When thinking about an artistic, cultural, scenic and especially foodie paradise, few places on earth conjure up images of absolute perfection as Italy. Far and wide, the peninsula offers an exciting, dazzling and surprising profusion of tastes, scents and wildly magical flavours. Each region proudly defends its roots and produce, making a trip to the Bel Paese an endless love story with ecstatic experiences: within this fabulous realm, Sardinia holds a special place. Famous for its blue waters and dazzling scenery, cultural riches and immense vistas, Sardinian food is real charm. And when the summer slowly drifts towards its end, the holidaymakers have left and you almost have the place to yourself, that’s when this sublime island magically strikes a chord – even more than it usually does.
Sardinia is always a good idea – make it an autumn escapade.
Visiting Sardinian means discovering a host of extraordinary traditions, gently reinterpreted by proud people. Food is held in high esteem, being almost sacred – like pretty much everywhere in Italy – but few can nurture traditional flavours as the Sardinians do. The simple, yet sublimely rich tones and fragrances found in Sardinian food remind us of modern concepts like “slow food” and “organic”: in truth, these have been part and parcel of Sardinia for centuries, the skilled hands of wise cooks, with food obtained directly from the source, offering the best of the best. It then comes as no surprise if every season brings its array of food devotion, autumn being no exception. You may taste bread and fall in love with it instantly, for here elevated to an art form: simply walk into a panetteria to get lost in the dazzling scents. There are countless types for all events, all meticulously made with the finest ingredients. What about pecorino cheese? You haven’t really tried the real one until you set foot on the island. Papassinos are delicious sweets, typically found in the winter, and then it’s the endless parade of cured meats, salami, and of course the famous porceddu, a suckling piglet that tastes divine
Nostalgia kicks in the moment you leave splendid Sardinia: that’s a (sad) truth. To make your holiday memories last longer, you could bring a piece of Sardinia with you – the many local artefacts are beyond extraordinary – or learn the tricks of the trade of Sardinian craft. This is made possible in the Barbagia region - Sardinia’s geographic and spiritual heartland - with the Cortes apertas event, held in September: this is your chance to go behind the scenes and see how those fabulous traditions and tastes come alive. With a series of exceptional experiences, you could learn how home-made pasta and desserts are made, olive oil is produced, wine is bottled, lavender is grown or honey prepared. Experience how gold and filigree are worked, while saffron is employed to dye clothes. Not to mention the delicious types of cheese - chiefly pecorino – that will melt your heart with their superb taste. Chestnuts also come alive in the autumn, with the town of Aritzo, at the foot of the Gennargentu, offering the best chestnut festival– the Sagra delle Castagne e delle Nocciole – in October. Yummy!
One word: excellence. This is how Sardinian wine is best defined and autumn is harvest time: from north to south, a staggering seven wine routes dot the island and mark a profoundly supreme territory. You could try the Strada del vino Cannonau: Sardinia’s most distinct red grape, an intensely flavoured fruity red, courtesy of Sardinian’s granite soil and mild climate, snakes around in the Nuoro, Mandrolisai and Ogliastra regions. The Strada della Malvasia di Bosa explores the secrets of a delightful dessert wine: the basalt soil of the western region is perfect for this smooth and sweet wine, its grape being cultivated in the Planargia region. Cagliari, in the south, is the ideal terrain for the cultivation of nuragus, Sardinia’s most typical white grape: follow the Strada dei Vini di Cagliari for a journey of the senses like no other. In the autumn, the town of Milis, by Oristano, hosts the Sagra del Vino Novello, an unmissable event to kick off your colder months. Let’s raise a glass!
Some say you can best observe a starry night when offshore of high up in the mountains, far from light pollution. Sardinia offers both, and the pure charm of a night spent observing stars and planets will stay with you forever, especially in the autumn months, when the haze of summer fades away. Silver skies can be studied with the Radio Telescope close to Cagliari, the biggest of its kind in Europe. Cagliari itself is home to a planetarium, and Capo Caccia in the north, by Alghero, is allegedly an ideal place to observe starry nights. Make the most of clear nights, typical of late summer and early autumn, and enjoy an extraordinary display of pure joy.
The Experience Hotel Su Gologone is the ideal place to wish upon a star – in every way. Come to the Terrace of Dreams and spend your evening with professional astronomers: you will be amazed at what marvels the sky can reveal.
This delicious dish combines the quintessentially Sardinian, paper-thin pane carasau with eggs and tomato, making it a super nutritious and scrumptious meal.
Preparation: 40 minutest. Serves 4
1 - Place the oil, onion and the garlic in a medium saucepan, over a medium heat. Fry gently, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent, for about 10 minutes. Add the passata and 60ml water, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season
2 - Poach the eggs in boiling water, one at the time, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny, about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside
3 - Heat the stock in the widest stockpot you have – it should be wider than the sheets of pane carasau. Dip a sheet of bread for a few seconds to soften it, then lift it up and ease it on a plate over a layer of tomato sauce. Top it with more tomato sauce and some grated pecorino. Repeat with two more layers per serving – each person gets three layers of bread – finishing with the sauce and cheese. Serve hot with a poached egg on top
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