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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

Tips for the traveler to Southern Sardinia

Cagliari, Sardegna
As much as I travel and as much as I thought I knew about Italy (and myself in Italy), my latest trip to Sardegna (Sardinia) taught me quite a few things, many of which would have been helpful to know before the trip. Though each of us will have our own experiences, I thought I would share some hindsight on my trip in case it can serve as tips for yours.

1. Figure out beforehand whether you (and your travel companions) are beach people and plan your trip accordingly.

It turns out that, though I love the sun and going and staying in the water for hours, I can't do it every day. Even with the crystal blue, perfectly temperate Sardinian waters, after about 3 beach days, I was ready for some city exploring- my travel partner, a non-water goer, even more so. Southern Sardegna in August at the Ferragosto holiday was not the best region in the world to explore cities. We were often window shopping at closed stores, reading menus of closed restaurants or wandering around empty streets... The beach: that is where the people are; that is where the action is.

2. Pack adequately for the beach, including your own lunches.

Sardinian beaches, unlike most beaches in central Italy (within an hour of Rome), are not overrun with stabilmenti (i.e. more or less legal establishments that have hijacked public beaches with a pretense of renting chairs and umbrellas for your utmost convenience at the "reasonable" price of 15-35 euro). Sardinian beaches are almost all lovely public beaches. We also lucked out by having former visitors of our B&B leave behind umbrellas which we could make use of. I, however, did not bring any other beach entertainment: books, magazines, crossword puzzle, goggles, anything really. Maybe this was Ryan Air's fault with their measly 10kg rule. Or maybe it was laziness. But one comment for vegetarians, the beach bars tend to only have tomato and mozzarella panini. Go to the grocery store to add some variety to your daily lunches.

Is Arutas- the little pearl beach!

3. Get recommendations from your Sardinian friends and other travelers to Sardinia, BEFORE your trip.

I have Sardinian friends. I know a lot of people who have been to Sardinia. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to ask them tips until the second day of our vacation by means of Facebook. We still had enough time to take advantage of some of the great suggestions that we were given (Is Arutas & Teurredda beach were two!), but come on! Getting suggestions from friends is out of Traveling 101!


4. Don't stop on the side of the road to observe/photograph flamingos.

Sardegna has flamingos! In everything I heard about Sardegna, I had never heard that, and it fascinated me. I am not 100% sure why. I just never thought that any part of Italy (or the Mediterranean for that matter) had wild flamingos. They transit through Sardegna in their migration south, but some of them have stayed and you can see them in the shallow marshes by the main roads of southern Sardinia. However, we never found any observatories to properly see them so we stopped by the side of the mainroad to snap a couple pictures. The police didn't like that, and they told us as much...

Fregola ai frutti di mare
5. Try the local dishes, but if you don't love all types of fish, don't be surprised if some dishes don't appeal to you.

I am a fish-eating vegetarian (pescatarian?), but fact of the matter is that I don't like a lot of fish/seafood anyway. I should have therefore guessed that I might not like cold fish marinated in vinegar and covered with nuts (burrida)... I do like couscous though, and Sardinia's version of couscous, fregola, was super yummy. Culurgiones (pasta stuffed with pecorino, potato and mint) were also exceptionally good.

6. Don't assume that Sardegna is like mainland Italy. 

This might have been the biggest of our flawed assumptions. Sardegna in my mind was like Sicily but wilder. It wasn't like Sicily. It wasn't like Puglia. It wasn't like Calabria. It wasn't like any one place we could think of. At varying moments throughout the trip, we compared it to Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo (DR), Novi Sad (Serbia), Romania, Spain (this one kind of made sense with the Spanish occupation) and a variety of other places. Sardegna had its own flag hanging prominently on buildings, car windows and tourist paraphernalia. It has its own beer (Ichnusa- yummy!), even its own potato chips. Sardegna is an autonomous region of Italy. And I think autonomous is the part that is emphasized. Certainly, Sardegna is like no other.

7. Last tip: Definitely rent a car, and enjoy!


  1. Your post really helped me to understand the . It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.That's what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.


  2. Fantastic post, and great advices, I am from Sardinia, I am working on some ideas to solve some of the issues you highlight... would you like to take this questionaire for me??

    maybe you can also share it with your friends...


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