Sardinia

Cartina della Sardegna Sassari La Maddalena Baia Sardinia Porto Cervo Porto Rotondo Golfo Aranci Olbia Porto San Paolo San Teodoro Budoni Santa Maria Navarrese Posada Orosei Cala Gonone Siniscola Dorgali Baunei Arbatax Tortolý Bari Sardo Cardedu  Muravera Costa Rei Geremeas Torre delle Stelle Villasimius Solanas Quartu Sant'Elena Marina di Capitana Cagliari Pula Domus De Maria Chia Teulada Porto Pino  Sant'Antioco Carloforte Costa Verde  Oristanese Bosa Alghero  Platamona Porto Torres Stintino Sorso Castelsardo Valledoria Badesi Isola Rossa Costa Paradiso Santa Teresa Palau Cannigione Arzachena

GENERAL INFORMATION

Administrative area of the southern Italy, it is surrounded by the Thyrrenian sea in the east and the south, by the sea of Sardinia in the west, whereas in north the Mouths of Bonifacio, separates it from Corsica. Actually not only Sardinia never had particular relationship with Italy of the South, but it stays rather towards central Italy (Latium and Tuscany), before the unit of Italy it formed part of the Reign of Piedmont. In the Italian context, the area constitutes a really space with itself: even its Sardinian dialect is regarded as a language distinct from Italian. Administratively it is like Sicily, the Valley of Aoste, Trentin-Haut Adige and the Friuli, an area with a special statute, with a broad autonomy. The origins of the name of the island (that the Romans called already Sardinia) are dubious. For its form similar to the trace of a foot, the Greeks named it Ichnusa (i.e. "trace"); among the most credible assumptions of the Sardinia term, one can quote the derivation of Sarde, mythical character or even the son of Hercules, who would have conquered it. The origins and the source (or sources) of the first inhabitants of the island were not definitively cleared up. The area extends on 24.090 km2 (it is the second island of the Mediterranean for its surface, after Sicily) and it is the third area of Italy, after Sicily and Piedmont. Sardinia is among the Italian areas less populated with 1.659.300 inhabitants and a density of 69 inhabitants to km2, almost a third of the national average.

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TERRITORY

The island has almost the forms of a quadrilateral, with a length from north to south of approximately 260 km and a width from west to east of 120 km. The four ends are Capo Falcone in north, Capo Teulada in the south, Capo Comino in the east, Capo Argentiera in the west. It has a certain symmetry between the opposed slopes, with four major handles, one on each side: The Gulf of Asinara in north, the Gulf of Cagliari in the south, the Gulf of Orosei in the east, the gulf of Oristano in the west. The coastal development is considerable, approximately 1400 km; the natural ports are rare: the coasts are generally high and rock. These morphologies prevail along the septentrional and Eastern littorals, whereas the southern and western littorals are more often sandy. The height of the shores varies even considerably, and is in connection with the relief located behind: in the gulf of Orosei there are cliffs overhanging beyond 400 mt, and a bank close to Capo Monte Santo arrives even at 757 mt. The reds cliffs of porphyry of the gulf of Arbatax in the south of the gulf of Orosei are famous. Two other interesting aspects of the Sardinian coasts: richness of caves, very many where there are limestone formations, and deep splits, like funnel, similar to fjords (oneself-saying them "coasts to rías", old then submerged river valleys and then occupied by the sea), many in the north-eastern area of the island, the Gallura.
The relief of Sardinia is completely different from that of any other part of Italy. Crystalline rocks on which the island is (which in one very old era was plain to Corsica) were already emerged when the Alps and Appennins did not exist. Because of the erosive activity which lasted tens and tens of million years the island misses mountainous chains, raised tops, deep slopes, inserted valleys; It is a landscape "flattened" (average altitude does not exceed the 500 mt), but it is imposing. The wide hills definitely prevail (67,9% of the territory); the 18,5% are made of plains, so the mountainous surfaces correspond to 13,6% of the insular surface. So it is useless to seek in the island a unit of the relief. The largest solid mass is Gennargentu, located in the center-eastern part, whose top La Marmora (1834 m) is the highest of Sardinia. More in the north a series of reliefs forms a species of transverse alignment of south-west in the North-East, and that the Tirso river separates from the central solid mass, which is consitued by the chain of Marghine- Goceano and the mounts of Alà. More in the north and more isolated, the granitic solid mass of Limbara (1362 m). In the southern part of Sardinia the greatest mountainous groups are in the west: the reliefs of Iglesiente, comparable with a series of small solid masses which culminate with the Mount Linas to 1236 m, and in the east the Mount Serpeddi goes up with 1069 Mr. Ancien arm of the sea then filled, the Campidano forms a plain of considerable wide (approximately 2000 km2) and represents a definitely opposite morphological element with that which dominates in Sardinia. The Campidano indeed crosses the North-West to the south whole southern-center Sardinia, by creating a species of corridor between the gulf of Oristano and the gulf of Cagliari. Much less wide but with similar origins is the plain of Nurra, at the north-western end of the island, between the gulf of Asinara and that of Alghero. The other plains, coastal or interns, are low-size. The irregular distribution of the relief is at the origin of a hydrography split up with few important rivers; moreover the nature of the grounds, of which the half is impermeable and thus prevents the training of rich underground sources, added to the concentration of the rains during only one time of the year, make the mode of the river strongly variable. All the Sardinian rivers are so torrential, with spring risings, to which is opposed the estival dryness. During the risings, water erodes easily the grounds, often impoverished of vegetable cover, and involves a great mass of refuses, which settle in the flat, coastal and intern zones. Then are frequently formed and with facility the marshy surfaces, whose majority are drained today. Sardinia is the Italian area in which were realized, by means of stoppings and of artificial basins, the major regulation of the rivers. By means of a stopping on Tirso, the lake Omodeo, which is the vastest artificial lake of Italy, was created in 1923. The island has only three important rivers: Tirso, Flumendosa and Coghinas.
Flumendosa is born from Gennargentu, turns during 127 km in direction of the south, after being barred by stoppings in several points, and leads in the southeastern coast of the island. Coghinas (123 km length) which has its origins in the mounts of Alà, moves towards north, it forms the homonymous artificial lake and leads finally in the gulf of Asinara. There is only one railway line. The majority of the connections are entrusted to public and private companies which use bus without toilets and often without air conditioning. There are no night connections, except for some correspondences with the ports and the airports. Who arrives in boat from Livorno does not have guaranteed correspondence. Here are some examples to say that to arrive without any means of transport, does not make it possible to face serene holidays if there are urgencies or to even be able to move for a walk in the evening, to eat an ice or to go to the restaurant.

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CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

Sardinia has a primarily Mediterranean climate; the influences of the sea are felt almost everywhere in the island, even if they weaken towards the interior. The area is subordinated to the influence of two determining draughts: at the end of the autumn dominate the moderate and wet wind coming from the Atlantic, and at the beginning of spring prevail the hot and dry wind coming from Africa. The most rainy zones are in the North-West whereas the more arid areas are those of the south. The estival and winter temperatures are moderated by the sea; the annual average in almost all the area is between 14 °C and 18 °C. The high estival temperatures (around 30 °C) are recorded in some internal parts (with a maximum higher than 40 °C), whereas in the coastal bands it is approximately 24 °C; the averages of winter are of 9-10 °C on the coasts, but they go down up to 0 °C on the tops from Gennargentu. The rains concentrate between November and December, they miss almost in July and August. Precipitations are as a whole sufficient. In the higher part of Gennargentu, i.e. above 1500 m, snow lasts a few months. To the important climatic elements it is necessary to add the wind; more frequent in winter, and irregular in the other seasons, the mistral blows with much violence, a cold wind which comes from the North-West. Sardinia, because of its insufficient population, preserved intact until today many natural and particular aspects, safeguarded thanks to the detachment of the island of Africa and Europe. Often the landscape appears wild, severe and without human presence but of a rare beauty in the Mediterranean surface. Recently however, various zones, especially coastal, like Costa Smeralda, underwent aggressions devastating on behalf of outside firms which filled the most beautiful littorals with an excessive number of installations and constructions (hotels, second homes, tourist villages etc). The geological history of the island, with its antiquity and its long insulation, determined characteristics with regard to the flora and the fauna, which should be protected with much attention
So some significant and rare natural environments were safeguarded or are to be protected. The principal protected surfaces are the national park of Gennargentu, the natural reserve of the island of Caprera, the natural reserve of Capo Caccia, the natural reserve of the peninsula of Sinis (on the Western coast) and the natural reserve of the pond of Molentargius, near to Cagliari, in which live large colonies of water birds.

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FLORA AND FAUNA

The fundamental character of the Sardinian flora is that to preserve mainly intact some vegetable very old species, which elsewhere underwent transformations or are extinct. But even the opposite is checked: it misses in Sardinia various species of plants present in continental Italy and even in Sicily, like the beech and conifers: the coastal pine forests are recent. The largest surface of the island, where the breeding of the sheep was always traditionally the dominant activity, is occupied by pastures, represented either by the steppe or by shrubs. Both are the result of a degradation of wood due to the men, and in particular to the shepherds, who impoverish the vegetation with the sheep or by burning it to renovate the pastures. Half of the wooded surface which is destroyed each years in Italy by voluntary fires, is located in Sardinia, in spite of the severe laws. Truth woods occupy a very tight surface of the regional territory; it corresponds primarily to the internal zones, and inaccessible to the man and the cattle, and not to the tops of the mountains; the prevalent plants are the oaks (among which most are the oaks cork), the holm oaks and the chestnuts. The richest vegetable formation, widest and most vigorous is the Mediterranean spot, which characterizes the landscape of Sardinia up to 800 m, sometimes by forming picturesque thickets isolated on coastal cliffs; however the spot does not represent an original formation, but it derives from degraded wood. It is in any case an always green association which includes even high shrubs - there is so a "high spot", where the shrubs reach even 4-5 m height, when they find grounds deeper and a major moisture - one finds wild olive-trees, mastic trees, carob trees, myrtle, bay-trees, juniper tree; along the banks of the torrents one finds many pink bay-trees. There is then a spot impoverished, with shrubs of approximately 50 cm height, commonly called scrubland, which include sage, rosemary, heather, thyme, broom etc; interesting are the formations of dwarf palm trees. The meadows the graminaceous ones prevail finally near the littorals, in particular on the hotter and arid southern and eastern coasts; where are the marshy zones, not rare in Sardinia because of the difficult and irregular flow of water. Fauna is interesting and original. It misses indeed on the island much of common species in the surrounding grounds (for example marmots, otters, moles, bear, badgers, squirrels, wolves, vipers and other snakes poisonous and the majority of the reptiles, the frogs.
But Sardinia has many species non-existent elsewhere. The size of the animals present is caracteristic (asses, pig, wild boars, hares, horses etc), it is generally smaller than that of the same species on the continent. Most famous of the animals of Sardinia is the muflon, splendid wild sheep with large twisted horns (for the males); among the reptiles present only in the island, there is "the marginata turtle" (Testudo marginata), which can reach 40 cm length. Among the very many birds, there is a vast diffusion of raptors: the grifon, the black vulture, the bearded vulture, the golden eagle, the eagle of Bonelli and the splendid falcon of the queen or falcon of Eleonora (Falco eleonorae). Finally there is a marine mammal reduced to very few specimens hidden in caves of the Eastern coasts, the so-called seal monk (Monachus monachus).

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ECONOMY

The income per capita of the area, very modest (approximately 10 thousand annual euro), is slightly higher than the average of the south of Italy. The Sardinian economy suffers from the weight of traditions of a pastoral society, little turned towards agriculture, without industry, closed and remote, slowed down in the development by an organization of the territory based on the centers isolated from the interior, low in communications, traditionally little turned towards outside. The modern developments are very recent and due to external initiatives, which developed the principal natural resources: mining layers and the beauty of the coasts. The island is with Tuscany, the single Italian area equipped with metal minerals, especially of zinc and lead (in Iglesiente), and of mineral energy (anthracite and coal in the Sulcis, an area in the south of the island); however the extractive activity, which in the past had a big importance, today is practically suspended because of the excessive costs, noncompetitive with those of minerals of importation. Sardinia forms part of these zones of the South for which, in the Sixties, an economic policy based on considerable public investments determined "development poles" which should have stimulated the local economy; in particular in Porto Torres was built an important petrochemical complex, whereas another refinery was carried out in Cagliari and a metallurgical establishment (work of bauxite and lead zinc) in Porto Vesme close to Carbonia, in the Sulcis. The plans of development gave results much lower than waitings. Today these installations function with reduced activity, if they were not dismantled or are not in reconversion. The agriculture, already neglected traditionally by the Sardinian ones, underwent an abandonment which expressed as a percentage does not have a comparison in Italy, by recording a fall of the agricultural surface from approximately 20%. Tourism is the single sector in growth; however this activity does not propose a great offer of work, so that Sardinia is among the areas of Italy most dramatically struck by unemployment.

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AGRICULTURE AND BREEDING

Except some limited surfaces into which was introduced an intensive horticulture (for example artichoke culture), Sardinian agriculture is extensive and is intended for cereals: there’s even little space for the cultures of the vines and the olive-trees which are typical of the Mediterranean zone. The vine growing provides however wines of quality. The agricultural work and the fishing, which is not as developed as would allow the coastal development, do not form part of the cultural inheritance of the island, which is the traditional ground of the shepherds; from this point of view, the differences with the areas of Italy of the South, like Sicily and Pouilles, are very strong. However it does not miss zones where agriculture modern, commercial, is well developed, like Campidano, irrigated zone, which uses water of Tirso, developed by recent allowances, or like Sassarese. Apart from these zones agriculture is poor, fragmentary. Sardinia is the single area of Italy in which the drifting income of the breeding exceeds that of agriculture. The fields and the permanent pastures occupy two thirds of the usable surface; Sardinia has the most consistent bovine and caprine inheritance and even more ovine (more than 4 million of the sheep) of Italy, which allows a production of cheeses, but also of meats, skins, considerable and often invaluable wool. The shepherds try today a reconversion to substitute the breeding out of cattle shed of bovines for that traditional, itinerant.

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INDUSTRY

If one considers the bankruptcy of the complexes of basic industry, one can say that the secondary industry is very insufficient. In addition the petrochemical complexes in activity have only very few employees. Currently the percentage of credits engaged in industry is lower than the average of Italy of the South. Some food, textile, of wood and of cork establishments work for consumption almost only internal; however the craft industry which has ancient traditions is very varied and interesting. It is even constant by schools and is today with the service of tourism (tapestries, laces, ceramics, jewels, wrought iron etc).

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TERTIARY SECTOR

 Whereas one records a great space occupied by public employment, because Sardinia constitutes an area with autonomous administration, the single active sector among the tertiary sector is tourism. It is however a sector still badly managed, which, for example, did develop neither the inheritance artistic and cultural folklore very rich, nor that of the internal zones, whereas with interventions of the speculative type it too much increased the power of the balneal localities of some coastal zones (around Alghero, Costa Smeralda, Gallura, and few others), with even negative effects on the landscape. As for the transportation routes, one can say that they underwent a modernization and more for the connections of Sardinia with outside that those intern in the island. The trains are slow and very few; there is not motorway but only one "expressway" which crosses the island of north to the south (sassari-oristano- Cagliari), with some service roads. The principal maritime services are in Olbia (principal port for the passengers) in Porto Torres and Cagliari. The air movement is intense, the principal airports are Cagliari- Elmas, Olbia- Costa Smeralda and Alghero- Fertilia.

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POPULATION AND CITY

With the low density of its population, which is equivalent approximately to a third of the national average, Sardinia is definitely different from the majority of the Italian areas; if we consider the "deep countryside", i.e. more postponed agricultural zones, the values go down even to 30 inhabitants /km2. The population, characterized by a rare ethnic homogeneity in Italy, lives traditionaly in the internal zones, small villages which form a closed microcosm, dominated by a patriarchal society, a little antiquated and little opened with modernization. This one arrived especially through the new activities (tourism, industries etc), dislocated along the coasts. That caused a true territorial reorganization which is still in hand. So already after the unit they had a role dominating in the insular geography, the coastal centers, as Cagliari (which formerly divided with Sassari, located in the north of the island close to the sea, the role of principal center) were developed, like Olbia, Porto Torres, Alghero. Nuoro is on the other hand an internal city, mirror of the pastoral traditions of Sardinia. Today the quarter of the population lives in Cagliari and in its neighbourhoods (175.200 inhabitants). It is one of the rare Italian cities to have recorded in the twenty last years a strong demographic growth. Even Sassari exceeds 100.000 inhabitants; the two others two chief towns do not reach 40.000 inhabitants, but there are 65.000 inhabitants in Quartu Sant' Elena, a satellite town of Cagliari.

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HISTORY

With its insular aspect Sardinia was in the center of historical events very interesting and different from those which were held on the Italian peninsula. The more important demonstration of Sardinian diversity in protohistoric time is represented by the nuragic civilization, identified by typical tower with the shape of cone, built with stones superimposed and sometimes inserted in an architectural system. Today Sardinia preserves approximately 7000 nuraghes, which forms the principal archaeological layer, with a thousand "of domus of janas" (Sardinian term which means the "houses of the fairies"), i.e. tombs in miniature dug in the rocks with a structure in labyrhinte, and more than three hundred "tombs of giants", necropoles made up of stones with in the center a stele of several meters. The civilization of the nuraghes left its larger trace in the castle of Su Nuraxi in Barùmini, and at north in "the reggia" of Torralba. The roughness of the mountainous landscape supported the isolation of Sardinia of the more alive currents of the Mediterranean history, and which lasted until Fenicians carry out the first invasions in the island. The commercial interest derived from a vitreous volcanic paste very employed in old times. After Fenicians, the Carthaginians settled on the island: they founded the first cities, like Cagliari, Tharros, Nora, Sulci. The Romans appeared into 238 before J.C and founded military garrisons, built roads, increased the cities and exploited the flat zones like tank of grain for Rome. They fixed aspects of their culture. Indeed the island, belonging to the province of Africa, passed to the Roman empire of the East, after 476 after J.C. From the remote Bysance, capital of the Eastern empire, was conceded a vast autonomy in the island divided into four jurisdictions, i.e. Logudoro, Gallura, Oristano and Cagliari.
After the year Thousand marine republics of Pisa and Genova directed their attention towards the island and they remove families and companies there, while being connected to the local patriciats. In 1297 Sardinia, on the initiative of the Pope, passed under Jacques II of Aragon, but during decades it is a formal sovereignty, until, in 1323, Alphonse d'Aragon unloads in the island by subjecting it militarily. The spirit of autonomy of some territories animated a strong anti-Aragonese resistance which lasted to the XV century. With the XV century end there was the marriage of Isabella de Castille and Ferdinand d' Aragon. The Spanish domination is regarded as one period of economic and demographic decline, on which the feudal constraints imposed on the island weighed. In 1720 Sardinia went to Savoy, forced to exchange it with Sicily for a set of balances and counterweight orchestrated by the great European powers. During twenty years Savoy kept in marginal position the island, which had conferred the royal title to them, that of king of Sardinia. Since 1743 a powerful minister of Piedmont, Gian Lorenzo Bogino, carried out rules with a reformist character: he opens again the universities of Cagliari and Sassari, conceived on the model of the university of Turin; he makes tough the communal councils and created a financial system thought to develop agriculture and to release the peasants of the weight of the debts. To Bogino one owes even the valorization of the archipelago of Maddalena, where was built a military fortress to protect the port, which will become an important military base. During the years of the French revolution one formed a antifeudal movement with Giovanni Maria Angioy as chief, but the island firmly remained controlled by Savoy, thanks to a naval help provided by England. The feudalism which weighed on the property was abolished only during three years (1836-1839), under Carlo Alberto, and a few years later the rights that the comunities exerted on the feudal grounds were abolished. After the unit of Italy (Risorgimento) the island knew a discussed phase: on a side the economic crisis generated the misery and the recrudescence of the banditism; on the other side started mining companies and modern activities in the sector agropastoral. Many Sardinian perished in the First World War; to the tensions of the post-war period is added the formation of a separatist movement of socialist inspiration who leads to the birth of the Sardinian Party of Action. During Fascism one improved the grounds concerned with paludism and one worked the mines, with the foundation of new cities (Arborea, Fertilia and Carbonia). The claims separatists were accomodated by the Constitution of the Italian Republic (1948), which establishes the autonomy of the island with special statute. In 1962 one approved an economic program of rebirth which was concretized in some industrial poles: in Sassari, Macomèr, Porto Torres, Cagliari, Olbia, to say the principal ones. In these years took off tourism, which will modify the face of the coasts, with more than two million tourists in the Eighties.

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ENOGASTRONOMIE

A kitchen low in ingredients, but rich in savour. The dishes of Sardinia are distinguished because they are not worked out too much, to respect savours of origin. The tradition of the Sardinian kitchen is primarily related to the products of the ground, even if the variety of fish of its coasts, allows a great imagination in the preparation of various dishes. Even the influences of former and many invaders of the island left a trace in the recipes, like those of the Catalans with Alghero. Excellent is the roast of pig and small pig, which live in much of zones of the Island still in the open air and in the neighbourhoods of the wood of oaks, whose glands are a treat for the pigs. The sheep (boiled with potatoes) and the lamb typical, are always cooked with fire. The reliefs of the interior of the grounds are rich of game: hares, partridge, ruails, rabbits. The wild boars are of lower gauge compared to those which live in the Peninsula, but have much more savour, especially the sausages prepared with their meat. Lobsters and sea-bream, gamba and bar, eels and sargues. The coasts of Sardinia are rich of the more invaluable species which, thanks to the quality of the sea deprived of pollution, succeed in making feel the flavours and the perfumes of each dish. Even in this case, fire offers to fish an original taste. The fish cracklings of small size, like the mullet, are very tasty too. The bottarga, the pocket of dried eggs of mule, is another speciality. Excellent like condiment, it is exquisite cut very slim and is plunged in olive oil. The economy based still mainly on the breeding of the sheep makes it possible to safeguard and develop another fundamental food of the Sardinian kitchen: cheeses. Characteristics and single, those containing milk of sheep and goat, expenses and old, with raw or cooked paste. The cheeses of cows are very tasty, with spun paste (like provolette, provolone and mozzarella). The desserts are simple and good. Not particularly attracting with the aspect, they hide exquisite tastes and usually they are prepared at the time of the festivals. So with the Carnival one prepares the "zeppole" whereas at Easter the desserts are containing ricotta or fresh cheese: the "pardulas" (formaggelle) or the "seadas", to fry in oil boiling and to be useful with sugar or, better, honey are characteristic. Very good are also the "amaretti" and the "pabassinos". A large variety of wines distinguishes Sardinia. It is thanks to the diversity of the grounds (limestones, argillaceous), which offer nuances of tastes very particular and different according to the zone from the island in which one is. We find so in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano: Monica, Nasco, Moscato, Malvasia, Girò and Nuragus. The Sassarese proposes: Moscato of Sorso- Sennori, Vermentino of Gallura. Cannonau, intense and pasty, characterizes the territory of Nùoro, which offers Malvasia of Bosa and Mandrolisai in Oristano, which perhaps gives the wine more representative of Sardinia (Vernaccia).

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CULTURE

An isolated ground, where cohabit the single traditions and cultures. Sardinia is before a whole museum in the open air, where the visitor can choose to set out again in time, with the Neolithic era for example, to admire the first constructions drawn from the rock, the "domus of janas". In addition to the seven thousand nouraghes widespread on all the territory, the imposing menhirs and dolmens are characteristic and mysterious. But Sardinia is not only the ground of the nouraghes, it is also a whole of traditions which survives since centuries. Zone of conquest, since always: from Fenicians to Romans, Pisans to Genoese, from Moors to Savoy. Sardinia is a ground which speaks to its people and the populations speak with it, with the "Murales", true works of art painted on the walls of narrow lanes of small characteristic villages. Sardinia is ground of churches, a major faith which gave the life to single buildings, where crowned and the layman cohabit in an always single style. Sardinia is a rich island of men of letters, the Nobel Prize Grazia Deledda for example, painters and sculptors famous in the world, craftsmen, untiring Masters who make from daily objects a true works of art: carved pieces of furniture, the "cassapanche", or the domestic luggage with very beautiful laces and the embroideries, the weaving of the wool carpets, the shawls multicoloured embroidered. Or jewels in filigree, single. All that is Sardinia, a marvellous ground rich of traditions which contains the old one and the modern one.

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