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If you are hankering for a European tour, why not consider the island of Sardinia, a region of southern Italy? Depending on your specific interests, this beautiful area can be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. Some parts of the island remain undiscovered by tourists, while others are jet-setter favorites and priced accordingly. This article presents southern Sardinia. Companion articles present northern Sardinia and central Sardinia.
We start our tour of southern Sardinia at its capital and largest city. Cagliari has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The old city, called the Castle, lies on a hilltop and offers an excellent view of the Gulf of Cagliari. The old white limestone city walls are mostly intact. Look for two Thirteenth Century white limestone towers, the St. Pancras Tower and the Elephant Tower. D.H. Lawrence, who wrote Sea and Sardinia and Lady Chatterly's Lover compared Cagliari to a "white Jerusalem".
You will find the fairly well preserved Second Century Roman Amphitheatre, an aqueduct, ancient cisterns, and the ruins of a small temple. During the summer the amphitheatre hosts open-air concerts, operas, and concerts. The Archeological Museum located in a Fourteenth Century castle contains many artifacts coming from Nuraghe, unique Sardinian stone structures. The nearby the Poetto beach is a whopping 8 miles (13 kilometers) long.
Pula is known for its lovely beaches, bays, and coves. Admire the flocks of flamingos in the marshes. Nearby lies the Phoenician site of Nora, perhaps Sardinia's oldest city. Ongoing excavations have uncovered many ruins from ancient Carthage and Rome.
In early May Nora and Cagliari host perhaps the greatest and most colorful religious procession in the world, the Festa di Sant'Efisio, honoring a martyr beheaded by a Roman soldier in 303 in Nora. According to popular belief this Saint's intervention stopped a deadly Seventeenth Century plague. In gratitude thousands of traditionally costumed marchers transport his statue back and forth from a Cagliari church to one in Nora. These festivities end with a torchlight parade.
What about food? Despite its magnificent coastline, native Sardinians don't seem to go very much for fish and seafood. But if you are on or near the coast you can get fish and seafood. Look for burrida, a fish soup sometimes based on shark. The area offers some of the best, albeit fairly expensive, lobster in Italy. Carignano del Sulcis DOC is produced in the southwestern tip of Sardinia mostly from the red Carignano grape.
Levi Reiss has authored alone or with a co-author ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would really rather just drink fine French, German, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel, wine, and food website www.travelitalytravel.com and his global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com.