Pristine Sardinia, like Sicily, is an island that has historically been plagued by foreign invaders because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean. It is characterized by soaring cliffs, beautiful beaches and granite coasts.
In 1861, Sardinia became part of a Unified Kingdom of Italy. Vittorio Emanuele II, of the Royal House of Savoy, was the son of Charles Alberto of Sardinia and Mary Therese of the Hapsburg Empire. He was born in Turin and was the King of Sardinia from 1849-1861. He became the leader of the new monarchy when Italy unified in 1861. He reigned until his death in 1878. When Italy unified in 1861, Rome retained papal status and Venice was still under Austian rule for an additonal decade.
Prior to the unification in 1861, the Phoenicians, Cartheginians, Romans and Spanish invaded and influenced the customs, culture, language and cuisine of Sardinia. To get to magical Sardinia by air, fly into the main airports in Alghero, Olbia and Cagliari. Ferries from the mainland dock at Cagliari, Olbia and Porto Torres.
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediteranean and small enough to drive across in one day. There are 1.6 million residents and 3 million sheep. Like Sicily, this coastal paradise evolves from a mountainous center.
Alghero is an idyllic former Catalan Colony on the western side of Sardinia. It is called the Coral Riviera. Alghero’s Centro Storico (old town), is protected by ancient walls. This charming citadel has labyrinthine cobblestone streets and glorious towers. Each year they host a car race.
Visit the 16th century Catalan Gothic Duomo in “Little Barcelona.” The Duomo has a majolica dome and a high altar filled with beautiful statues and houses the Diosesan Museum of Sacred Art. Climb the bell tower behind the Cathedral for beautiful views. The restored 14th century Chiesa di San Francesco has summer concerts. Travel about five miles to see the Necropolis of Anghelu Ruju.
The best beaches are in the north. Arrange a boat tour from the harbor to Capo Caccia. Then travel by boat to the Grotta di Nettuna or Grotta Verde where these cave lakes have amazing stalagmites and stalagtites.
One of the best meals I have ever had was @ Andreini on Via Ardoino in Alghero. Order the Tagliolini in Crosta di Pecorino. They prepare the pasta in a flaming wheel of pecorino cheese with sage and bottarga. Then order the the roast suckling pig. Save room for the chocolate cake with lemon sorbet.
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