Sardinia is, by extension, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, measuring 24,089 km sq. This island, which is situated in the middle of the western Mediterranean, lies just 12 kms from Corsica, at a distance of 120 km from Tuscany and 185 km from the North African coast. It is surrounded by shallow seas, with a coastline of nearly 2000 km. The Sardinian coast is generally high and rocky, but is varied by more articulated sections, where promontories and wide bays lie surrounded by islets. Where the coast is low and leads to plains, the sea seems at times to reach inland by means of marshes, wetlands, sandy dunes. The coast is more rugged and broken in large sections in the north-west and north-east.
David Herbert Lawrence, the famous English writer, loved Italy. He travelled through it far and wide, often on foot. Sardinia inspired him and he dedicated his fine book to it, Sea and Sardinia, where he wrote: “Sardinia is left outside of time and history”. Of course, nowhere is left outside of time and history. But Lawrence’s affirmation has a certain poetic truth, which captures and sums up a sensation which unites everyone who goes to Sardinia: the sensation of finding oneself in a region where the stunning beauty of nature, the limpid waters of the sea, the reserved and genuine character of the people, the exquisiteness of the many typical dishes, the ancient traditions, and the various expressions of Sardinian culture, will never change.
The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines and Spanish all arrived in this splendid island: Sardinia assimilated and reinterpreted all these different influences, integrated them into its own culture, but did not allow its heart, its own profound way of feeling, to be touched or changed. Similarly, the physical heart of Sardinia, the area of Gennargentu (now a splendid National Park), has always been inaccessible to foreigners.
The visitor feels reassured, guaranteed by this sensation of continuity: as if here, even in the most modern and built-up areas of the island, everything continues to be more authentic, more genuine than elsewhere. It is so at Cagliari, as it is at Nuoro, at Sassari as it is at Oristano, at Alghero as it is on the Emerald Coast: wherever the traveller chooses to enjoy the magnificent sea or visit museums, to study the mystery of the nuraghi (ancient buildings) or to try a delicious typical dish. Wherever you are, you will feel that you are doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right place.