto Torres or the Roman amphitheater of Cagliari. Several testimonies remain throughout the territory both on the coasts and inland from the early Christian and Byzantine eras, above all linked to religious buildings.

Romanesque architecture had a particular development in the judicial period. Starting from 1063 the judges (judikes), through substantial donations, had favored the arrival on the island of monks of different orders from various regions of the Italian peninsula and France. These circumstances led to workers of different origins working on the island: Pisans, Lombards and Provençals, but also of Arab culture, coming from the Iberian peninsula, giving rise to unprecedented artistic manifestations.

The basilica of San Gavino in Porto Torres is considered the reference architectural text for the development of Romanesque architecture in Sardinia. Among the most relevant examples we can mention the cathedrals of Sant'Antioco di Bisarcio (Ozieri), San Pietro di Sorres in Borutta, San Nicola di Ottana, the palatine chapel of Santa Maria del Regno in Ardara and the basilica of Santa Giusta and the Church of San Nicola di Silanis. In addition to the churches of Nostra Signora di Tergu, the basilica of Saccargia in Codrongianos and Santa Maria di Uta and, relating to the thirteenth century, the churches of Santa Maria di Monserrato (Tratalias) and San Pantaleo (Dolianova).

After their arrival in 1324, the Aragonese concentrated the first constructions in Cagliari; the oldest Catalan-Gothic church in Sardinia is the sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Bonaria. Also in Cagliari in the same years the Aragonese chapel was built inside the cathedral. In the first half of the 15th century, a true Gothic jewel was built, the complex of San Domenico, which included the church and the convent, almost completely destroyed during the air raids of 1943, and of which only the cloister remains. Other constructions were the churches of San Francesco di Stampace (of which only a part of the cloister remains), Sant'Eulalia and San Giacomo. In Alghero, in the second half of the 15th century, construction began on the church of San Francesco and in the 16th century on the cathedral.

Renaissance architecture is scarcely represented and, in general, it manifested itself in the late period, often as partial interventions on pre-existing architecture, as in the case of the cathedral of San Nicola in Sassari or the co-cathedral of Sant'Antonio Abate in Castelsardo. The church of Sant'Agostino in Cagliari is one of the most identifiable examples of Renaissance styles.

Baroque architecture had a moderate development: interesting examples are the facade of the cathedral of San Nicola in Sassari and the Collegiate Church of Sant'Anna in Cagliari, the church of San Michele in Cagliari, the church of Santa Caterina in Sassari, the cathedral of Ales and that of Oristano, rebuilt between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Starting from the 19th century, thanks to the new ideas and experiences imported by some Sardinian architects trained in Turin, new architectural forms of neoclassical inspiration spread throughout the island. Among the most representative figures of this architectural phase stands out the Cagliari architect Gaetano Cima, designer of the Hospital of San Giovanni di Dio in Cagliari and of the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Assumption in Guasila. Others to mention are those of Giuseppe Cominotti author of the Civic Theater of Sassari and Antonio Cano (dome of S. Maria di Betlem in Sassari and the cathedral of Santa Maria della Neve in Nuoro). In the second half of the 19th century, the neo-Gothic Palazzo Giordano (1878) was built in Sassari, which represents one of the first examples of revivalism on the island, while the neo-Romanesque facade of the cathedral of Cagliari dates back to 1933.

An interesting creation of eclectic taste, derived from the union between inspirations from revivalist and liberty models, is the Palazzo Civico of Cagliari, completed in the early years of the 20th century. The advent of fascism strongly influenced architecture in Sardinia in the 1920s and 1930s: interesting constructions from that period are the new centers of Fertilia, Arborea and the city of Carbonia, examples of rationalist architecture.

The tourist development that began in the 1960s meant that buildings of notable architectural value were built on the Costa Smeralda together with the village of Porto Cervo, more recently the headquarters of the Banca di Credito Sardo in Cagliari designed by Renzo Piano.

Numerous manifestations of spontaneous architecture with different traditional housing typologies are present in different parts of the island: among these the high house of the hilly and mountainous areas, built in stone and wood, and the courtyard houses in ladiri (raw earth brick) del Campidano and different types of settlements, such as the stazzi in Gallura, the furriadroxius and the medaus in Sulcis.



The Neolithic was the period in which the first artistic manifestations are detected. Numerous finds of the typical statuettes of the Mother Goddess and ceramics engraved with geometric designs testify to the artistic expressions of Sardinian prehistory. Subsequently, the Nuragic Culture will produce hundreds of bronze statuettes and the enigmatic stone statuary of the Giants of Mont'e Prama.

The union between the Nuragic populations and merchants from all over the Mediterranean led to a refined production of gold jewellery, rings, earrings and jewels of all kinds, but also ceramics, votive steles and wall decorations. In addition to the architecture linked to public works, the Romans introduced mosaics and decorated the rich villas of the patricians with sculptures and paintings. In the Middle Ages, during the judicial period, the architecture of the churches was enriched with capitals, sarcophagi, frescoes, marble altars and subsequently embellished with retables, painted by important painters such as the Master of Castelsardo, Pietro Cavaro, Antioco Mainas, Andrea Luxury, and the school of the so-called Maestro di Ozieri headed by Giovanni del Giglio and Pietro Giovanni Calvano.

In the 19th century, and then continue in the 20th century, the myths of the genuineness of the Sardinian people, of an uncontaminated and timeless island, affirmed themselves in the collective imagination of the islanders. Told by the many travelers who visited Sardinia in that period, these myths will be celebrated mainly by Sardinian artists such as Giuseppe Biasi, Francesco Ciusa, Filippo Figari, Mario Delitala and Stanis Dessy. In their works they will tell the autochthonous values of the agro-pastoral world, not yet approved by the modernity that pressed from the outside. Other important Sardinian artists of the second half of the 20th century were Costantino Nivola, Salvatore Fancello, Giovanni Pintori, Maria Lai and Pinuccio Sciola.



The first literary work in Sardinian dates back to the second half of the fifteenth century: a poem inspired by the life of the holy martyrs of Turrita by the archbishop of Sassari Antonio Cano. Literary production had a notable development in the sixteenth century, the protagonist was Antonio Lo Frasso, his Los diez libros de Fortuna de Amor is mentioned in Don Quixote della Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. The work is mainly written in Spanish, but there are parts written in Catalan and in the Sardinian language. Multilingualism was a characteristic trait of the island writers of that era, among them Sigismondo Arquer, Giovanni Francesco Fara and Pietro Delitala stood out. Delitala wrote in Italian, then Tuscan, and Gerolamo Araolla in the three languages. But already in the seventeenth century there was a total integration into the Iberian world as demonstrated by the works in Spanish of the poets José Delitala y Castelvì, Josè Zatrilla and the writers Francesco Angelo de Vico and Salvatore Vidal.

From 1720, with the passage of the Kingdom of Sardinia to the House of Savoy, Italian gradually became the official language. In the nineteenth century there is a renewed interest of Sardinian authors for the history and culture of Sardinia: Giovanni Spano undertakes the first archaeological excavations, Giuseppe Manno writes the first great general history of the island, Pasquale Tola publishes important documents of the past and writes biographies of illustrious Sardinians. Alberto La Marmora traveled the length and breadth of the island, studying it in detail and writing an impressive work in four parts entitled Voyage en Sardaigne.

In the early twentieth century, Sardinian society was described by Grazia Deledda, Enrico Costa and the poet Sebastiano Satta. In this century we should also mention the literary production of political figures of great value such as Antonio Gramsci and Emilio Lussu. After the Second World War Giuseppe Dessì emerged, known mainly for his novel Paese d'ombre. In more recent years, Gavino Ledda's autobiographical novels Father Master and Salvatore Satta's Judgment Day had a vast echo, as well as the works of Sergio Atzeni and the living active in recent decades (New Sardinian literature).


Music and dance

Traditional Sardinian music, both sung and instrumental, is very ancient. Dance scenes are depicted in a vase dating back to the Ozieri culture, around 3,000 years BC. The characteristic Sardinian dance called su ballu tundu is accompanied by the sound of the launeddas, an ancient instrument that is traced back to an era prior to the eighth century BC. Various studies were carried out on this instrument between the late 1950s and early 1960s by the musicologist Andreas F. Weis Bentzon. The launeddas are traditionally widespread especially in Sarrabus, Campidano, Sinis and Ogliastra.

The tenor chant is typical of Barbagia and is considered a peculiar and unique artistic expression in the world. The first testimony could go back to a small bronze of the 7th century BC. where a singer is depicted in the typical tenor pose. In 2005 this song was recognized by UNESCO as an oral and intangible heritage of humanity. The cantu a chiterra is a song born in Logudoro and later spread also in Gallura and Planargia. This song has had a great diffusion since the twentieth century thanks to the numerous village festivals during which real competitions are held between cantadores, accompanied by a guitarist and often also by an accordionist, and has had international popularity thanks to the activity of Maria Carta. In the cultured sphere, Sardinia has given birth to several composers, among which we remember Luigi Canepa, Gavino Gabriel, Lao Silesu and Ennio Porrino.



With bright colors and the most varied and original shapes, traditional costumes represent a clear symbol of belonging to specific collective identities. They are considered a treasure trove of ethnographic and cultural traditions with very peculiar characteristics, the result of centuries-old historical stratifications. Although the basic model is homogeneous and common throughout the island, each village has its own traditional clothing, both for men and women.

In the past, clothes also diversified within communities, performing a precise communication function as they immediately made clear the personal status and role of each member in the social sphere, the historical region or country of belonging, a particular marital status (baghiàna/u, gathìa/u). Even today in various parts of the island you can meet elderly people dressed in costume, but until the mid-twentieth century the costume represented the daily clothing in a large part of Sardinia.

The materials used for their manufacture are among the most varied: ranging from coarse wool to silk, linen, from byssus to leather. The various components of the female dress are: the headgear (mucadore), the shirt (camisa), the bodice (palas, cossu), the jacket (coritu, gipone), the skirt (unnedda, sauciu), the apron (farda, antalena, defentale), in Ogliastra the women of some towns have particular hooks angancerias de prata on their headgear. Those of the male dress are: the hat (berritta), the shirt (bentone or camisa), the jacket (gipone), the trousers (cartzones or bragas), the skirt (ragas or bragotis), the overcoat (gabbanu, colletu) , the mastruca, a sort of sleeveless lamb or sheepskin jacket (mastrucati latrones or "brigands covered in skins" was the name with which Cicero denigrated the Sardinians who rebelled against Roman power).



Festivals have always marked the life of the island communities and in modern times, especially with the revaluation of many minor festivals, they are linked to the desire (and need) to reaffirm one's unique cultural identity. In Sardinia, going for parties means immersing yourself in an ancient culture to discover unknown sounds and harmonies, rhythmic dances with rich traditional costumes, timeless poetic competitions, unbridled horse races, folkloric parades, on foot or on horseback , with precious and colorful dresses of the past.

The festivities often last several days and involve the whole community; many times, for the occasion, special desserts are prepared and banquets are organized with traditional dishes in which everyone can participate. The best known popular festivals are: Sant'Efisio in Cagliari, the Faradda di li candareri (proclaimed oral and intangible heritage by UNESCO in 2013) in Sassari, S'Ardia in Sedilo, Sa Sartiglia in Oristano, the Sardinian Cavalcade in Sassari, the allegorical carnival of Tempio Pausania and the rites of Holy Week in various parts of the island.


Administration and politics

The special statute

The Sardinian special statute, approved by constitutional law in 1948, is provided for by the Italian constitutional system, whereas the art. 116, c. 1, establishes particular forms and conditions of autonomy for five regions, including Sardinia.

For those involved in Sardinian studies, the special conditions of autonomy are the recognition of a strongly characterized historical, geographical, social, ethnic and linguistic situation. In the context of the state situation, according to the then President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano, the special Statute would represent a unicum in Italy in response to commitments, never fully respected, previously made towards the Sardinians by the central government.

The path towards the conditions of relative statutory autonomy, after its renunciation offered by the island's ruling class through the perfect merger with the Sardinian mainland states in 1847, was long and troubled and went through a difficult process of integration within the context of a unitary form of state, also requiring a heavy blood sacrifice during the Great War. According to some historians, faced with the sacrifice of the Sassari infantry on the Carso fronts, Italy would have contracted a debt towards the island. The Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, visiting the front in one of the most critical moments, promised rewards at the end of the conflict; Back in Rome he said in Parliament: «when I saw the infantrymen of the Sassari Brigade I had the impulse to kneel. The nation has contracted a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices and valor of the Sardinians in war, and this debt will be repaid." Upon returning from the front, the ex-combatants organized themselves politically, giving life to the Sardinian Action Party whose main demand was autonomy, recognized with the special statute - after the fascist period - by republican Italy on 22 December 1947, cent years after the perfect merger of 1847.

Unlike Alto Adige, whose statute was based on responding to the needs of linguistic minorities, in Sardinia there is no reference to the geographical and cultural identity of the island: on the contrary, the "specialty" was traced back to measures of contrast towards the economic-social "backwardness" of the region, and the independence demands present up to now.

The Statute, thus drafted, was finally approved on 26 February 1948.


Organization of the Region

In addition to the national political parties, several regional parties are present on the island, including autonomist or independence-inspired movements. Among them, the party with the longest Sardinian tradition is the Sardinian Action Party, founded by Emilio Lussu and Camillo Bellieni, who in the person of Mario Melis acted as president of the regional council in the 1980s, a fact repeated with Christian Solinas in 2019. Other local parties, including various independent movements and political groups, have some representatives in the Municipalities and in the Regional Council.


Anthropic geography

Historical territorial subdivisions

Sardinia has had various administrative and territorial subdivisions over time. Initially, already in the Roman period, the Sardinian territory had been divided into ecclesiastical dioceses, subsequently, in the medieval period, Sardinia was divided into Giudicati and Curatories, with brief seigniorial and municipal interludes. Then during the Aragonese and Spanish rule, the island was divided into various fiefdoms with marquisates, baronies and counties, which left profound traces as in the case of the historical region of the Baronies. In the 19th century the Region was already organized with prefectures, provinces, courts, districts and municipalities.

Sardinia is divided into historical regions which derive directly, both in name and in extension, from the administrative, judicial and electoral districts of the judicial kingdoms, the curarie (in Sardinian curadorias or partes) which probably followed a much older territorial subdivision carried out by the Nuragic tribes.


Territorial subdivision

In 1848, during the Savoy period, the island was divided into 3 divisions (Cagliari, Nuoro and Sassari), 11 provinces (Alghero, Cagliari, Cuglieri, Iglesias, Isili, Lanusei, Nuoro, Oristano, Ozieri, Sassari and Tempio Pausania) , 84 districts and 363 municipalities. In 1859 Sardinia was divided into 2 provinces (Cagliari and Sassari), 9 districts (corresponding to the 11 previous former provinces, minus Cuglieri and Isili), 91 districts and 371 municipalities: this structure persisted even after the unification of Italy and persisted intact for almost seventy years. In January 1927 the province of Nuoro was added to the provinces of Cagliari and Sassari, while in July 1974 the province of Oristano was established. This structure continued until the beginning of the 21st century.

In 2001, in fact, the Regional Council of Sardinia decided on the establishment of four new provinces, which became operational in 2005: Carbonia-Iglesias, Medio Campidano, Ogliastra and Olbia-Tempio, simultaneously redefining the boundaries of the existing provinces; for the first time in Italy the creation of new provinces was implemented by regional law and not by the Italian Parliament, giving rise to difficult coordination with national legislation, which did not recognize them. However, the new provinces did not have a long life: following the favorable outcome of the 2012 regional referendums, a process of administrative reorganization was started, which was concluded in February 2016: with Regional Law 2 of that year the 4 most recently established provinces were repealed. Also in 2016, the metropolitan city of Cagliari became operational, composed of the capital and other sixteen municipalities, for a population of over 432,000 inhabitants and a surface area of 1,248 km²: consequently the remaining territory of the province of Cagliari and the entire territory of Medio Campidano and Carbonia-Iglesias were merged into the new province of Southern Sardinia, which was added to those of Oristano, Nuoro and Sassari.

In 2021, a new regional law, n. 7 of 12 April 2021, launched a further administrative reorganization: the absorption of the province of Southern Sardinia into the metropolitan city of Cagliari, the transformation of the province of Sassari into a metropolitan city, and the re-establishment of the four abolished provinces were envisaged in 2016 following the 2012 referendum (with Carbonia-Iglesias renamed Sulcis Iglesiente and Olbia-Tempio Gallura North-East Sardinia), thus returning to a situation similar to that of the 2005-2016 period and de facto canceling the result of the 2012 referendums However, this regional law was challenged by the Italian government but on 24 February 2022 the Constitutional Court, with sentence no. 68, declared the questions of constitutional illegitimacy raised by the Government inadmissible and therefore the territorial reorganization is soon to be implemented.


Judicial districts and court locations (districts)

The entire regional territory of Sardinia constitutes the district of the Court of Appeal of Cagliari (with a detached section of Sassari), within which the six Courts are located (Cagliari, Lanusei, Nuoro, Oristano, Sassari and Tempio Pausania), whose territorial circumscription of each is defined as district.


Military installations

In Sardinia there are various military installations (bases, ranges, airports, depots). In total they occupy over 350 km², corresponding to approximately 1.5% of the island's surface area and approximately 61% of the total Italian military servitudes, making Sardinia the most militarized area in Italy and among the most militarized of Europe. The military areas on land are flanked by areas at sea for a total surface area of 20,000 km² (slightly less than the regional surface area), which are closed to civilian activities during exercise operations. Particularly significant are the Quirra, Capo Teulada and Capo Frasca ranges, where not only Italian troops but also troops from other NATO countries take part in the exercises. A US naval base operated near La Maddalena from 1972 to 2008, where atomic-powered submarines operated.