Sardinia – First Impressions

Sardinia hasn’t always been the must-visit destination it is today. When D H Lawrence visited the island in 1921, he complained that there was little to eat except cabbage and bread, and some ‘hotels’ were more like shacks. And yet, in Sea and Sardinia, published in 1921, Lawrence wrote:

‘This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel – nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself.’

Costa Smeralda

The Aga Khan bought up a 35-mile stretch of coastland, just 50 years ago, and the situation changed fast. Luxurious beachfront developments followed, and the rich and famous began to flock to the Costa Smeralda. Here are some of my hotel reviews for the Telegraph.


There are bountiful treats from the sea, and delicious meat-based dishes inland. You won’t find cabbage on many menus, but try traditional porceddu (suckling pig), pasta with sea urchins, and, for the adventurous, casu marzu, a wormy cheese.

There’s a food festival for everything, so a great opportunity to try the cuisine:

Sea Urchin Festival (Buggeruu)

Artichoke Festival (Uri)

Torrone Festival (Tonara)

Easter’s Sagra de S’Anzone celebrated with Sardinian lamb

Sagra degli Agrumi di Muravera – Festival of Citrus (Muravera).


There are megalithic stone constructions known as nuraghe all over the island. They were built during the Bronze Age, but their cultural significance is uncertain.  Their entrance orientation aligns to the sun and moon at the solstices, so it has been suggested that they had spiritual importance.

The island is naturally wild, and its inhabitants are fiercely independent. Sardinians consider themselves to be Sard first, and Italian second, so a good way to experience the culture is visit local festivals. One of the best is that of Sant’Efisio, but for more ideas, see my feature in Flydoscope.

Sea and Sardinia

Sardinia’s turquoise sea and pristine beaches are some of the finest in Italy. (My Italian brother-in-law swears they compare with the Maldives).

For more of my work, click here.