Despite the Mediterranean glitz and glamour of Sardinia’s upmarket resorts, the island offers a rustic charm that still holds it apart from Italy’s more typical tourist destinations.
Located approximately 240km off the mainland, the fervently autonomous region remains a haven for dreamy, unspoiled coastline, picturesque countryside, and authentic gastronomic experiences. As if hidden in plain sight, Sardinia possesses a timeless agricultural quality, perfectly suited to immersing oneself in the local food and wine traditions.
Over the centuries, the island – almost three times the size of neighbouring Corsica, and only just smaller than Sicily – has beckoned countless conquerors to its shores. The constant changing of the guard on this strategically important island has left behind layers of cultural influence that are woven into every aspect of island life. Various civilisations, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines and – more recently – the Italians, have all left their mark, shaping without ever defining this rugged land. The culmination of this rich heritage has given rise to a unique ‘Sardo’ identity.
In many ways, Sardinia is the ideal retreat, whether for a few days or a few weeks. Beaches stretch for miles, lapped by idyllic turquoise waters; inland, rolling hills of lush forests, olive groves and vineyards thrive amidst limestone cliffs, deep canyons and hidden caves. The iconic nuraghi – ancient stone towers dating back to the Bronze Age – punctuate the landscape and evoke Sardinia’s mysterious ancient heritage. Volcanic formations, like the Gennargentu Massif, provide a dramatic backdrop for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering panoramic vistas of a land steeped in natural beauty. And then there’s the wine.
While it doesn’t boast the commercial history and kudos of other Italian regions, Sardinia’s wine industry continues to evolve impressively. Today, it is made up of a handful of large winery brands and co-operative cellars, and hundreds of small- and medium-sized producers. Two key grape varieties dominate: the fresh and fragrant white Vermentino, and the full-blooded red, Cannonau, known elsewhere as Grenache.
In recent years there has been a surge in both consumer and producer interest in rare grapes, meaning there’s now a growing number of low-volume wines made from the likes of Nuragus, Nasco, Torbato, Monica and Carignano, all of which are strengthening Sardinian wine culture.
My perfect day in Sardinia
Wake up early in the centre of Cagliari and go for a morning run along the marina before stopping for coffee, eggs and pastries with a leisurely flick through Gazzetta dello Sport. After taking it easy for a while in and around Piazza Yenne, stroll through the city’s Castello district, admiring the area’s history and architecture – there’s so much cultural detail here, particularly around the cathedral and bell tower. Lunch may not be far away but there’s probably room for a slice of ‘Sarda’ pizza al taglio.
A quick taxi out to Pula, just south of the city, and a table for two at Fradis Minoris overlooking the Nora lagoon. Surrounded by green aromatic shrubs and cool blue waters, this is a stunning place to gorge on expertly prepared seafood, washed down of course with a few glasses of chilled Vermentino. Chef Francesco Stara focuses on completely ‘circular’ cuisine in this protected marine area, and has been awarded a green Michelin star. After lunch, be sure to spend some time bird watching.
Back in the city, Cagliari’s football stadium is fairly central. If there’s an evening game on it’s always a lively atmosphere under the lights, and fierce island character can be heard in the stands. Otherwise, fully refreshed from an afternoon snooze, enjoy the…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/sardinia-for-wine-lovers-513503/