Sardinia in winter is synonymous with intimate contact with its culture and traditions. An island capable of offering endless possibilities to choose from. The suggestive Carnival, the traditional Sardinian museums, the bonfires of Sant'Antonio, snowcapped hamlets, the sea in winter... a genuinely unique all-around experience.
Choosing to visit Sardinia in winter is unusual but surprisingly authentic. You will be able to appreciate the many shades of charm. The island in this period is more familiar and genuine and cheap, and you will have the possibility to choose between hot and cold, sea or mountains. The mitigating action of the sea moderates the summer heat and, in winter, softens the temperatures, which never fall below zero except at high altitudes. Winter in Sardinia is very short, and the coldest months are January and February. Inland, temperatures can drop a few degrees below zero, but the snow only falls at high altitudes. The winter season also tends to be relatively mild, with frequent warm air from North Africa. Cagliari has one of the highest average winter temperatures in the country, together with Sicily.
Therefore, it will certainly not be the cold weather that discourages tourists and visitors, who can take advantage of the low season to enjoy the island in more intimate and deeper contact. Sardinia has much to offer from every point of view at any time of the year, with a wide range of choices that will not disappoint even the most demanding expectations.
If you want to know Sardinian culture up close, you will find several museums preserving its traditions and telling visitors about them. In Nuoro, the largest ethnographic museum in the entire region, the Costume Museum. Thanks to special multimedia installations, visitors can immerse themselves in the local customs and traditions. It represents the museum of Sardinian life and popular traditions and houses tools, musical instruments and typical handicrafts.
The Museum of Mediterranean Masks in Mamoiada, in the heart of Barbagia, is a unique place where the Carnival traditions of distant lands and cultures intertwine. The protagonists are the characteristic masks of the Mamuthones and Issohadores, distinguished by the masks' colours and the movements during the parade. The mask of the Mamuthones is made of black wood, while that of the Issohadore is white. An exciting journey through the collection of traditional Sardinian and Mediterranean masks.
In the centre of Bitti, also in Barbagia, the Museum of Peasant and Pastoral Civilisation houses the Museum of Tenor Singing. We will learn about choral singing, declared a masterpiece of oral heritage by Unesco. An itinerary through Sardinian song and dance world, a priceless legacy to be preserved and valorised.
Not to be missed is the Murats, the Unique Regional Museum of Sardinian Textile Art in Samugheo, in the province of Oristano. It preserves and keeps alive the memory of the island's rich textile tradition. There is a spectacular collection of artefacts woven for everyday life, from household linens, saddlebags and cloths for the countryside, shepherds' clothing, festival costumes, and old wooden looms and various tools used to weave these masterpieces of craftsmanship.
In Gallura, in Luras, in the province of Sassari, there is the peculiar Museum of the Femina Agabbadora. It preserves tools and evidence of a controversial figure in Sardinian society up to the dawn of the 20th century. It seems that she was a woman who put an end to the suffering of seriously ill people through a hammer made of olive wood. The Sardinian term "agabbadòra" means "she who puts an end". A visit to the museum is a journey into the past in a typical Gallura house to discover local customs.
Finally, in many towns in the Campidano area, you will come across highly sought-after museums of local tradition, capable of narrating and handing down the peculiar characteristics of each village.
The enchanting beauty of Carnival in Sardinia
This period is characterised by the most ancestral Carnivals and festivals in Sardinia, for a holiday dedicated to folklore and traditions. We should point out that there is a Carnival for every place on the island, as each local community interprets this occasion according to its customs and peculiarities. The parade of traditional masks in Cuglieri, in the province of Oristano, is evocative.
In the small villages of Austis, Lula or Gavoi (all three in the province of Nuoro), the celebrations are accompanied by the rhythmic beat of the tumbarinos, typical drummers. You can enjoy carnival delights throughout the island, such as broad beans and lard, fried pastries, and excellent wine.
Not to be missed are the Carnivals of Valledoria, Badesi and Tempio Pausania (all three in the province of Sassari), where allegorical floats parade through the town streets amidst succulent specialities to taste. In Oristano, you can watch the historic Sartiglia, an equestrian competition, with the race to the star or the race of the pairs. Within the historical centre, this event takes us back in time to a past rich in traditions. Throughout Sardinia, traditional masks symbolise the link with pastoral life. Everything is seasoned with a sense of sacredness, deep belonging and strong identity: an intact connection with the traditions of the past.
In Mamoiada, in the province of Nuoro, the real protagonists of Carnival are the Mamuthones. Covered in black sheepskins, they wear grotesque-looking black wooden masks. On their shoulders, they carry cowbells, which mark the ancestral dance in which they perform. The Issohadores, on the other hand, wear a red bodice and a white mask, catching the animal masks and not only... also the spectators with a rope. In Ottana (Nuoro), the masks of the Boes (oxen), characterised by their long horns, are typical. At the same time, in Orotelli (Nuoro), we find the Thurpos (blind men), dressed and hooded with black orbace coats and their faces covered in bonfire ashes. They represent the bond between man and animal, master and servant.
All Sardinian communities deeply feel these events, which involve both inhabitants and visitors. Rituals have been repeated and handed down for centuries, combining the sacred and the profane.
The Magic of Saint Anthony's Bonfire
Contrary to what you might think, January in Sardinia can be more exciting than you might think. In memory of Saint Anthony, who went to the sacred fire straight to the underworld (in Sardinian, Sant'Antoni e su fogu), 16 and 17 January is marked by purifying bonfires all over the island. This religious festival is celebrated in the middle of the carnival period. It blends with the profane, mysticism and magic: a symbiosis between man and the earth. This event means breathing in a unique and authentic community atmosphere typical of all Sardinian villages. Gastronomic tastings and games of dexterity will enliven the night between the 16th and 17th. To soften the cold inland, we will drink a full-bodied Sardinian wine or the local brandy known as filu e ferru. And to liven up the atmosphere of St Anthony's night, there is also the appearance of the spectacular Sardinian carnival masks, especially the Barbagia carnival. Popular and ancestral masks (in Mamoiada, Ottana, Orotelli, Orani, Gavoi and Sarule) make this event even more remarkable. This festival, which is very popular throughout the region, is particularly felt in Arbus, Gairo, Laconi, Sadali, Samugheo and Seui, among many other municipalities.
Sardinia's charm in Winter
Visiting Sardinia out of season is not a choice dictated by saving money but by the desire to enjoy more intimately the contact with this beautiful island. Without the crowding typical of the high season, you will have the opportunity to appreciate this genuine land. With the arrival of winter, it takes on colours, charms, and atmospheres to be discovered: from North to South, but especially in the centre, its true vibrant heart. It is an experience that must be had sooner or later, in the name of the traditions and the peculiar local characteristics that distinguish each individual village. Winter is the ideal period to stop and enjoy a good glass of red wine, such as the excellent Cannonau, accompanied by a superb meat dish, such as the famous porceddu, the typical Sardinian piglet. It will be possible to celebrate Christmas on the beach in Cagliari, taste delicious fish dishes at Poetto, drink a coffee, have an aperitif in the enchanting Alghero, or the deserted Costa Smeralda, cuddled by the winter sun. A stunning place to visit is the Spiaggia dei due Mari (literally the beach of the two seas) in Villasimius, with its salt pond housing a colony of pink flamingos. Don't miss a stop in the capital, Cagliari, with its historic quarters and charming places of interest.
Snow lovers will undoubtedly take advantage of the period and visit the charming snowcapped mountain villages. The air takes on the aroma of the resins of the wood burning in the chimneys of the houses. It is a timeless, crystallised atmosphere with a strong sense of family and home.
Temperatures reach zero in the centre of the island, while snow covers the Mount Gennargentu and the highlands. The colours of autumn give way to a snowy white that sleeps and cradles nature until the arrival of spring. Finally, even in winter and in the less warm periods, Sardinia is the ideal destination for sports and outdoor enthusiasts and those who see travel or holidays as an experience. A region capable of satisfying everyone at any time of the year.
Winter events and traditions in North Sardinia
The Christmas atmosphere in Northern Sardinia is something unique and fascinating. It is characterised by the magic of ancient traditions deeply rooted in this land.
Illumina il Natale 2021 | Presepe in Carrela
With the arrival of Christmas, the village of Bono, in the province of Sassari, dresses up in magic, organising a series of evocative events, including the "Presepe in Carrela" competition (8-19 December). In this unique competition, the "carrelas", namely the districts that, in this period, are transformed into an open-air nativity scene, challenge each other. The event is enriched by craft exhibitions, theatrical performances, book presentations, food and wine events and guided tours.
Ajò a ippuntare
Another original event, to say the least, is the famous Ajò a ippuntare held in Usini (9-11 December). Ippuntare is a Sardinian term that indicates an invitation to taste the new wine and promote the wines and characteristics of the territory. The initiative aims to valorise wine excellence through the presence of the best wineries. Educational workshops and tastings of typical local products frame this traditional event. There will be guided tours to the main monuments and sites of interest and a full programme including numerous exhibitions and musical events.
Notte de Chelu
At Christmas, the small town of Berchidda opens its doors to the Notte de Chelu (11-24 December). The "Night of Heaven" is entirely dedicated to the warmest and most enveloping festivity of the year. The village comes alive with nativity scenes, choirs and folk groups performances, markets with handicrafts, and food and wine specialities. The population is fully involved in the organisation and preparation of this exceptional event.
Salude & Trigu
If you want to get to know and discover Northern Sardinia in the most intimate and authentic way, there is no alternative to the Salude & Trigu project promoted by the Sassari Chamber of Commerce. Currently, the programme involves the territories of the provinces of Sassari and Olbia-Tempio, the northern part of the island. The name itself, Salude & Trigu (health and wheat) derives from a prosperous wish in the Sardinian language according to which where there is health and wheat (by extension bread) there is nothing lacking. The initiative aims to promote the traditions, folklore and culture of this Sardinian sub-region, connecting visitors with the locals. Taste Sardinia, a region that is not just made up of sea and picture-postcard beaches, but of millenary traditions jealously and proudly guarded by a people proud of its past. An island that turns out to be a mosaic of unspoilt nature, history, art, culture and gastronomic excellence, capable of offering endless possibilities and unique and unrepeatable experiences in any season of the year: spring, summer, autumn or winter. A land that changes its colours, smells and always has new things to offer to those who choose it and continue to choose it in an ever new and different discovery.VISIT SALUDE & TRIGU WEBSITE❯
This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel-nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself
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