I’ve written many posts about Sardinia, where to go, and what to do, but today I’m here to talk about something slightly different: who will you meet in Sardinia? What are the people of Sardinia like?
Let’s start this off with a disclaimer: there is no universal formula to describe a population thoroughly and without leaving anything out. Moreover, stereotypes exist everywhere and, although they often hide a certain amount of truth, they are just stereotypes: this post will not give you a full, perfect list of Sardinians’ personality traits and you shouldn’t take my words as absolute.
Let’s say I want to give you an idea of what people say about Sardinians, rather than presumptuously try to put whole of them in a box with a few labels on it. Anyways, curious to see what others say about Sardinians, and to learn a bit about what we say about ourselves? Continue reading!
What Are The People Of Sardinia Like?
Sardinians are Italian – sort of!
There is one thing called “Sardità” that is quite hard to explain to people outside of Sardinia. You see, the people of Sardinia, including myself, think of themselves as Sardinian even before they are Italian, a sentiment that goes beyond what’s written on their passport. Ask any Sardinian you may meet overseas where he or she is from, and there won’t be a shadow of doubt in the answer: “I am from Sardinia.” Only after which, “it’s part of Italy” is added.
Isolation has brought Sardinia to be quite different from the rest of Italy. It’s something you can’t quite put your finger on – after all, Sardinians do speak Italian (other than Sardinian, of course). And while Sardinia is certainly culturally close and similar to the rest of Italy, it also has common traits with other areas of the Mediterranean – Spain, first and foremost (and because of centuries of domination), but not only.
The differences between Sardinia and Italy are subtle, but certainly palpable!
Sardinians are welcoming
One of the first things you’ll hear from virtually anyone who’s been to Sardinia is that Sardinians are extremely welcoming: guests are considered sacred, and most locals would never even think of sending someone away.
The people of Sardinia go out of their way to give the best food and experience to a visitor: if you ask for directions, many of them would personally take you where you need to go; they’ll recommend you the best restaurants and beaches, and give you some advice on what to do and not to do in certain situations.
If you stay in a private apartment or Bed and Breakfast, rest assured that the owner will show you every corner of the place and probably the neighborhood, plus leave you something to eat on the day of your arrival, even if it’s just some bread and water, to let you know you’re welcome there.
There’s only one downside to this: it’s very difficult to say no because Sardinians are terribly stubborn.
The people of Sardinia are stubborn
The stubbornness of people in Sardinia shows in every aspect of life: it’s almost impossible to refuse something offered by a Sardinian because they will insist until you give up; they often spend hours bickering about the most futile things because no one would admit they’re wrong and everyone wants to prove their point.
Stubbornness is probably one of the island’s inhabitants’ most common features and one of the few that’s not a stereotype: Sardinians are stubborn. You can’t argue with them and hope you’ll win the discussion, and in case you manage to prove yourself right… well, they will probably tell you they let you win because they were tired of arguing.
Sardinian people are incredibly proud
This brings us to another common, stereotypical Sardinian feature: we, people of Sardinia, have a very, very strong pride. It’s not easy to offend us, because we’re generally easygoing, pacific people, but once you get on our nerves… it’s over.
And have a dry sense of humor
Sardinians like to play and joke about everything and anything, but everyone has their sensitive topics, right? Generally speaking, don’t joke about traditions and family, they’re the most common reasons for starting a fight… but I believe this is quite a universal thing, not a Sardinian special feature!
Being reserved is a merit
Another thing that’s pretty true about Sardinians is that they are quite reserved. I know I just said they are very easygoing, but that doesn’t mean they’ll tell you all their family secrets. They surely love to have a glass of wine and a casual chat (it all comes back to their welcoming nature) and they will gladly spend hours with you to put you at ease or just to keep you company.
Silence is a virtue
As I said before, Sardinians don’t like to share much about their private life and are, actually, not very talkative when among them. They greatly value personal space and silence and prefer communicating through small gestures rather than big speeches. A gift delivers the message in a better way than many words, after all.
As well as being straightforward
Sardinians are also known to be very straightforward, maybe because of their habit to speak few words: they don’t embellish their speeches, and when they say something, it just comes out as it is. This way of getting straight to the point is sometimes confused with rudeness rather than seen as an earnest way of talking and has given the locals the reputation of unsocial people, difficult to approach.
Sardinians are incredibly resilient
Now, you might be reading this post and wonder, why are there more negative than positive features here? I’ll tell you once again: although there’s some truth in my statements, they’re all based on stereotypes. And stereotypes are rarely positive because they’re usually created to bring people down.
But it’s thanks to these rumors about them that Sardinian people developed one of their best and common personality traits: their resilience. Resilience is the capability to adapt and overcome any given difficulty with positivity and often against all odds.
Some historians think that Sardinians became like this because of the numerous invasions and changes of political supremacies on the Island throughout the centuries. They were never really free (since the Punic era!) but they still managed to keep a distinct identity and not be erased by the countless new traditions brought by the conquerors.
This ability to stay alive and true to themselves despite the difficulties has stayed as a typical feature of Sardinians, who still nowadays are known to show great compassion and teamwork during times of trouble, and to cooperate to solve the problems all together. There have been several historic moments (recently as well) when they have shown their resilience to the world. Sardinians are in fact well known great workers, and they adapt easily to any new place and circumstance.
Elderlies add value to life
Resilience has also helped the people of Sardinia to live better, and statistically longer. In fact, the Island is one of the five “Blue Zones” in the world. A “Blue Zone” is a geographical area of variable extension, inside of which the population lives a considerably longer, healthier, and happier life.
The other four are scattered around the globe, and all five of them are still studied by various scientists; someone is even trying to create “artificial blue zones” through several social experiments.
Various factors make a certain area into a Blue Zone: if you’re curious about this topic, make sure to read my post Why Is Sardinia A Blue Zone?
This pretty much sums up the most common features and personality traits of Sardinian people. Like I said at the beginning of this post, take this information as just an extremely simplified list of clichés about the island. There are as many talkative Sardinians as reserved ones, as many naïve persons as there are wary ones, and so on. All people are different, although they often show similar habits and actions when put in the same socio-cultural context.
Make sure to read my other posts:
- Where Is Sardinia?
- What To Know Before Visiting Sardinia
- The Best Things To Do In Sardinia
- 11 Things Not To Do In Sardinia
- A Guide To Sardinian Food
- A Quick History Of Sardinia
- The Most Popular Sardinian Myths And Legends
10 thoughts on “The Lovely People Of Sardinia: A Local’s Description”
I want to go live in Sardinia but I need to do more research one of the concerns is , how to communicate is English widely popular language?
It depends. In the main city, Cagliari where I live, and also in Alghero and in all tourist spots, people speak English – some definitely better than others. In smaller, more local places, it will be harder for sure.
So nice artickle! 🙂 Everything what I read reminds so much lithuanian mentality (I am from Lithuania), and I plan to visit Sardegna on September. It is so cool to read and understand that what is written generally about Sardegna people, in mentality suits so much to my nation, or at least to my region people and me. 😀 we also had such a history, a small nation, which have been oppresed by Russian empire, then German regime, etc., but we kept and have very strong national identity, which made lithuanians to be stubborn, in some regions – stubborn and reserved, very straightforward, but very hospitable and very honest, warm and friendly people, especially if you know them better personally, in some regions – very outgoing and talkative, easy to communicate with, and as you said, that there is no one general portrait of a whole nation. Just my personal feeling resonates a lot with what is written in this artickle 🙂
I enjoyed so much your blog and artickles, it is very informative and interesting. I visited Sardegna with my family when I was a teenager, now, I am waiting so much to explore this island and cultural traditions and sights of it (I have a huge passion to archaic polyphonic singing traditions, so my one of the dreams is to visit Cantu a Tenore museum in Sardegna) and explore island in more other ways than before with other eyes and I am so happy to come to this stunning island in all aspects, again on September.
The best greetings to you, from Lithuania!
Thank you so much for leaving a comment, Greta! I hope you get to visit Sardinia again soon. Certainly let me know if you do. I haven’t been to Lithuania myself – but I had a Lithuanian friend when I lived in the US and he was a lovely lovely person!
I recently visited my parents hometown, Ozieri. It was a wonderful experience. I plan on returning and hopefully connecting with relatives.
I am glad you loved it!
Thanks for the interesting article, I am wondering is they a possibility for renting a house and if so what would the price range be on the cheaper ones.
Make sure to look for the “accommodation” section in the menu bar (under visit Sardinia) and it will bring up all sorts of posts on accommodation.
I enjoyed your article so much thank you, And you have probably strengthened the relationship and understanding of me and my father, I was born and raised in England and he was born and raised in a very small village in the mountains of Sardegna. So almost everyone around me underestimates the differences in culture, they just label you as half Italian just like someone that has a parent born in Rome and assume its the same thing, they couldn’t be more wrong as I’m sure any Sardinian that has travelled would know, growing up was a struggle to understand each other( anyway enough about my life story) it’s just nice that I have blogs with personal opinions and other information online to further educate myself on my heritage,
Grazie mille 🙂
You are most welcome!