Sardinia: Italy or Not Italy?

Text: Uwe Krauss • Photography: Uwe Krauss

The island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean is a motorcyclist’s dream. Officially, it is a territory of Italy. But, as we shall find out, it is different in many ways.

“SARDEGNA NO E ITALIA!” is written in fat red letters on a concrete wall at the port of Olbia, where I disembarked my ferry one hour ago. The Sardinian separatist movement seems to be—probably because of its relatively peaceful ways—rather unknown in comparison to the IRA in Ireland or ETA in Spain.

There is a huge difference between the dark conglomeration of buildings that makes up the rainy port city of Genova that I left last night and this sunny morning amidst bright red rocks and green hills. Olbia is one of the largest cities in Sardinia, but its heart still seems to beat much slower than that of the mainland.

I stop at the first cafe I find to enjoy a real Italian cappuccino underneath some sycamores. As I observe the slowly awakening town, a slight breeze blows in from the Mediterranean while the sun warms the air to low 80s—the world couldn’t be much better.

But just a half hour later it is a different story. The real treat starts when I head out of Olbia, southbound on the SS389. Corner after corner, the road carves deeper and deeper into the mountains of eastern Sardinia. I roar on for two hours before the small town of Oliena invites me to take a lunch break. Grilled lamb chops with Mediterranean herbs and potatoes just seem to be the appropriate meal after all the herds of sheep I have passed. Of course, the chops deserve the highest acclaim. I will also soon be in sore need of the energy. The upcoming journey through the 6,000-foot-high Gennargentu Mountains is going to be quite an undertaking.

Most of the traffic is sucked in by a different highway, which results in a wonderfully lonely ride for me. As I am about to find over the next 10 days, the whole island is as close as you can get to heaven when it comes to traffic-free roads. That alone is worth the effort to sail on over from mainland Italy.

Having been surrounded by mountains for the last few hours, I suddenly reach the edge of a plateau and get a great view into a verdant green valley. Behind it spreads the east coast of central Sardinia. The white dots along the slopes turn out to be villages, I notice, as I begin my descent down to the waterline. This has to be one of the most exciting sights on the whole island.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the November/December 2020 back issue.