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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Mar 2019 > Homes in Sardinia

Homes in Sardinia

White beaches, turquoise water, pristine landscapes and hospitable people – Sardinia offers a fat packet of charms. No wonder the island’s admirers include the rich and famous. Surprisingly, there’s property here to suit every budget, says Fleur Kinson.

Italy certainly has no shortage of beautiful places, and if you were asked to come up with its top ten, you’d struggle to make so short a list. But you’d have no trouble deciding whether Sardinia should be on it. Your only question would be: “Should it be number one, or slightly further down?”

The second largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily), Sardinia is one of the most geographically gorgeous places in all of Europe, let alone in Italy. Clean and spacious, it features salt-white and amber-gold beaches lapped by crystalline water, wind-sculpted rock formations, dainty cork forests and pine woods, vineyards and olive groves, sun-blonded plains, dreamy rounded hills and low mountains. Underfoot, and all around, lies a fragrant tangled underbrush of myrtle, juniper, rosemary and lavender. Sardinia’s unspoilt landscapes and coastal waters are home to wildlife so diverse and exotic that the island has sometimes been called ‘the Galapagos of the Med’.

A delight to the senses, Sardinia is also fascinating in its culture and history. The island’s inhabitants are kind and gentle people who speak one of Italy’s strangest dialects. Towns and villages (there are no big cities) feature buildings in a delightful hodgepodge of colourful Mediterranean styles. Sardinia’s most intriguing bits of architecture, however, are its nuraghi – prehistoric stone-built conical towers that are scattered in their thousands across the island. No one knows what civilisation built them (archaeologists just call those people ‘the nuraghic civilisation’) and no one knows what the towers were for. They exist nowhere but Sardinia. Standing silent and enigmatic, in various states of decay, nuraghi can regularly be spotted in fields and woods, on headlands, plains and hills. They are the symbols of the island.

With so many delights to lure visitors here, you’d expect massive numbers of tourists to have trampled Sardinia to dust by now. In fact, the crowds are still small, and their coming has never prompted tourism-eyesores such as high-rise hotels and their like. Sardinia is just not that sort of island, and careful laws protect it from ever becoming that sort of island – which, in turn, protects the value of all property here. Sardinia’s visitors tend to be the discerning sort who value unspoilt nature and authentic local culture. The island is very likely to continue providing both of those things for the foreseeable future.

Alghero is becoming increasingly popular

THE MARKET STORY

Until the 1960s, Sardinia was way, way off the tourist map. (DH Lawrence was an eccentric travelling pioneer when he came here briefly in 1921 and wrote Sea and Sardinia about the experience.) Famously, the island first came to the attention of travellers when the Aga Khan, crossing the Med in his yacht, was forced to shelter from a storm on Sardinia’s northeast.

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About Italia!

Our new issue will take you from the chilly alpine splendour of Courmayeur in Valle d’Aosta right down to Sicily – visit the majestic Valley of the Temples near Agrigento or stay nearby at the Verdura Resort. A recent fl ying visit to Florence inspired our ‘48 Hours’ feature this month; from new discoveries at the Duomo to a new way of getting around (by tuk-tuk), this venerable city is always a pleasure to visit. And, turning to another alternative mode of transport, we take a tour around Lake Garda by e-bike.