Sardinia, with its quintessential Mediterranean beauty, is mainly loved for swimming, boating, windsurfing, hiking, climbing, and camping, with coastal areas tending to become over touristed especially in the warmest month, August. The inner life of the island away from the tourist spots takes longer to appreciate and requires you to peel away the layers of apparent Italianization. After all, the ancient Nuragic civilization of Sardinia of ca. 1500 BC, whose stone monuments still dot the land, predates even the Etruscan civilization in mainland Italy by several hundred years.
[[Image:Sardinia_PhysGeo_2.png|thumb|350px|Physical Geography of Sardinia]]
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With the fall of the Roman Empire, heavy raiding of the coastal areas by pirates forced the population to the hinterland; Sassari for instance was founded by refugees from Porto Torres. The four Kingdoms (''Giudicati'' of Calaris (Cagliari), Arborea (Oristano), Torres (Sassari) e Gallura (Olbia-Tempio Pausania)) sprang forth during the Middle Ages, but were rapidly colonized (except for the Oristano area) by Pisa and Genoa; in particular the Pisans (the famous Conte Ugolino della Gherardesca of Dante's ''Inferno'' and his family) held between 1200 and 1350 the southernmost part of the island, deriving a large income out of the silver mines near Iglesias, which they themselves founded. Spain then seized the whole of Sardinia by the end of the 14th century, and for nearly 400 years the island remained basically out of mainstream European history.
With the rise of the House of Savoy, the constitution of the Sardinia-Piedmont realm was the starting point for the unification of all of Italy. When this was achieved, Sardinia was once again left to its own devices, except for the exploitation of its large mineral resources. Fascism saw important work (in particular the reduction of marshy areas), and in 1948, given the unique socio-political context of the island, Sardinia received the status of autonomous region which it still retains to the present day. With the end of the exploitation of the mines, but with the fast growth of the tourist industry (especially in the Costa Smeralda ("Emerald Coast") area), Sardinia is slowly converting itself into a popular tourist destination, while traditional
Sardinians are generally a quiet and reserved people, especially those of the interior,
There are ferry services to Cagliari (south coast), Porto Torres (north coast), and Olbia, Golfo Aranci and Arbatax (east coast).
Have a look at Ferriesonline [http://www.traghettionline.net] or iTraghetti [http://www.itraghetti.com], or the state-owned ferry service Tirrenia [http://www.tirrenia.it] (year-round service) and the private companies Moby Lines [http://www.mobylines.com], Sardinia Ferries [http://www.corsica-ferries.co.uk/], Grimaldi [http://www.gnv.it], Snav [http://www.snav.it].
Daily ferries link Northern Sardinia with [[Corsica]] (it is possible to take a day trip to [[Bonifacio]], Corsica) from Santa Teresa di Gallura.
While it is possible to get around Sardinia by bus and train, doing so may well limit how fast you travel and where you go. If you can, hire a car. It is well worth the outlay, and it will allow you to visit some of the more remote and enchanting places and areas.
Consult the article on [[Italy]] for general information about speed limits, urban areas, police forces, etc. What follows is specific to Sardinia.
Sailing is one of the best
Regular trains from the edge of [[Alghero]] to [[Sassari]] and from [[Sassari]] to [[Cagliari]], although buses are usually quicker. Change at '''Macomer''' for trains or buses to [[Nuoro]]. Less frequent trains on this and other routes. Both Trenitalia and Ferrovie della Sardegna operate trains in the Island.
In the summer period, twice a week, there's a small train that travels from Sassari to Tempio and back. It runs especially for tourists and is highly recommended. The train
At many places it is possible to rent a bike quite cheaply, for as little as 9 euros per 24 hours. Compared to the scarce local bus connections a bicycle provides great flexibility for local exploration. With high quality roads and great scenery the bike is very pleasant to ride.
== Do ==
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While you can find most major hotel chains in Sardinia, the better way to really enjoy a stay in the island is to find a local hotel. Another often cheaper option that adds many 'out of town' locations is to rent a small cabin in a camping village or a room in an 'agriturismo' farm or rural cottage. Most accommodations are located near the coast, but also internal regions offer great opportunities.
* '''Vermentino di Sardegna''' is light wine with a strong minerally taste.
Sardinia is part of the Mediterranean area and shares its specific hazards. A few basic precautions are generally enough to stay out of trouble, especially during summer and autumn.
Autumn is generally fine, but can become very unpleasant because of the heavy rainstorms and hilly topography, creating possibilities for land- and mud- slides; always check the weather before planning a trip, even with your car. Winter and spring are generally safer, with pleasantly mild weather (especially during the day) and abundance of water; but remember that to higher elevations corresponds an increasingly colder weather and larger precipitation. Much of Sardinia (especially the Western part) is very windy from September to April; all drivers, and in particular those with campers, must exercise caution.
'''Consult specialized texts for expert advice'''.
Sardinia has a very low criminal rate; even kidnapping, which targeted wealthy (and at times not so wealthy) individuals until the mid
Beware that some urban areas (in particular the Sant'Elia district near the football stadium and the
Be wary of game hunters during the September-February period; check with locals, hotel employees, and the website of the Sardinian Region [http://www.regione.sardegna.it/] for legal hunting dates. Do not hike in the wilderness during these days! There are protected areas (It. Oasi di protezione della fauna) but even these are regularly raided by poachers, especially during the night.
From April/May to September fires plague Sardinia as the rest of the Mediterranean area; some are spontaneous wildfires, but most are criminal. Observe the usual precautions. It is generally forbidden to start domestic fires in forests. Check with local authorities; Sardinia is an autonomous region and Italian laws might be superseded by local provisions.