Breathtaking sceneries, history and ancient traditions – make the North of Sardinia, among the most fascinating of Italy, with its paradisiac white and sandy beaches and crystal clear sea waters, a cuisine of strong flavors and an ancient wine culture, various popular touristic destinations and important archaeological sites dating back to the Nuragic Age (3500-4000 years ago). These are the common traits throughout this territory.
Sassari, in the northwest, is the most populated city with its 127.734* inhabitants, but the Northern of Sardinia also boasts many other medieval towns and boroughs, among the most beautiful in Italy, and often topped with ancient castles dating from the twelfth century, as Castelsardo, Alghero, Bosa, Osilo, Burgos, all of absolute and undeniable charm, which deserve a visit. Do not miss Alghero, important tourist town in Sardinia, full of beaches and natural sites among the most attractive in Europe, as the “Grotte di Nettuno” (Neptune’s Grottos); Stintino, a small fishing village, famous for the presence of the beach “La Pelosa”, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The north of Sardinia is often remembered also for the presence of the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and its main tourism destination of Porto Cervo. The presence of a wide variety of luxury hotels, frequented by sheikhs, nobles, wealthy industrialists, actors and celebrities of the international jet set, make Costa Smeralda one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. The North of Sardinia also boasts the presence of two national parks: the National Park of Asinara Island (uninhabited and rich of flora and fauna unique in the world) and the National Park of La Maddalena (paradise of boaters) , as well as several regional parks and protected marine reserves. The northern Sardinia offers also other territories of absolute interest, from the plains rich pastures, to the long beaches of the Asinara Gulf enriched by sandy dunes systems and large forests of Mediterranean pine. The rich green hills of the areas of Romangia, Anglona, Gallura and Barbagia are rich of vineyards and olive trees, from which are produced fantastic wines and oils of absolute value, such as the famed Vermentino di Gallura and Cannonoau, Cagnulari the finest and most prestigious known wines in Sardinia and the Bosana’s Extra Virgin Oil, an exceptional product for elegance and finesse. The northern Sardinia also boasts prestigious products of livestock breeding, like the rich cheeses and savory meats. The north of the island is also important for the presence of “The Nuraghi’s Valley”, a vast plain in the area of Goceano, with over 30 Nuraghi, including Nuraghe Santu Antine (all Nuraghi, more than 7000 throughout the island, are recognized by UNESCO World Heritage Site), among the most complex and intact in Sardinia, along with other important Nuraghi as Nuraghe Orrioli or “Su Nuraxi” of Barumini, in Southern of Sardinia. A special mention deserves the area of Barbagia, with its preserved cultural and natural treasures, and its interisting boroughs of Orgosolo, Oliena, Dorgali and its fantastic wild coasts, close to the village of Calagonone.
Sassari, in the northwest, is the most populated city with its 127.734* inhabitants. Cultural and administrative center of the north of the island also boasts the oldest university of Sardinia, and among the longest-lived of Italy. The city has preserved its ancient cultural heritage, of which is necessary to mention the feast of “Festa dei Candelieri” (The Candlesticks) also named “La Faradda” an Intangible Heritage by UNESCO since 2013 .
In 1131 the city was mentioned for the first time in the geografic maps under the name of Jordi de Sassaro. A wealth of information about the city can be found in Condaghe of San Pietro in Silki, medieval code written and compiled in logudorese 1150-1180. Sassari, capital of the Giudicato of Torres, became a free city in 1294, confederated in Genoa, following the promulgation of the Statutes of Sassari; the most important body of laws and government identity, not only for the city of Sassari, but for the entire island. It is in this period that Sassari was rounded and protected by bastions, becoming the biggest medieval center.
In the 1331 Sassari, under the pushing of the local bourgeoisie, became a Royal City of the Sardinia Kingdom, under the control of Aragon Crown. Nevertheless the Sassari poorly tolerated subjection and the lack of autonomy; so, at the urging of the Republic of Genoa and the Doria, the city rebelled against the Aragonese-Catalan, initiating a period of popular uprisings. The Aragonese built the castle of Sassari (in the actual piazza castello) with the main aim to defend against the rebels of Sassari; it was demolished later, in 1877 by decision of the City Council, as a symbol of foreign oppression and religious obscurantism, having been the seat of the Spanish Inquisition. The remains of the castle, including the foundations and two corridors that housed the artillery, were recently excavated and can be visited in the square.
Between the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century Sassari experienced a period of severe economic and social crisis. In 1527-28 he was repeatedly invaded and pillaged by the French; the continuous raids by pirates in the Mediterranean impoverished the local economy based on trade, and various epidemics killed many of its inhabitants.
In the second half of the sixteenth century the city was lifted after years of crisis, was reborn culturally, the arts flourished, thanks to the introduction of the press, spread humanistic thought.
In 1617, Sassari boasts the founding of the first university of Sardinia.
The so-called struggle for primacy sharpened the rivalry with the city of Cagliari; the competition between the capitals of the Capo di Sopra and Capo di Sotto, will lead the citizens of Sassari to claim the right to have a Parliament in their city, and the headquarters of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
In 1582 the city was hit by a severe plague epidemic and, with the decimation of the population as a result of this and other epidemics, Sassari ceased to be the major center of the island. The last stage of Spanish rule involves years of decline for Sassari and the whole island, saw the least interest in the island by the Iberians, after the Crown of Spain had begun its expansion in the New World.
The Alghero origins date back to 1102, was founded by the Doria family of Genoa, who exploited the land and the indigenous population. For many years, Doria had to defend itself from constant attacks from other neighboring populations, especially by Aragonese Crown. In 1353 Alghero passed into the hands of the Aragonese which made it one of their favorite strongholds in the Mediterranean Sea area. Evidence of its important past are especially the imposing walls that still characterize their own landscape, and that for centuries have protected from the external incursions. The town on the Riviera del Corallo keeps nowadays, after more than six centuries, some urban aspect of architecture, and own language (an arcain form of Catalan).
The centre of Alghero is rich in shops, restaurants, locals where is possible to taste the local dishes, take a coffe or a good drink, or have some walk rides in the narrow and pittoresque streets of the town where is possible to have some very good shopping, specially souvenirs and handcraft products or Sardinian gold and red coral jewellery.
The terrotory of Alghero is very interesting under the archeological and naturalist aspects, as: the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju, the Nuraghe Palmavera, Capo Caccia and Neptune’s Grotto, made up of an inland lake whose shores are as high as 20 meters. During Holy Week are held in Alghero evocative rites and processions.
The village, located at the top of a rocky promontory in a fortified position, was founded by the Doria family of Genoa in the twelfth century; by that time the town still retains much of the fortifications. From the middle of the ‘400 it becomes part of the possessions of the Crown of Aragon.
Today Castelsardo is one of the best and well kept medieval borough in Italy, of considerable importance from the point of view of tourism. Inside the castle is the Museum of Weaving which exhibits considerable baskets packed with palm leaves. In the old town you can visit the Cathedral dedicated to Saint Anthony.
The church, built in the sixteenth century over a Romanesque structure, preserves, with a nave, a significant example of wooden furnishings dated back to six-eighteenth century and part of an altarpiece dated in the late ‘400 and early’ 500. The overall appearance of the village has remained almost unchanged over the centuries, and this certainly attract visitors for its many breathtaking views and landscapes facing the sea.
This cozy small village, Stintino was founded in 1856, when the neighboring island Asinara (today a National Park) was evacuated to be turned into a penal colony (today destination of visits by many tourists), which hosted from seventies up to 1992, the main Italian terrorists and mafiouses. Many hinabitants here still lives here working in fishing, specially tuna and lobsters.
In the Church of the Immaculate Conception are kept some works of art from churches abandoned Asinara. Annually in the country held demonstrations of great interest: the regatta Latin Sail and the Tuna Festival, which, in addition to being a tourist attraction, keep alive the interest of the population towards the Sardinian traditions.
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