Biology by other means

Location

Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia with its app. 1,800 kilometres of coastline, is one of the most popular destinations for people who loves aquatic sports and seaside holidays, not only for its natural beauty and geographical position but also for its history. The sea around this large Mediterranean Island (second only to Sicily in size among all Mediterranean Islands) is among the most beautiful and transparent in all of the world. D.H. Lawrence in his famous book 'Sea and Sardinia' wrote that Sardinia was a land like no other. Sardinia is also a land rich of history an cluture witnesses. The numerous "nuraghi" which are spread all over the island, occupy a very relevant place among the archeological sites that have been left in the Western Mediterranean basin by the various cultures which have, over the centuries, lived in these lands. These majestic buildings have a prominent role in the Sardinian landscape so much so that they remain stamped on the visitor's mind as a characteristic image of this mysterious and extraordinary land and are a symbol and emblem of a whole population.
Its capital is Cagliari, located in the Southern part of the island.

More info about Sardinia: The island of Sardinia, The local government tourist site

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Climate

The climate in Sardinia is typically Mediterranean and the influences of the sea are present all around the island. It is characterized by long, warm summers and short, mild winters, accompanied by the blowing of the north-west wind
The average temperature in September is 27 degrees Celsius (81 Farenheit) with an average precipitation of 31 mm (1.2 in).

A bit of history ...

Sardinia's history dates back to 150,000 BC. In Prehistory Sardinia's inhabitants developed commercial relationships with most of the Mediterranean inhabitants. From the Neolithic Period until the Roman Empire, the island hosted the Nuragic civilization. Nowadays, there are still thousand of Nuraghes living there.

The Phoenicians established colonies around modern-day Cagliari three thousands year ago. In 509 BC, the natives and the Phoenician settlers were at war. The settlers asked Carthage for help and later the island became a province in the Carthaginian Empire. In 238 BC, Carthage ceded Sardinia to Rome. The Romans enlarged the coastal cities and ended the Nuragic civilization.

Julius Caesar declared it a Roman municipality in 46 BC, but with the fall of Rome's power times became difficult and, in 456, the Vandals occupied the coastal cities of Sardinia. The island was reconquered by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and divided into districts called " mereie". Christianity started to spread, except in the Barbagia region, where by the end of 500 an independent kingdom started to rule.

When, in 827, the Arabs started raiding Sicily, Sardinia was left alone to defend itself. The "judex provinciae" became its supreme leader, with civil and military powers. The island was divided into four districts: Gallura, Logudoro, Arborea, and Cagliari. In a few decades, these districts became fully independent monarchies.

The emerging rival sea powers of Genoa and Pisa started getting interest in the island. In 1258 the Pisans took Cagliari, fortified the Castello area and replaced the local population with Pisans.

In 1323, the Kingdom of Aragon tried to conquer Sardinia. The last district to be defeated in the Battle of Sanluri in 1409 was Arborea. The native population of Alghero was expelled and the city repopulated by the Catalans, whose descendants still speak Catalan.

In 1479, the Kingdom of Spain was born, the Catalans themselves were subordinated to the Spaniards and the Kingdom of Sardinia remained as a part of Spain during 400 years, until 1720. In 1620 the city's university opened its doors.;br />
Many spanish traditions can still be recognized today in the traditional processions of S. Efisio in Cagliari (May 1st), the "Cavalcata" in Sassari (in May) and the "Redentore" in Nuoro (August 29th). In 1708, after the Spanish War of Succession, the government of Sardinia was ceded to the Austrians.

In 1717 Spain occupied Sardinia again and one year later, with the Treaty of London, Sardinia was ceded to the Duchy of Savoy, princes of Piemonte. The Kingdom of Sardinia became Italian.

The first street lighting appeared in 1811 and a regular postal service with Genoa was established in 1835. King Carlo Felice built a modern highway to Sassari that still bears his name today.

In 1848 the italian Independence wars started and Italy became one. They were carried out by the Sardinian Kings during 13 years. In 1861, the Kingdom of Sardinia became Kingdom of Italy and the Italian State was born. In 1946, with the popular referendum, Italian became a Republic. Nowadays, Sardinia is one of the twenty Italian regions.

Cagliari was heavily bombed in WWII, and in 1948 the city was awarded a medal for the bravery of its people.

One of the most important postwar successes was the elimination of malaria from the Sardinian coast in the 1950s - this allowed the development of coastal tourism that today forms a pillar of Sardinia's economy.

Nowadays, there is a delicate balance to be struck between modernisation and preserving the island's unique native character. Luckily, there has been renewed interest in and appreciation of traditional Sard culture and artisanship, which were repressed for so many centuries.

Food

Sardinia is one of the favourite destinations of also for its rich gastronomy based on ancient recipes. Its vegetation has stimulating scents: saffron, rosemary, bay leaf and mint among others.

The traditional breads of Sardinia tend to be hard and dry. Pane carasau, a crisp, thin bread is made from durum wheat semolina and wheat flour. It was the bread that shepherds and herdsmen could carry with them during their months in the mountains.
Bottarga, also known as Sardinian caviar, is made from fish eggs (mullet or tuna)  Bottarga is often served in fine slices or used as a dry powder.
The more traditional pasta of Sardegna is malloreddus, a small gnocchi made from durum wheat semolina, salt, water and saffron. Malloreddus are served with a simple tomato sauce, a hearty lamb or sausage ragu , or with butter and grated percorino cheese. "Porchetto" (roasted pork) is typical of all Sardinian cuisine.
Other specialties that you can taste are:

  • Agnello con finocchietti: baby lamb stewed with onion, tomato and wild fennel.   
  • Cassùla:  a dozen types of fish, mollusks and crustaceans cooked with tomato and spices.
  • Culingiones: ravioli with a pecorino-chard filling dressed with tomato sauce.
  • Favata: stew of dried fava beans with tomato, cardoons, wild fennel, sausage and salt pork.
  • Fregula or succu tundu: semolino is the base of thick soups that usually include onions, salt pork and grated pecorino.
  • Gallina al mirto: boiled hen left to marinate for a day or two with myrtle berries and leaves and eaten cold. .
  • Sebadas or seadas: sweet focaccia baked with pecorino and bitter honey from blossoms of corbezzolo (the strawberry tree).
  • Su farru: soup of farro (barley-like grain) cooked in beef broth with cheese and dried mint.

Wines

Here are some of the most renowned wines:

  • Cannonau, red wine, good with typical meat dishes;
  • Carignano, red or rosé, excellent with starters, roast meat, and aged cheese;
  • Semidano, white table wine, ideal with first courses, fish soups, lean meat soups; it's also a Brut sparkling wine;
  • Nuragus, white wine, excellent with fish dishes;
  • Vernaccia, classic aperitif wine, also good with almond-paste sweets;
  • Malvasia, dessert wine, probably imported during the Byzantine period; a sparkling wine is produced with the same grapes;
  • Vini Novelli (New Wines), obtained by fermentation of must inside airtight containers, not in the open air as usual; you can taste these wines in early November.

Most of these species of vine, originally imported, are nowadays Sardinian in all respects.