We’ve all dreamed of owning a home on some far-away exotic island where they don’t speak English and life is the clichéd dolce vita. The town of Ollolai, a luscious green zone in the Barbagia region of Sardinia, are now selling abandoned homes for €1. Shocking but true. The internet has lit up from joyous dreamers who want to pack it in and live the la dolce vita, I mean who wouldn’t want a taste of this attainable dream, for only $1.52CAD you too can stop dreaming and make it a reality. But how…? Continue reading
Category Archives: How To’s
Answering Your Questions on Sardinia, Italy by Jennifer Avventura
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. Continue reading
The naked truth on nude beaches in Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia is a mecca for beach lovers, and with over 1849 kilometres of beautiful, pristine coastline, it’s no wonder naked vacationers return year after year. It’s easy to see why, with miles of glorious, sandy beaches and award-winning panoramas. It’s a place where endless turquoise waters meet rugged coastlines and where the world comes to play each summer.
Did you know?
It’s illegal to get naked on a Sardinian public beach.
That Sardinia hosts very few, secluded nude beaches (so few, in fact, I can’t find any resources on legal nude beaches in Sardinia) and if caught in the buff on a beach in Italy that the fine is hefty – very hefty!
Do you know the difference between a topless beach and a nude beach?
What is a topless beach?
A topless beach is a public beach where upper body clothing is optional for men and women. Most beaches in Italy are topless beaches.¹
A general rule of thumb is to look around and see what others are doing. If there are hundreds of people on the beach – dressed in their beach best, then you should stay dressed in your beach suit.
A little incident that happened…
I parked my pasty-white Canadian butt on the hot, white sand and noticed that every other woman was topless and thought – I’m in Italy, I’ll go topless too! Continue reading
Learning Italian: The verb to like
Welcome back for another installment of Learning Italian with Jennifer Avventura. This week we take a close look at the verb to like – Piacere. I hate this verb with every fiber in my being. I started to study Italian 5 years ago using a fabulous work book called Italian Now Level 1 by Marcel Danesi and I have just dusted it off in hopes to get this one verb mastered. This book has been a god send and I recommend it to anyone who is just beginning to learn Italian.
Piacere – to like
I’m tired of asking people “piace?” when I should say “ti piace” or “vi piace” depending on whom I’m speaking to.
Then things get really confusing if the noun is plural, not only do you have to change the article, you also have to change the noun and the verb! In English we have one article ‘the,’ however, in Italian there are seven and they are gender specific – il, i, lo, l’, gli, la, le.
Here’s a little exercise I did using the verb ‘piacere.’
Can you see all the eraser marks? It wasn’t an easy chapter to master and I’m still learning the basics of this very difficult verb.
Here’s a little hint:
Are you left confused by all this madness? Don’t worry, so am I.
Non mi piace il verbo piacere. Non e facile a imparare questo verbo e la mia testa gira quando devo pensare per piacere! Pero, mi piace mangiare pizza. Vi piace mangiare pizza?
How did I do above?
Can you offer any advice on how to master this difficult Italian verb?
For more in this series:
Learning Italian – At the local doctor’s office
Learning Italian – The ancient Italian coffee machine and an expat accident
Learning Italian – Studying for the Italian driving permit
Learning Italian – At the Gynecologist
Learning Italian – You said what?
Learning Italian – An attempt to learn Italian prepositions
How to buy property in North Sardinia
The search engines have spoken and thousands of you want to know how to buy property in Sardinia, Italy.
I’m here to show you the easy way.
How to buy property in Sardinia, Italy
The easy way is to find an agent you trust; and I know a lot of you trust me otherwise my inbox wouldn’t be filled with questions like:
- How do I buy a small house in Sardinia with a plot of land for a garden?
- I’d like to retire to Sardinia but I don’t speak Italian?
- My husband and I would like to move to Sardinia with our family but we don’t speak Italian and haven’t a bank account in Italy, what do we do?
How do you find an agent you can trust and one that speaks fluent Italian and fluent English?
That’s another easy question that I can answer. I’ve worked closely with a company based in Budoni, Sardinia who have helped English speakers just like you find their dream home in paradise, and who have gone above and beyond their agent duties to make sure every last-minute detail is taken care of.
Immobiliare Orizzonte Casa Sardegna is the agent for you.
Bruno Pala is the owner and agent of Immobiliare Orizzonte Casa and is fluent in Italian and English. British born, he has over 15 years’ experience living, working and selling property from the coast to mountain towns in Sardinia.
He has successfully helped British buyers find their dream house and these buyers now call Sardinia home, all year round.
Immobiliare Orizzonte Casa Sardegna will help you:
- Get your Italian tax code
- Set up an Italian bank account
- Will prepare for the purchase and sale of the home
I live on the Northwest coast of Sardinia and am totally biased to the emerald hues, red granite pillars of strength and the gracious hospitality from the Islanders. For the last six years, Sardinia has been my home, my sanctuary, my life force and the place my soul has found to rest.
She can also be yours.
Sardinia’s rugged, unspoilt coastlines are unforgettable moments you can make last a lifetime, and your first move is to decide where in the north you’d like to call home.
The two major airports in North Sardinia are Alghero and Olbia. Both are serviced by low-cost airlines and national carriers. The driving distance between the two airports is roughly 2 hours, but if you’re like me and stop to smell the roses, and you will here in paradise, the drive will be enjoyable.
North Sardinia’s Hot Property Spots
- Costa Paradiso
- Golfo Aranci
- Porto Cervo
- San Teodoro
- Santa Teresa di Gallura
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers and, as of January 1st, 2014 the Italian resale tax on property has been lowered making this the time to buy your dream property in Sardinia.
What’s in your wallet is none of my business but expect to buy a property from €65,000 to €3 million; the latter price tag was bought by Roman Abramovich who last year bought a whopper of a villa in Costa Smeralda.
There are also plenty of moderately priced properties for sale with stunning views and mountainous terrain outside the glitz and glamour of the Emerald Coast in areas like:
- San Teodoro
Now that you have decided to call Sardinia your home, why not give Immobiliare Orizzonte Casa Sardegna a call. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed, you can even tell them that I sent you.
Bruno Pala – Agent & Owner
Orizzonte Casa Sardegna – Budoni
Via De Gasperi, 18 Budoni
Tel: +39 07841896176
Cel: +39 3932364058
Happy house hunting from our home to yours.
Learning Italian: Studying for the Italian Driving Permit
Driving in Italy is not for the faint of heart. The curves, the speed, the mountains, the goats, cows, dogs and kids, and the dreaded stick shift. I was crowned queen of the road in nineteen-ninety-two in a small town on the outskirts of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The first time my father taught me to drive I was thirteen years old, and his blue Ford Bronco had aged significantly despite its young years. We were driving old country roads out by the old Avondale store on Stewart Road, the Rolling Stones sang i can’t get no satisfaction on the dust filled, static speakers. Memories were being made, moments to remember.
Then we hit a ditch and ended up sideways.
It was sensory overload, the happiness, the stones, the ice cream parlour, my first taste of freedom and the large curve in the road.
For some reason, unbeknownst to my thirteen year old self, I had thought the old Bronco would automatically straighten out, I didn’t realize I had to control it with the steering wheel. I was only driving 10 kilometers per hour when we found ourselves tilted sideways in the ditch with the ice cream shop not far in the distance.
We roared with laughter, changed places in the truck and went for ice cream.
Four years after that incident when I was seventeen, I got my license to drive in Canada.
Today, twenty-one years after being honoured with a Canadian driving license, I am not legally able to drive, in any country. My Canadian license expired this past October, and to renew I must visit the DMV in Canada, in person.
Did you know:
- If you are planning to move to Italy and have a driving permit from outside of the European Union, you can legally drive in Italy for one year provided you have an international driving permit.
- After one year driving with an international driving permit, you are required by law to take the exam for the Italian driving permit.
- All tests are in Italian.
- Here’s an awesome link which provides exam questions to study for the Italian license.
I’ve been in Italy almost six years and think I’m finally ready to take the official exam. I’ve teamed up with other expats in Italy who are also studying for the Italian driving permit or Foglio Rossa.
Leah from Help! I live with my Italian mother-in-law started a wonderful group on FB called Help! I need my Foglio Rossa where we can support each other in our endeavour to become road warriors.
I finally took the on-line test, in Italian, and did better than I had expected. There are 40 questions, some with diagrams and you have thirty minutes on the clock. Good luck.
This one threw me for a loop! I still don’t understand it’s meaning nor what the sentence says.
Now if only driving stick shift were as easy as studying for the Italian driving permit, I’d be set.
What I learned today:
- I need to study a lot more.
- Groups like Help! I need my foglio rossa will help me achieve this goal.
- Italian driving exams are all sorts of crazy.
- I will need the support and guidance from said group in achieving this goal.
Check out expat Elizabeth’s tales of woe in Umbria – My Italian Driver’s License Part 1: House Arrest. For the sake of our sanity – let’s drive! 🙂
Can you offer any tips, whether it’s driving stick shift or taking the exam?
- Driver License Clone or Novelty (brandonndip.wordpress.com)
How to make mouth-watering meatballs from the mountains of Sardinia
Sardinia is a culinary delight and nothing would please me more than to cook like the grandmothers who have baked and cooked for generations. The times I go walkabout, and it’s generally in the winter, the wafts of delightful delicacies that breeze through the crisp Mediterranean air leaves my mouth-watering and my stomach wanting the recipe.
My Italian language skills are decent enough to ask the women in the shops “Come fa le polpette?” They are more than eager to share the recipe from their grandmother’s kitchen, and I’ve taken their advice into my home and made it my own.
I’ve experimented with my meatballs and have come up with three different methods of cooking: bake, fry or add raw to tomato sauce. I’ve slowly improved and continue to ask the women in town for their advice. It’s a warm fuzzy friendship.
If you’ve followed this blog long enough, you will know that I don’t measure the ingredients, I eye-ball everything, plus, the leftovers always taste better the next day.
How to make mouth-watering meatballs
- 400 grams ground beef (this makes about 4 meals for 2 adults in my home)
- bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- salt & pepper
- The above ingredients are for your basic meatball, now let’s spice it up a bit.
- finely chopped garlic, carrot, onion or zucchini
- Adding too many ingredients takes away the intended flavour – keep it simple.
How to make meatballs in the oven:
- Throw all ingredients together in a bowl and mix.
- Use a tablespoon as measurement; ball together the beef mixture into the palm of your hand until round and slightly firm.
- Roll meatball in bread crumbs and set in oven pan.
- Set oven at 200.
- Bake 25 minutes for medium size meatballs.
- This is one of the healthiest options, I’ve made them in the oven several times and they were good, but dry.
How to fry meatballs:
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Use a tablespoon as measurement and ball mixture until round and slightly firm.
- Roll meatball in bread crumbs and set aside.
- Fill frying pan with desired oil and cook until golden brown; heat oil.
- If you have tomato sauce you can add the meatballs now. Oh, and here, in the mountains of Sardinia we don’t pare meatballs with pasta, no, never, it’s not even talked about, trust me, I’ve tried.
- Not so healthy this option but super delicious, as with all things fried.
How to make meatballs in tomato sauce:
- Okay, we get the gist of making meatballs now, right?
- Make your meatballs and add it your boiling tomato sauce.
- Cook for 35-40 minutes, stir slowly on medium heat.
- Want to know how to make tomato sauce like an Italian? That’s the link to my most popular post, be sure to read the comment section for more tips for a great tomato sauce.
I used to think it was gross to add raw meat to cooking tomato sauce, then one day a friend was over and we were chatting meatballs. He asked me how I made mine and I told him I fried them, then put them in tomato sauce. He looked at me quizzically and said “perche non metti direttamente nel sugo?” It was a good question and the following day I just did just that, and the meatballs turned out superb, I’ve made them like this ever since.
Happy Meatball making.
How do you make your meatballs? Share your recipe in the comment section below.
- Meatballs on a Stick (posimagine.wordpress.com)
- Off To Mama’s Meatballs (aakatzeff.wordpress.com)
Update: How you can help rebuild Sardinia, Italy in the wake of Cyclone Cleopatra
On November 18th, 2013 a powerful cyclone crushed Sardinia killing 16 people. Nine days have passed since that dark day and islanders are still coming to terms with the loss of lives and damage to homes, roads, businesses and schools.
Schools are without chalk, paper, pens, books and hope. Makeshift schools have been set-up as the cyclone shattered the dreams and walls of young hopefuls.
Entire communities have stopped daily activities to help in the aftermath of this deadly cyclone. People from all walks of life have given the warm clothes off their back to wet and dreary survivors.
It will take years to rebuild Sardinia. Six months of rain crushed Sardinia in twenty-four hours causing landslides, mudslides and severe flooding. The most affected areas are in the Gallura and Olbia. Sixteen people are dead, including two children, about 2,300 people have lost their homes, forty-three people wounded, including three seriously, and one family is still desperately searching for their missing relative.
Here’s how you can help:
- Share this message with your friends and family via the social media buttons at the bottom of this post. I can’t begin to tell you how many people have written me stating they have not even heard of the cyclone that hit Sardinia.
- To make a monetary donation to the comune of Olbia follow the banking details: Account: n. 0540 – 070361388
IBAN: IT72U 01015 84980 000070361388
BIC/Swift Code: BPMOIT22XXX
Reference: Comune di Olbia Emergenza Alluvione
- Visit the following site SardSOS: Emergenza It’s a fabulous site, complete with map of affected areas, how to help and survivors stories.
- 60 communites were hit by Cleopatra, to donate to other areas in Sardinia please visit Donazioni Alluvione Sardegna: Ecco come fare, tutti i Numeri e i Conti Correnti utili! here you will find an entire list of bank details.
- Visit the Red Cross Italy site for more information on how to donate.
***The above links are all in Italian, if you need help translating please let me know, I’d be more than happy to help.
There has been an abundance of solidarity between the islanders in the wake of this natural disaster, a solidarity so strong it can only be called Sardegna.
Sardinia needs your help, and the children need schools rebuilt.
BREAKING NEWS: A fire ripped though a laundromat in Olbia destroying the donated clothing for those displaced.
It’s time to make a difference, it’s time to make a change. Donate.
I want to live in Sardinia – answering your questions
Once in a blue moon this little blog receives an email about the cost of living in Sardinia, Italy and today I am answering one readers email.
Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate that you follow along My Sardinian Life and I hope I can shed some light on your decision to move to Sardinia, Italy.
Your questions answered:
“Based on various information, most importantly your blog, it seems to me living a simple life in Sardinia would cost us (couple with a little one on the way) 12K€ per year. That is, including rent, insurance, food, transport (thankfully we can drive since we’re EU), etc. There doesn’t seem to be any rent under 350 euro/month on the various immo web sites, insurances would add a hundred, 400 for food, 50 for gas, leaving a hundred for the rest & incidentals. Seeing the GDP per capita is less then 20K, it seems to me that jobs paying 1000 net per month are not to be found on Sardinia. So my first question would be: do you think we are completely off the charts with our budgeting 12K/yr for a simple life in Sardinia?“
Searching for the simple life in Sardinia can be done but will need patience and hard work.
Any apartments closer to the sea will cost you more. If you move away from the sea even just 15 minutes you can lower your monthly rent by a good €50. Also, don’t be afraid to haggle with your landlord about prices. If you decide to move to Sardinia in the middle of August expect rent to soar! Try moving here sometime between September – March when most rentals are empty.
We are a two person household and I spend about €120 a week on groceries. This includes: food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoos & soaps. Food is expensive in Sardinia. Yesterday my husband came home from the local farmers with: 3 melons, 2 watermelons, a crate of figs, 2 onions, one giant peach, 4 cucumbers and 5 zucchini, he paid €25 – at a discounted rate.
Gas is cheaper in the larger cities like: Sassari, Tempio, Cagliari and Nuoro. If you find yourself in an out-of-the-way little town with a car running on fumes expect to pay at least .20c more. We live in a small little town and if I look out my window I can see the price of gas: €1.77 a litre.
I work in the hospitality industry which is very seasonal (only two months a year) in Sardinia and I make €1500 a month. This is because I have over 23 years experience serving the public and I speak English. I would never settle for €1000 a month. Others that are doing the same job as me are making between €1000 – €1700 a month. Be ready to haggle for your salary like I have done.
In the off-season I teach English to school aged children and I charge €15 an hour. Those with a degree in English charge anywhere from €20 – €45 an hour.
Do I think you are completely off the charts with budgeting 12K/yr for a simple life in Sardinia? No. But I would try to find a job considering you have a little one on the way.
Like you our Italian is cosicosi, then again, we’d need to speak the local dialect more then Italian. You say on your blog for the kind of jobs you are looking for you need Italian. I’m wondering, how well does one get away with basic Italian in daily life? Outside of your town, are you being looked at as a tourist as soon as you “open your mouth” and being treated as a tourist, or is integrating with the locals and being treated as one feasible? What is your experience having lived there a few years? Can one feel “at home” after a while and be treated as “a local”?
I don’t speak the local dialect to anyone but my husband and nor should you. Most locals are offended if you speak dialect. Study Italian and study a lot. Every Sardinian speaks Italian and will understand you when you are at their shop ordering chicken cutlets for dinner. Learning and understanding the dialect will come with time and patience but its most important to learn Italian first. Just forget that a local dialect even exists.
I’ve now been in Sardinia 5.5 years. The first year(s) I was treated like a tourist but that soon faded when the locals saw my face every morning in their shops. I am now considered half Sardinian and I have integrated myself into their lives with much patience, understanding and a few flubbed upped words. Locals are more curious about your life and who you are. They are very welcoming, kind and completely honest but you must make the first move. Be sure to say buongiorno when entering shops even if you don’t see anyone.
Well JP, I hope this answers your questions. Please fell free to add any more questions in the comment section below.
And to any of my Sardinian followers: if you have any insight for JP and his family please speak up.
Sardinia’s Deadly Streets
From my safe, comfortable living-room I can hear ambulance sirens ring out, and I hope this time nobody has lost their life but it’s never that easy in Sardinia as every summer hundreds of people die on Sardinia’s deadly streets.
The statics are staggering, sad and preventable: every
year day hundreds of people die on the streets of Sardinia from speed alone. The period between May to September is the worst time for street accidents as the roads are full of tourists who do not know how to drive on these curvy mountain roads.
Below are a few links related to deadly car accidents in Sardinia.
Car accidents in Sardinia a complete up-to-date list of road accidents in Sardinia.
Two dead in car accident in Sardinia
massacre on the streets of Sardinia: Two dead in Badesi
Sardinia – the cold, the wind, the sun … the car accident.
Most accidents in Sardinia are speed and alcohol related. Most of these accidents take the lives of innocent people who were just out for a morning ride on their Vespa.
Here are a few pointers on how to drive and stay alive in Sardinia
- Wear your seatbelt at all times
- Know the rules of the road for the country you are in
- Use caution
- If you are lost, pull-over and ask for directions
- Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by Sardinia’s beauty while driving
- Keep your eyes on the road
- Use a GPS or a passenger to help with maps and directions
- Allow the speeders behind you to pass by slightly yielding to the right
- Never drink and drive. Ever!
On August 17th, 1997 I was pulled over for speeding and the police officer gave me two choices:
- Pay the hefty $500 speeding fine, or
- Go to an eight-hour lecture on road safety at the local university.
I choose option number 2, as on August 19th I was headed to Australia for a year of backpacking and I needed that $500 to help support my nomadic lifestyle.
The lecture was a lecture of the best kind; complete with a slide show of the after effects of speeding and alcohol related accidents. I saw photos of cars that were demolished beyond recognition, photos of people with blood running down their face and even of people dead in their car, on the side of the road, in a tree, bush and on the other side of the highway. I was scared. Scared to death to speed again.
After that lecture as I was driving home slightly under the speed limit, I saw the aftermath of a car accident, a truly strange coincidence. It must have happened only seconds before my arrival as I saw people crawling out of the median ditch with blood splattered faces, their cars upside down, smashed and demolished. At that moment fear took hold of me and I vowed to never speed again.
It’s not possible for me to write only about the glitter and sand in Sardinia when there’s a whole other truth to be told.
Don’t let the sirens from an ambulance be the last thing you hear while on vacation in paradise.
Don’t drink and drive. Arrive alive.