By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises
Sardinia is about 9,200 square miles, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean. Only Sicily is larger.
In Sardinia, a disconnected and somewhat loosely culturally attached piece of Italy, the traditionalists are partial to the Sardinian language.
Although in Olbia many old-timers speak a dialect of Catalan Spanish.
Italian? Only when they must.
In Olbia itself, much of the older architecture and a bit of the culture is still heavily influenced by the Spanish and the Habsburgs who ruled here for many centuries.
The Municipale, or city hall, in Olbia
Olbia has been settled since pre-historic times. The Ozieri culture was present in the 4th millennium BC; while the Nuraghe civilization was active around 1500 BC.
Scattered around Sardinia are thousands of megalithic ruins known as nuraghes in Sardinian or nuraghi in Italian.
The name is believed to come from an old word meaning heap of stones, or confusingly, a cavity in the earth.
In any case, they are usually located in panoramic or strategic locations; about eight thousand have been cataloged, but perhaps 30,000 once stood.
They date from the middle of the Bronze Age (18th-15th centuries BC).
But these days the old-timers are much outnumbered by an influx of international persons of great wealth and portability.
The newer construction in Olbia and in nearby modern gathering places like Porto Cervo are a little bit Las Vegas, a little bit San Tropez.
The lingua franca is Euros, American Express, MasterCard, and Visa.
And they call the region the Costa Smeralda: The Emerald Coast.
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