Sardinia and Google Maps – So what’s all the fuss?

*Update – Google has responded. As of Oct.14.2013 all town names are now in Italian.

There’s a bit of a fuss over the new Google Maps, Sardinia. I noticed last week when I searched for a map of Sardinia; I wanted to re-create the route I had driven the weekend before and entered in:


And was shown this:

route to tonara1

Out loud, I said to myself “Tatari?” Ohh, you mean Sassari, okay. The newly updated Google Maps, features all major town names in Sardo, the official language of Sardinia. Hey, times are changing, and I’m with the majority who believe Sardo is a language and not a dialect.

I thought maybe I had used, then searched the .com and had the same result; a Google map of Sardinia with cities and towns written in Sardo. I even commented about it on my Facebook page:


The new Google Map Maker allows citizens across the globe to edit and change the names of cities and towns, and some islanders have edited all major towns in Sardinia to Sardo.

This, I haven’t a problem with, the islanders need to embrace their heritage and hold tight to age-old customs.

What I have a problem with, is the confusion it may lead to the million non-native speaking, soon-to-be travellers who are searching for information on Sardinia, and shown a map, with ancient city names while their trusted guide-book reflects a very different language. I just had a peek at all my travel guide books on Sardinia, and not one map is in Sardo.

That’s why I’m here, to help clear the air and show both sides of the coin.

Map Sardinia ~ 2013 ~ Map Sardegna

Map Sardinia English by Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life 2013

So, really, what’s all the fuss?

I’m on both sides.

a) I’m with the population of islanders who want, and should rightfully keep what has been theirs for centuries, this includes: language, land, culture and traditions.

b) We also need to educate the outsiders, the travellers, the non-native speakers, nomads and drifters, to the change; for without their spending the island could not survive.

What’s YOUR take?


Sardinian ‘rebels’ redraw island map – The Local – Italy’s News in English

  • © My Sardinian Life/Jennifer Avventura. All rights reserved 2010-2013. All pictures, unless otherwise stated, are property of My Sardinian Life. Do not use without written permission.

22 thoughts on “Sardinia and Google Maps – So what’s all the fuss?

  1. Pingback: Sardinia vs Google Maps – who will come out on top? | My Sardinian Life

  2. Gosh, I have no idea when dialect crosses the line and becomes another language altogether. Interesting discovery, however. Sorry to be so late getting here. It’s been a busy weekend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  3. My take is that if tourism is a major contributor to the economy, one should avoid confusion. I mean, Rome isn’t Rome to the locals, is it? By all means add ‘subtitles’ but keep the names most widely known. My footnote to the recent Ginger William post regarding name changes in Namibia gives a case in point.

  4. Maps are made to make travelling easier! There are other and better places to discuss and to make points on how Sardinia (or should I write Sardigna or Sardenya?) is peculiar and different from other areas of Italy. The topic has always been “hot” but recenlty is only focusing on formalities (i.e. name of places on sardo) or (non-realistic plan i.e. Sardinia as “no-tax” area). As a Tour Operator, I feel that g-maps should switch back to Italian. As a citizen I ‘d rather pay tax and have services.

    • Thank you Mario. This is why I have this blog – to discuss and make points about Sardinia, Sardegna, Sardigna, Sardenya and so on. This is an open forum where I like to talk about Sardinia, state my opinions and listen to others’ opinions as well. I agree with you, that g-maps should revert back to Italian OR at least have both languages available … however, it is not them who have changed the names … 😉

    • YES. Excellent point. Maps, and esp google-maps, were created to make things easier for a global citizen. Yes, someone is probably going to feel slighted, but it IS for the greater good, and hopefully the end reward for even the slighted ones will outweigh the pains.

      • Most street signs in Sardinia have the town name in Italian and Sardo. So, things are changing for the positive! 🙂 For me it’s really not a problem, it’s just a sign of change and we all must adapt.

      • Driving around Russia I am always please to see directions to big avenues/historical places/gov’t buildings duplicated in English. It’s comforting 🙂

  5. I’m on both sides as well…I believe they need to maintain their culture/heritage, etc BUT there are many tourists who are only now discovering Sardinia (and it’s already quite difficult to get around and not-so tourist-friendly) so the last thing they need is not be able to find directions somewhere!!!

    • How sad!So much blood wasted to”unite Italy”and in the last few years there has been an enormous resentment against politicians in Rome,they are infact blamed for everything:The Recession,The `Ndangheta,The illegal migration,The chaos,even The weather,Italians seem to forget that they are the ones who elect them…..Google must have picked up on this resentment and maybe foresees that soon the pro independence movement,still very small but vocal in the island,one day not too far away will finally see Sardinia as a country in her own right,if that happens,it will be a very sad day for everybody,we are all Italians first,keep the heritage of course,keep the language and the traditions that make Sardinia so unique but never forget that we are all Italians……Giuseppe Garibaldi must be turning in his grave! He loved Sardinia so much he retired modestly in Caprera and choose to be buried there

      • I was in Caprera a couple of weeks ago and was chatting with the woman who runs the little restaurant there….they are an agriturismo but not the usual. The building was part of Garibaldi’s house and is unrestored. Luckily for us all, Caprera is part of the park system so other than the unfortunate presence of ClubMed it should retain its pristine beauty.

  6. I find this really interesting and quite a nice touch for the dialects of old are disappearing. As long as there is an alternative, no problem. One can always ask and that makes any trip more interesting. Great information. You put a great deal into all of your blogs! Last time I Googled Anela, I saw my two male cousins sitting with friends on their stone wall! Amazing to see that Google picked them up . Have a great day!

    The Sard/American

  7. Just one small correction, Jen: the language of Sardinia is actually Sardo, not Sarda. I know, “language” in Italian is feminine (la lingua sarda), but we are all following the neo-Latin convention of giving languages a masculine gender. So, in French it is Italien, Français, Espagnol, in Spanish it is Italiano, Francés, Español, in Italian it is Italiano, Francese, Spagnolo etc.

    • Ciao Alberto! Thank you kindly for pointing out my error. I searched everywhere for it and all I found was lingua Sarda. Italian sure isn’t an easy language to learn, now imagine dialect or even Sardo! 🙂

  8. I think google should put both the sardinian name of the towns on the maps. It shouldnt be that hard, but what i find more important are the lack of the small villages! Wen you live in the interior there are plenty of small villages which arent even on their maps even if you zoom in.

  9. PS – my soliloquy aside, this is an EXCELLENT post and a critical issue to explore regardless of the country or region in question (PPS – does Italy have an official national language?). In fact, I hadn’t seen this discussed on any other travel or expat site that I’ve come across, so, mad props.

    • Thanks for the ‘mad props.’ The official language of Italy is Italian, then there are about 2 billion dialects spoken throughout the country. Just recently a bill was passed making Sarda a language rather than a dialect. My husband speaks Gallurese which is different from Sarda, Gallurese is widely spoken in the northwestern part of the island. You’re probably correct in stating that more non-Sardinian’s are using Google maps to find their way around the island, I hope with this post I can help clear the confusion.

  10. This one is a toughy. When I went to Italy in 2008, thank god I knew that Firenze is actually Florence. But I would be lost planning a trip anywhere I am not sufficiently culturally and linguistically familiar with.

    I am currently involved in a project to make Russia more travel-friendly (for tourism and commerce) and accessibility and ease of use – of anything – is at the top of priority list. If even PLANNING your trip is complicated, bc you think you want to fly to Florence but then go to Google Maps and try to plan day trips and cant even FIND Florence on a map? What if you book accommodations in a totally wrong place? What if you simply get discouraged? Not good.

    And while it’s easy to blame the ‘ignorant foreigners’, this kind of exclusion carries very real economic and social penalties for the ‘host’ country. Do I think you should acquaint yourself with the local peculiarities if you’re moving somewhere? Yes. But if you have to or want to travel somewhere for a couple of days? If you’re going to a couple dozen places per year? Those are unreasonable expectations.

    After all, I am willing to bet a nice Sardinian dinner that on any given given day, there are a lot more non-Sardinians than locals using Google Maps to figure out their way around the island.

Your comments are greatly appreciated, thank you.

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