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The beating heart of Sardinia: Wine and traditions

It is said that Sardinia is where the Italians themselves go on holiday, and there is nothing to say about that.
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Af Jens Andersen

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A world of highlights

Welcome to the Sardinia. A small piece Italy out in the Mediterranean - but also all by itself.

Throughout history, the island has led a tumultuous life as a toss-up between several Mediterranean nations, but now it is Italy's second largest island and full of good reasons to travel there.

The delicious beaches around Sardinia of course attract many tourists with a penchant for the sea, but there is much more to see and experience - not least when moving into the country. Inner Sardinia offers world-class wine, prehistoric landscapes, unique history and culture as well as the special Sardinian gastronomy.

The tumultuous history of Sardinia can be traced in their local language 'Sardinian'.

The language is more reminiscent of Catalan than Italian, and Sardinia was a part of it Spanish rich for hundreds of years. The culture of Sardinia is influenced by the neighboring countries of the Mediterranean, but at the same time the island is largely its own.

Everywhere in the small towns one sees political messages about Sardinian independence, and in fact Sardinia is geologically one of the oldest areas in Europe. In the middle of the island you can find the pure 'Jurassic Park' with raw landscapes that have not changed in millions of years.

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Surrealistic underworld

A very special attraction, which changes gradually - albeit extremely slowly - is the stalactite cave Grotta di Ispinigoli near Cala Gonone.

Here, nature has drippingly created an impressively surreal world of stalactites - both stalactites and stalagmites - and it is truly an experience to see how nature's own gallery develops.

The Ispinigoli Cave contains, among other things, one of the world's highest stalactite pillars, which is higher than the Round Tower, and it is a fun fairytale world to explore.

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Old and new culture

Spread across the countryside of Sardinia you will find traces of prehistoric cultures; especially the special 'nuraghe' towers and mysterious tombs. The towers have probably been used for defense purposes, while the tombs to this day are still surrounded by mystery and are considered to have almost magical healing properties.

A more modern form of culture can be found in the village of Orgosolo, which previously had a slightly tarnished reputation, but is now best known for the many political murals found throughout the small town. The first paintings appeared in the late 1960s, and they are most often a protest against oppression and injustice worldwide.

The paintings usually speak for themselves, so even if it is difficult to read the language, the message clearly goes through. The first protest was painted on the town hall - where the door is still full of bullet holes - and was aimed at the local government, which would make room for a military base nearby. Since then, the paintings have dealt with everything from women's rights to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

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Death on the poster

Another tradition that is evident in all the small towns is public obituaries. These are hung on walls and walls in the city so that everyone can see who has passed away. Of course, it is not quite comparable to 'street art', but it makes its clear mark on the street scene.

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Proud traditions and local delicacies

The area's special craft traditions are still maintained, and past skills are still cultivated in the fields of bread art, clothing production, gastronomy and of course wine.

In addition to museums with exhibited objects from the long Sardinian history, you can see the various crafts performed live in the many small cozy towns.

Pasta is pulled into ultra-thin threads and assembled into flatbread, the shoemaker makes leather shoes by hand for local shepherds, old dresses are decorated with new detailed embroideries, Sardinian pecorino cheese is made according to centuries-old regulations - and is even available in an illegal version, 'casu marzu', full of live maggots… - and olive oil is squeezed by the finest olives and served as tastings in glass.

The pride of the old craft traditions is palpable.

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World class wine

And then of course there is the wine. Sardinia's most common grape is 'cannonau', also known as 'grenache'. Most of the local red wine is made on cannonau, and in central Sardinia you have the opportunity to visit a long strip of wineries specializing in cannonau wines.

Local authorities have prepared a guide to the cannonau route to show you what else you can see along the way and where you can spend the night. It is available in Italian here.

Whether you are an expert in wine or just want to taste a little, a visit to some of the many wineries is an experience.

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Festival for the taste buds

Another opportunity to taste a whole lot of world-class wine is to attend the annual wine festival 'Binu'. The festival is held in even years in the city of Nuoro and in odd years in Oristani.

Italy's best wine producers participate in the competition for gold, silver and bronze medals, and there is ample opportunity to taste all the award-winning wines.

The wine tasting is combined with wine-related events such as culinary visits from world-famous chefs - with tastings, of course - combined wine and cake tasting, wine and cigars and even pizza and gin & tonic events. There is plenty to get started with and the taste buds are definitely coming to work.

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Classic kitchen

All in all, food and drink is a big attraction in Sardinia, and it is not difficult to find a small cozy restaurant with good traditional Sardinian food. It is not always artistic presentations that are paramount; often the simple tried and tested dishes are the best. Many restaurants have a fixed daily menu that you can easily order. You will definitely not regret it.

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Get it all

Now it may sound as if you should stay in the middle of the island and not spend time at all on the beach. You can also easily choose to do that if you want, but now Sardinia is an island, so the beautiful beaches are never far away.

A combined trip with sun and beach, wild nature, delicious local specialties, exciting culture and world-class wine tasting is the obvious package. Then it can be hard to wish for more.

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This post contains links to some of our partners. If you want to see how it goes with collaborations, then you can tap here (in Danish).

RejsRejsRejs was invited to Sardinia by the Chamber of Commerce in Nuoro and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Denmark. All attitudes are, as always, our own.

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About the travel writer

Jens Skovgaard Andersen, editor

Jens is a happy travel nerd who has traveled in over 60 countries from Kyrgyzstan and China to Australia and Albania. Jens is educated in China Studies, has lived in China for 1½ years and is a member of the Travel Club. He has extensive experience with the travel world as a tour guide, lecturer, advisor, author and photographer. And of course most important of all: As a traveler. Jens often goes to places where it is also possible to watch a good football match in the company of other incarnated fans and has a special fondness for Boldklubben FREM, where he sits on the board. For most people it is obvious to look up to Jens (he is barely two meters tall), and then he is a 14-time champion in the TV quiz Jeopardy and still single, so if you can not find him out in the world or on a football stadium, you can probably find him out touring in the Copenhagen quiz environment.

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