Where is Sardinia?
One thing you need to know about us Sardinians is that we are very proud people. Despite the many many faults we see in our land, we are very much in love with it. We call it paradise, and we often joke saying that when God created Paradise he in fact ended up creating Sardinia.
Sardinia is a stunning place, and those who visit inevitably fall in love with it. Many end up coming back, over and over. And it is not unusual for some of them to move here. That’s the story of my dad – he’s not originally from here, but as soon as he set foot here he fell in love with it. Soon enough, he fell in love with my mom.
I guess the rest is easy to figure out – not even when he had the opportunity of moving back to mainland Italy, where things are admittedly easier – because this is an island, after all – did he decide to go back and to move his family away. This is where he belongs. It is where we all belong.
In this post, I will answer the biggest question of all times: where is Sardinia? In a mix of anecdotes and facts, you will learn where this gorgeous island is located and get inspired to visit.
Where Is Sardinia, Actually?
A bit of geography
Do you actually know where is Sardinia? You see, not many people outside the Mediterranean basin have any idea of where is Sardinia. Perhaps, some in northern Europe do – thanks to mama Ryanair who brought many flights here.
Even those who know where is Sardinia don’t really know much about it. They have no idea what people in Sardinia look like, or how they live. To be fair, not many Italians used to know either. Remember how I told you that my dad had to move here for work? When his boss told him about the move, he warned him that although he may see it as a punishment, he’d thank him one day (he sure did). But what’s funny is that when my dad called his mom to tell him he’d be moved to Sardinia, she asked him what he’d done so bad to be punished in such a harsh way.
When grandma eventually got here for my parents wedding, she apparently exclaimed “oh, do you do have streets here!”
Yep, that’s how little people used to know about Sardinia.
So, let me clarify a few things for you and explain where is Sardinia and give you some basic facts.
Sardinia is that island at the very heart of the Mediterranean. It’s the second biggest island in the Mediterranean. It’s right below Corsica, another big island that belongs to France – from which it is roughly 13 km in the closest bit (known as Bonifacio Strait, locally known as Bocche di Bonifacio). And miles and miles away from Sicily, the biggest island in the Mediterranean. It’s about half way between Spain and Italy (it’s 200 km from the coast of Italy), and also about half way between Northern Italy and Northern Africa (only about 200 km separate if from Northern Africa).
With a surface of almost 24,100 square Km Sardinia is the third largest region in Italy after Sicily and Piedmont. Just to put things in perspective, Sardinia is actually bigger than Israel, which measures 22,145 square km. That’s how big it is!
There are about 1.6 million people living in Sardinia, with an average of 69 people per square km (against an average of 201 in Italy). To give you an idea of how empty it is, let me tell you that Sicily, which is about the same size as Sardinia, counts 5 million inhabitants. Israel, which is even smaller, counts more than 9. With so much space, traffic is hardly an issue here – except on hot summer weekends when everyone wants to go to the same beach, that is.
It is not always summer in Sardinia. In fact, we do get winters, and bitter ones too – especially in the mountains (yes, we do have those too).
Check out my post 13 Reasons To Visit Sardinia In Winter.
Sardinia is one of the five autonomous regions of Italy. This means we enjoy special status in matters of administration, but nearly not as much as some would like – some still argue that Sardinia should actually be an independent country.
Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and also its largest city in terms of inhabitants. The city itself counts around 170,000 people, but the metropolitan area amounts to up to 500,000. Cagliari is a hilltop city, but it’s right on the shores of the Mediterranean. Those who have been to Cape Town inevitably know the many similarities between the two cities. Cagliari is also where the main airport is located – the others are in Alghero, on the northwestern coast, and in Olbia, the main town of the very famous Costa Smeralda.
The second largest city is Sassari, which is located in the north of the island and close to the more famous Alghero.
Sardinia is a mythical land. It is Italy – sort of. And we Sardinians are Italian, at least on paper. We grow up speaking Italian at school, but we also speak Sardinian or Catalan, depending on where we grow up on the island. And please, don’t ever come ask us if we do speak the Sardinian dialect – because of course we do but, let me stress this one more time: Sardinian is a proper minority language, officially recognized by law 482/99, and of which there are many dialects.
Yes, we Sardinians are different. We feel like we are. We know we are. We call mainland Italy “the continent” – and as soon as we set foot on mainland we do feel a different vibe. It goes the same way the other way around: when Italians visit Sardinia they feel like they are in a different country altogether. They can’t quite say what it is – mostly just a vibe. But that’s what matters, right?
Also, did you know that Sardinia is one of the very few blue zones in the world? That’s right – the life expectancy in Sardinia is generally higher than in the rest of the world, and in Sardinia there is a large number (compared to the rest of the world) of men and women who are older than 100 years old. It is said that this is due to a combination of factors including the food, the wine, regular exercise, the weather and the social structure, by which we Sardinians remain very attached to our family and circle of friends and thus live a healthy, happy life.
Is Sardinia near Rome?
Do you have any idea of how frustrating it is for Sardinians to know that they live in the most beautiful place on earth and yet to realize that most of the world has not idea of where is Sardinia? Mind you – I don’t blame them. Take me for example – I am unable to place most African countries on a map.
But you see, when I travel and meet other travelers or even locals, I often have conversations where the second question I am asked after the most obvious “what’s your name” is “where are you from.” At times, I feel brave and say I am from Sardinia. Most of the time, I know people may have no idea of where is Sardinia (especially if I am in a remote place on the other side of the world) and I just say I am from Italy – because everyone knows where Italy is, right?
Then I get the other questions: which city? So I state it: I am from Cagliari, Sardinia.
That’s the look I get when I mention the word Sardinia.
And immediately after, I get other questions – is that near Rome? Is it in the North or South of Italy? Ohhh, Sardinia! Mafia! Errr well no, not really people. Sardinia and Sicily are two different places – besides, did you know that mafia is just another word for organized crime and that this exists – to a certain extent (and fortunately very little in Sardinia) – in pretty much every single country in the world?
My favorite though is the exclamation: “Oh! Beautiful” – which inevitably means “I have no idea where that is, but I will say it just in case to make you happy.”
Seriously guys, grant us a bit of a sense of humor right? If you have no idea where is Sardinia, just say it. We don’t mind! We will be happy to explain you, I promise!
Yet, the funniest “where is Sardinia” story I have dates back to my time at the University of Denver, Colorado. It was 2001, I was hanging out at the library with another Italian friend. Hearing us talk, a woman approached us to let us know how much she loved Italy and to let us know she’d recently been there.
She asked my friend where he was from. Bologna, he said. And she had been there, tried the food, visited the places. Then it was my turn. I told her I am from Cagliari, Sardinia. She gave me the typical “beautiful” for good measure, but her stare was blank.
I decided I wanted to be a bit mean that day and asked her if she’d been there. She quickly said she had not, really. But she drove by it once.
I thus told her that well, actually Sardinia is an island.
Are you sure? – she asked.
I truly wanted to laugh but I had to hold myself. She quickly added that, come to think of it, she once took a ferry and visited for a couple of hours. That’d be impossible, I told her: ferries to Sardinia take an average of 10 hours so you definitely can’t visit on a day trip, not on a ferry anyways!
What Sardinians want you to know
What many of us in Sardinia find aggravating is that people who consider visiting Italy skip Sardinia altogether. They don’t know where it is, they don’t know what the things to do here are, and they don’t care to find out.
Those who know where is Sardinia usually think that it is too expensive to travel here – it isn’t, really. Sardinia is just as expensive as Italy.
Make sure to check out my post Is Sardinia Expensive? A Local’s Perspective.
You see, Sardinia has a lot to offer. Marvelous beaches – rightly considered among the best in the world, and with a coastline of almost 1900 km! – mountains and nature reserves. Beautiful cities, quaint villages, unique archeological sites. Festivals, parades, delicious food and fabulous wines. Hiking and water sports. We really have it all. And we want you to discover it.
Yes, Sardinia has some faults. But It truly is a wonderful island, and we want you to discover it. So, now what you know where is Sardinia, make sure to visit!
Further readings about Sardinia
Make sure to read my other posts about Sardinia:
- Everything You Must Know About The Sardinian Flag
- How To Get To Sardinia: Routes From Italy And Europe
- Where To Stay In Sardinia: The Best Areas And Hotels
- 10 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Sardinia
- A Complete Guide To Cagliari
- The Most Incredible Day Trips From Cagliari
- The 15 Best Beaches In Sardinia
- A Great Sardinian Food Guide
- What To See And Do In Alghero Sardinia
- A Guide To Nuraghe In Sardinia
- What To See And Do In Bosa Sardinia
- The Nicest Small Towns And Cities In Sardinia
- The 12 Best Museums In Sardinia
- The Most Interesting Archeological Sites In Sardinia
- A Complete Guide To Costa Smeralda
- 29 Great Movies Filmed In Sardinia And About Sardinia
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