Last week, I asked a question on My Sardinian Life’s Facebook Page about what you would like to see more of on my blog, and a few of you answered with topics I haven’t yet covered here. So, here goes a random post on tips, things to see and do and how to stay away from the crowds.
Question 1: Do you have any ideas on visiting rural villages with strong traditions?
Answer: I sure do! This is one of my favourite pastimes on the island. There is nothing I love more than a slow drive through the mountains discovering ancient ghost towns and even thriving towns full of strong traditions. I highly suggest visiting Sardinia in the fall when Cortes Apertas – Autunno in Barbagia is held, it runs from September to December each year and is held deep in the mountains of Barbagia (central Sardinia, her heart and her pulse).
What is Cortes Apertas – Autunno in Barbagia?
Cortes Apertas is an open house, held yearly in several towns and cities in the deep, vast tremendous centre of Sardinia – Barbagia. It is a colourful festival run by the locals of each town; they open their doors to the wonders of their beautiful, simple life, far away from wi-fi and reality tv. Cortes Apertas is where you can witness strong traditions from eons ago that are still practised today, it’s an event full of dance, laughter, parades of costumes that are over a 100 years old, and it’s a place to make new friends and discover a hidden raw element to the island.
I have been to several Cortes Apertas: Mamoiada, Oliena, Tonara, and Onani. They are all equally fabulous and worth a visit to see first hand the strong traditions from this magnificent part of Sardinia.
Question 2: Do you have any backpacker tips?
Answer: Excellent question, and as an ex-backpacker, I should have a plethora of tips for Sardinia, but I only have a few to offer.
- Sardinia is NOT an easy to get around with public transportation, BUT, if you have enough patience and plan well in advance then there are plenty of options to get you from A to B: public buses are ARST and SARDABUS. Tickets vary depending on voyage length, and you can buy them in most shops that sell tobacco. The train is cost-effective, fast and worth it if you don’t want the long drive from north to south. At the end of October, I took the train, a three-hour voyage one way, from Sassari to Cagliari with Trenitalia. A return ticket cost 33 Euro. Well worth it in my books. Keep in mind: some buses are early, some are late, some don’t even come, the bus stop could be a stone slab with nothing written on it or a large post with hourly stop times. Trains run more often and on-time than the bus. There is also the little green train that D.H Lawrence made famous in his book Sea & Sardinia. This train travels the centre of the island and a small part of the northwestern coast as well as parts of the central interior and southern parts out of Cagliari, it travels past rural villages, rolling mountains and lush green lands where sheep, cows and horses graze.
- August is the most expensive month on the island. Believe it or not, prices increase on everything from yoghurt to gas, accommodations, restaurants and even beach rentals. I suggest NOT visiting in high season – July & August, summer sticks around a long time here so there will be plenty of time for lounging on the beach. I’ve been on the beach in October!
- If you can, rent a car. You can experience and explore much more of the island on your own.
- You’ll find cheaper eats if you do it yourself, but be sure to spoil yourself a few times and try some of the local goodies.
- Costa Smeralda is a rich man’s dream. Drive through it if you can. Browse the shops to experience shock and awe at the sales ticket and take a stroll on one of many pristine beaches that surround this golden paradise. Then leave.
- There are plenty of campsites around the island that cater to all types of budgets and families. A quick Google search will show you where and how much. Unfortunately, I haven’t camped on the island … yet.
- Stay away from the crowds. Don’t book your trip in July and August. Remove yourself from the coast and visit the interior of the island where long treks, hikes or climbs await the adventurer in you.
I hope this helps. Thanks for sticking around with me these last 10 years, I can’t believe it’s already been 10 years. Here’s to another 10. Wishing you all well.
If you have any more questions on How to do Sardinia, then please leave me a comment below. I will try my best to answer each question. Happy Travels.