Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily). It is an autonomous region of Italy with a total area of 24,090 square kilometres and a population of 1.6 million. Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia, ruled by a special statute. The provinces are: Cagliari, Carbonia-Iglesias, Medio Campidano, Nuoro, Ogliastra, Olbia-Tempio, Oristano and Sassari.
The coasts are jagged and rocky and Sardinia's turquoise sea and white sandy beaches rival the best that the tropics can offer. The seaside landscapes, especially on the Costa Smeralda, are among the most beautiful in the world. Numerous small, enchanting islets are scattered in front of the coasts including the islands of Sant'Antioco & San Pietro, off the coast of Southwestern Sardinia, which offer all the charm and hospitality of Sardinia so far unspoiled by too much tourist development.
Sardinia is an ancient land with a fascinating history. There are many historic sites of great interest on the Island. There are about 7,000 "nuraghi" dotted around the Island. These are truncated cone towers made of huge stone blocks which were fortified dwellings of the earliest inhabitants of Sardinia. There are Roman ruins at Tharros on the western side of the Island and other Roman relics at Porto Torres and Cagliari. The National Archaeologic Museum of Cagliari is the most important museum in the island.
Away from the coast, the scenery is equally beautiful with forested mountain peaks, valleys of citrus groves and pastures of happily grazing cattle and sheep. Alghero, in Northwestern Sardinia, has a fascinating Catalan history and a delightful historic centre. Calgliari is historic and cosmopolitan at the same time, combining ancient traditions with the vibrant city life of a major 21st century capital city. Among the most important events hosted by the city is the festival of Saint Efisio. This procession takes place every year to commemorate the Saint, regarded as the protector of the city.
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