Sardinia: Italy's Island Surprise

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Sardinia's silhouette is illustrated by this piece of marble, which was recently on display outside of a shop in the northern village of Santa Teresa Gallura.
Eliot Stein
Limestone cliffs and white-sand beaches define much of Sardinia's roughly 1,200-mile-long coastline. In the east, some of the cliffs plunge to grottoes along the Golfo di Orosei, including this one near the small beach of Cala Goloritzé.
Eliot Stein
These red rocks at the eastern port of Arbatax are within sight of the antique steam train's terminus.
Eliot Stein
On the north coast, the windswept lighthouse at Capo Testa rests on high ground surrounded by fantastic granite outcroppings that inspired the late British sculptor Henry Moore. Reach it by taking a moderate-level hike over hills and through beds of wildflowers from Rena Maiori beach.
Eliot Stein
Take the small passageway dug into the massive porphyritic reef of Arbatax's red rocks to reach a secluded beach.
Eliot Stein
Sardinia's mountainous interior is walkable, including the gorgeous Lake Flumendosa. But it's more comfortable to tour it as a passenger on an antique train. The most scenic of Sardinia's four antique-train routes runs between Mandas and Arbatax.
Ride an antique train, as British novelist D.H. Lawrence did in 1921. The trains have switched from steam to diesel engines since his journey, but the cars maintain their old-time feel.
Eliot Stein
Sardinia is home to thousands of weathered nuraghi—stone towers dating from the Bronze Age. The one shown here dates back to the 12th-century B.C. and lies outside Castelsardo, a northern coastal town. Others are three stories high.
Eliot Stein
In rural Sardinia, cork oaks dot the landscape. These were photographed on the interior plateau of Giara di Gesturi, north of Cagliari.
Eliot Stein
Cagliari (pronounced kal-yah-ri) is Sardinia's capital. Every May 1, it hosts a four-day religious procession. Citizens gather to carry an effigy of St. Efisio, the island's patron saint, 21 miles southeast to Nora—then back.
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In a prelude to Easter, men carry a representation of Jesus' casket through the old part of Castelsardo—a small northern fishing town—before attending a ritual funeral at the local cathedral.
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The northern beach Spiaggia della Pelosa is a short walk from the quaint fishing village of Stintino. The remains of a 16th-century Spanish tower stand offshore, one of Sardinia's many reminders of Spanish, Roman, and Phoenician invasions.
Eliot Stein

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