Sardegna (Sardinia)

The Mediterranean's second largest island boats ancient ruins, glittering beaches, gorgeous hikes, and an ancient culture so apart from Italy it even has its own distinct languages

Sardegna is the part of Italy that feels foreign and exotic even to Italians. it has its own cuisine, traditions, stone-age villages, ancient ruins, even languages. The main tounge, Sardo is a full-fledged language of its own—not, as many assume, a dialect of Italian. (In the town of Alghero, settled long ago by Barcelona fishermen, they actually speak Catalan.)

Just west of the Italian peninsula, the Mediterranean's second-largest island is awash in glittering beaches, stone-age villages, and nature hikes in the the wilds of the Sardegnan interior, a region called "Barbagia" (barbarian lands) since the time of the Caesars, when not even the Roman legions were able to conquer it fully.

Sardegna also has ancient ruins from the Roman and Pheoncian eras and dozens of stone citadels from the mysterious Nuraghe people, a civilization that flourished 1,500 years before the Romans started their empire.

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