the second-largest island in the
Mediterranean. Much of Sardinia away
from the coasts is an almost lunar
landscape of crags and chasms and is
largely uninhabited. In recent years,
there has been much investment in
tourist infrastructure, particularly in
the northern area known as the Costa
Smeralda and on the west coast near Alghero. This is the only region in
Italy without motorways. The Sardinian
language is closer to Latin than is
Cagliari, the capital, stands in a
marshy valley at the south of the
island. It was founded by the
Phoenicians and subsequently expanded
by the Romans, who knew it as Carales.
It is today a busy commercial port and
site of most of the island’s heavy
The only other towns of any size are Sassari,
in the northwest near the resort area
around Alghero; Nuoro, an
agricultural town on the edge of the
central massif, a good base from which
to explore the interior; and Olbia,
a fishing port and car-ferry terminus
on the edge of the Costa Smeralda.
There are numerous Bronze Age remains
throughout the islands, the best known
being the nuraghi – circular
(sometimes conical) stone dwellings.
The largest collection of these may be
found at Su Nuraxi, about 80km
(50 miles) north of Cagliari.
Beach resorts include: Santa
Margherita di Pula, Alghero, Santa
Teresa, Porto Cervo, Capo Boi and the
island of La Maddalena.