I haven’t yet written about my love for Sardinia and perhaps now is the right time. Having returned from a week’s holiday in Baia Sardinia my passion for this island is once again ignited. I fondly refer to it as ‘my’ island as it feels like that’s where I’m most at home and it is without a doubt my ‘happy place’.
As D.H Lawrence once wisely described in his book Sea and Sardinia, 1921 “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.”
Sardinia is enchanting, from the glistening crystal blue waters to the magnificnet mountains as its back drop – the mare e monti are what makes this island so special. The sea and the mountains are the essence behind their regional dishes, their way of life and the history of the island.
Famous for its nuraghi from settlers in the Bronze Age, the island has been home to many invaders since 350,000 BC, including the Romans and the Spanish throughout the years. However, post WWII Sardinia was granted autonomy in 1948 and today the Sards are proud of their island and their heritage. The Sardinian flag flies proudly from boats, restaurants, apartments and more and you’ll often hear locals conversing in Sardo (Sardinia’s first language) – don’t try to understand it though as it’s a world apart from Italian!
The colours of this island are as vibrant and warm as the people who live on it. From the turquoise waters to the bright green shrubs and pines that grow between the mountains and bougainvillea that brightens hotels and apartments.
The people are some of the kindest I’ve ever met, they take life slowly and with good humour – something we can all learn from. Tranquillo my friend Daniele used to tell me all the time, con calma…their warm hearts and generosity knows no bounds. Something that I was extremely thankful for when I arrived in the small town of Pula with limited Italian, no friends and a new job, country and culture to get to grips with.
As my network of friends slowly built and my knowledge of the local area grew, my italian improved and I fell in love with this magical island. I loved driving between my hotels, visiting local restaurants with friends, trying new dishes, drinking good wine and laughing with these very special people.
I became accustomed to their way of life; cappucino and cornetto con marmalata was the perfect start to my day, I’d then squeeze in a few hours work, enjoy a leisurely lunch (pranzo) before taking a well deserved siesta! Later on I’d head out for un aperitivo (aperol spritz, negroni or campari orange were and still are my favourites) with friends.
Of course an evening wouldn’t have been complete without a glass of Sardinia’s famous red wine Cannonau – coupled with pane carasau, pecorino and salame, which is traditionally served as an antipasti or stuzzichini (snack with drinks). Whether it was pizza, pasta, porcheddu or pesce that followed I was never disappointed! Traditionally most meals would then end with mirto – a digestivo made from myrtle berries but I wasn’t too keen on the taste so if I was feeling brave I’d take a grappa!
There is a lot to be said of the Sardinian way of life they are a longevity hotspot and one of five identified blue zones in the world where people are happier, healthier and live for longer. Some of you, like me, might be glad to know that some of the keys to living this longer, healthier life include:
- Drink one or two glasses of red wine a day – Cannonau is rich in antioxidants that are good for the heart
- Laugh with friends – how can it not be good for you?
- Pecorino cheese – is made from grass fed sheep’s milk so is high in omega-3
Chi mangia bene, vive bene!