|Sardegna - unknown corner of paradise by a first-time visitor||| Print ||
Republished with permission - By first-time visitor OKSANA, Pianist & Composer (& Sardinian husband)
It is unfortunate that not too many are aware of this corner of paradise. Being born and raised in Russia for my first 15 years, and another 10 here in Tampa Bay, I wasn't too familiar with it myself, until I went there for the first time with my Italian husband, Alex, who practically grew up there. Sardegna, the island that with French Corsica looks like a big foot, is indeed one of the most beautiful places on earth. Just recently, you have heard about President Putin visiting with Italy's prime minister and other high-ranking officials in the luxurious resorts of Costa Smeralda - The Emerald Coast. That's where all the rich and famous hang out. A true paradise, even though a bit pricey for most.
You may also like to know that there are many Americans on the island of Sardegna, living or visiting within the several Navy and Air Forces bases located there. It was in fact there that I performed my very first international concert, right on Piazza Comando, the main square of the Island of La Maddalena. Even though I openly confessed on stage that "il mio Italiano fa schifo" (my Italian sucks) I was welcomed by both the Italian and the American members of the crowd that formed around my stage. Fortunately, my Italian has since progressed, and now I can proudly say that I can understand and/or say just about anything, without offending anyone. (And I do have some funny stories to share, believe me!!)
Sardegna is a very unique place indeed. Having cruised it up and then throughout the 2 weeks I was there , I was exposed to most of the peculiarities of this place. For instance, Sardegna, only about 300 miles long and 200 wide, counts 4 main dialects, each different from the other. In the north, you find "Gallurese". As you go south, you'll hear "Logudorese". In the central part they speak "Oristanese", and down by the capital, Cagliari, you'll hear "Campidanese", a dialect that most Sardinians make fun of, as it tends to stress double consonants even when they are not there. There is also an "Algherese", with a strong correlation to Spanish, as the city of Alghero - and to a degree the rest of Sardegna - was at one point occupied by the Spaniards. This explains the nature of so many "S" ending last names, which for all practical purposes, could pass for Spanish last names. Many last names ending with the vowel "U" are also very popular in Sardegna. (Canu, Nieddu, Casu, etc.)
If you have ever followed a little of body building, (I love muscles!) I am sure you've heard of one of the greatest bodybuilders ever, Franco Columbu, born and raised in Sardegna, who became Mr. Universe - or similar title - and worked closely with, and perhaps even competed against Governor Terminator himself . During my stay, I had a chance to observe that Sardinian people are very unique. They do not like to conform with the rest of Italians, and for years they have striven to obtain independence from the rest of the peninsula. Generally speaking, they are very proud and very honest, and take friendship very seriously . Honor means more than life itself to them. I hear that they can take the breaking of a promise or similar offense very bad, much more so than any other culture I know.
In spite of what you may have heard about the 'bandits', Sardegna is a very safe place, and the food is out of this world.... whether you like fish, steak, pasta, or anything on the varied and affordable menus of the many "Centri Agroturismo" spread all over the island, you will get the absolute freshest catch or prime cuts. If you are into cheeses, you have come to the right place.... Their "pecorino" is to die for (please note: do NOT call it 'pecorina!!" - I made that mistake and have everyone fall off their chairs in laughter and dismay, at the same time...!) - They also have a "delicatessen" that is not recommended for the faint of heart.... a special cheese "formaggio con i vermi" that has been 'cured' with many tiny worms, to be enjoyed with a glass of Vino Rosso once they finish their course as larvae and turn into little flies and have flown away. - at least most of them... I had to prove I was a tough Russian, so yes, I ate some of it. Tell you the truth, it wasn't bad at all! And here I am, hanging to my favorite quote "what doesn't kill you...makes you stronger."
The main Sardegnan cities are Cagliari, down south, which is the capital of Sardegna; Sassari on the northwest coast, Oristano and Nuoro in the center. The climate was fair throughout my stay and I hear that the past summer was incredibly dry and hot. I had it easy... 70's all the way, even during the most amazing boat ride in the midst of an ocean with the most amazing clear water I have ever seen in my entire life.
It is definitely a part of Italy that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. I have been invited to perform there again next summer, so any of you out there who will want to tag along, please come forward and let's see what can be done. You may email me or visit my website at www.oksana-k.com.