An island within an island
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An island within an island

One of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, a common denominator for the various peoples that have appeared over the years, and who have introduced and combined their different cultures among themselves.

The sea has at the same time acted as a limitation, in the sense that when compared to the continental mainland, it has preserved a cultural, physical and social dimension that is more closed and circumstantial, slowing down the elements of contamination that were part of the following millenia.

From the cultural and social points of view, having a small population and a small number of urban areas scattered throughout the territory, the island has generated a variety of particular features and characteristics that today make it truly unique.

Sardegna prenuragicaThe first traces of man’s presence in Sardinia go back to the Prenuraghic age (more precisely, to the lower Palaeolithic).
The only sources of information relating to this period are connected with the various archaeological findings on the island, which make it possible to work out what might have been the habits and customs of the human beings who lived here.
The Prenuraghic age, (450,000 - 1,800 B.C.), is divided by historians into 4 chronological phases in the history of Sardinia. These are :  the Paleolithic, the Mesolithic, the Neolithic, and the Aeneolithic (or Chalcolithic).
All these periods have quite distinct “cultural” elements.

When we talk about “culture” in the prehistoric period, we are generally referring to that combination of artefacts, tools and buildings that indicate the habits and customs of a given population, or a particular ethnic group.

Sardegna paleoliticaThe Paleolithic, or Stone Age, is the period from which the earliest man-made artefacts, usually in stone are dated. In the Northern part of the island, in particular in  Anglona, objects made from flint and quartzite have been found.

The Paleolithic period is divided into the early Paleolithic (450,000 to 120,000 years ago), middle Paleolithic (120,000 to 35,000 years B.C.) and the late Paleolithic (35,000 -10,000 B.C.).
The Mesolithic (which lasted several millennia), or middle period, set between the Stone Age (Ancient) and the new, is little more than a period of transition  towards economic and social systems that were based on agriculture and raising of livestock.
The Neolithic, or new Stone Age, is set between 6000 and 2800 B.C.
This period is marked by two important innovations, namely the agro-pastoral economic system and the discovery of ceramics.

The Neolithic is divided into:
the ancient Neolithic (6000 - 4000 B.C.) , where thanks to the discovery of ceramics it became possible to have and use containers for storage and other uses. Thus we see the passage from a subsistence economy based on hunting and gathering, to one based on agriculture and the domestication and raising of animals, which clearly brought about radical changes.

The middle Neolithic period (4000-3400 B.C.) saw the creation of the Bonu Ighinu culture, which takes its name from the site where the discovery took place, in the Bonu Ighinu grotto (Sa Ucca 'e su Tintirriolu) in the Mara area, part of the Sassari region.

Findings from the recent Neolithic period (3400-3200 B.C.), lead us to understand how the culture of that time evolved to become little by little, both more complex and better-organized.
The late Neolithic period (3200-2800 B.C.) saw the birth of one of the most imortant cultures on the island, the Ozieri or San Michele culture. This is the first culture whose archaeological findings clearly demonstrate a presence throughout the entire island.

The Aeneolithic  period is also referred to as the Bronze Age, since it is the period of the earliest creation of arsenical bronze, produced in arsenic alloy, and also the acquisition of mineral extracting skills (the passage from the Neolithic period.

Sardegna nuragicaThe Nuraghic Age (1800-238 B.C.), is one of the most important in the island’s history, since it represents the transition from the previous cultures and civilizations to one of the most significant.
It takes its name from the “Nuraghi”, which are stone buildings in the form of a tapering flattened cone and which can be found all over the island.

The Nuraghi were built using large more or less regular blocks, and contained one or more rooms. From information supplied by archaeologists, we know that the Nuraghic people had a predominantly agro-pastoral economy but which also used mineral extraction (copper and lead), and their society was organized hierarchically, with the warriors at the head of the pyramid, together with the practitioners of various “cults”, most important of which was that of water (practised in well temples).

The Nuraghic age can be divided into four periods, namely:
Early Bronze (1800-1600 B.C.),
Middle Bronze (1600-1300 B.C.)  which marks the real start of the Nuraghic civilisation,
middle to late Bronze (1300-900 B.C.) which marks the high point of the Nuraghic civilisation,
late Bronze up to the Iron Age (900-500 B.C.), a period of profound changes, brought about by  different factors, not the least of which was the permanent settling in Sardinia of the Phoenicians.

Sardegna punicaThe Phoenician-Punic period goes from the  IXth  century B.C.  to the middle of the VIth century B.C., when Sardinia was colonised first by the Phoenicians, and the second half of the VIth century B.C., -238 B.C. , when the island fell under the more direct and invasive control of the Punic peoples.

Thanks to the Phoenicians, the island saw the first elements of commercial exchange, (given that the island was a Phoenician colony), since the arrival of the Phoenicians seems to have been relatively peaceful.

The arrival of the Carthaginians on these shores during the VIth century B.C. was a different matter.

Conflict between Phoenicians and Punics (Phoenicians from Carthage) was inevitable and so Sardinia fell under Carthaginian domination.

Sardegna romanaThe Roman period in Sardinia began with the historic first treaty between Rome and Carthage  during the VIth century B.C., which sanctioned the possibility for Rome of carrying out commercial activities with Sardinia.
The second treaty, in 348 B.C., forbade Rome from building cities in Sardinia.
The end of the 1st Punic War saw Rome victorious over Carthage, and indicated a move for the island to Roman domination. The Roman period is the historical phase that has had the greatest influence on Sardinian culture. Clear proof of this can be found in the number of dialects present on the island, all of which demonstrate evident Latin roots.

Sardegna bizantinaThe  Byzantine period (460-1000 A.D.). Between 460 - 467 Sardinia was dominated by the Vandals.
In  534, under Justinian, the island was reconquered, and once more became part of the Roman Empire. The Byzantine period was to continue up to the period of the Judges.

During the Judicate period ( Xth-XIIIth centuries), Sardinia was divided into four Judgeships : Torres or Logudoro, Gallura, Arborea and Cagliari.

In their turn, the Judgeships were sub-divided into administrative districts known as “curatories” (managed by a “curator”, who was chosen from among the most prestigious  families, the “maiorales”).
The curatories were well-organized with clearly-defined geographic and administrative boundaries.
These, in their turn, were divided into villages, run and governed by a “maiore”, who had financial, judicial and political responsibility and who was appointed by the curatore.

This organization was so well defined and organized that even after the end of the period of the Judicates, the geographical divisions were continued. Even today in Sardinia the areas of  Nurra, Romangia, Anglona, Meilogu, Goceano, Marghine etc still exist.

The Curatoria of Anglona (which was part of the Judicate of Torres) included numerous villages and towns; many ceased to exist as a result of plague, pestilence or war, others can still be found today. The curatoria  covered the present-day municipal districts of Castelsardo (then known as Castelgenovese), Bulzi, Chiaramonti, Erula, Laerru, Martis, Nulvi, Perfugas, S. Maria Coghinas, Sedini, Valledoria, and part of the villages and towns  of Tergu, Osilo, Sorso and Sennori. Then there are the villages that have disappeared, like Ampulia, Bangios, Billikennor, Bolonianos, Casteldoria, Ficus, Frexanu, Gavazana, Lesegannor, Monte Furcadu, Murtetu, Orria Manna, Orria Pithinna, Ostiano de Enena, Ostiano de Monte, Ostiano de Optentano, Salasa, Sevin, Simbranos, Solio, Sordella and Speluncas. All these villages that no longer exist have been identified in precise geographic areas (except for one or two); so much so that today the Anglona area is rich in archaeological sites.

Sardegna aragoneseThe Aragonese-Spanish period started in 1323, when the young Alfonso d'Aragona landed in Sardinia, to put into effect the act of enfeoffment, or infeudation as desired by Pope Boniface VIIIth, in favourof Giacomo IInd of Aragona, with the creation in 1297, of the "Regnum Sardiniae et Corsicae" and its concession to the Aragonese sovereign. On his arrival he met with resistance from the Lords of the island, the Pisan and Genovese families of Doria and Malaspina and from the Judicate of Arborea, a resistance that ended with the victory of the Aragonesi.

From this point on, the Iberian peninsular became the island’s dominant influence, particularly in terms of art and culture (Gothic style).

The Kingdom of Sardinia  Between 1714 and 1718, the island passed first into Austrian control, then into the hands of the Piedmontese. Together with possession of the island, the Savoia family acquired the royal title. Throughout the century, late Baroque style art persisted. However, the first half of the 19th Century saw the diffusion in Sardinia of a neo-classical artistic style. The Savoy government also declared its intention to respect Sardinian institutions, laws and customs, but this intention soon disappeared in light of what actually took place. On the 3rd of March 1799, fleeing from Piedmont which had been invaded by Napoleone Bonaparte, the King of Sardinia, Carlo Emanuele IVth of Savoia, landed at Cagliari, with a court of family members and collaborators. The presence of the King on the island, which lasted until 1814, on the one hand reinforced political and civil restoration, and on the other allowed the Savoys to gain new consent.

The Kingdom of Italy (1860-1945) During the second half of the 19th Century Sardinia, like the rest of Italy, was engaged in a period of post-unification urban renewal. The majority of the population lived in tiny hamlets scattered throughout the island, while only a minimal part of the bigger towns, including Cagliari and Sassari, had more than 5,000 inhabitants. Between the 19 th and the 20 th centuries there emerged an interesting artistic movement featuring such luminaries as Grazia Deledda, Sebastiano Satta and Salvatore Ruju,  who contributed to the creation of a new image of the island. A further stimulus in the guise of architecture and town planning was provided by the Fascist regime, with numerous roadbuilding,  drainage and port projects taking place, together with the construction of a large number of public and municipal buildings during the twenty year period: Universities, local government offices, and schools, all in an official academic style that typified municipal public projects all over the peninsular.
Thus the creation of new towns like Arborea, Fertilia, Carbonia and Cortoghiana was fundamental, the only examples of the physical expression of a new vision of urban spaces and architecture.

The present day (from 1945 to today). With the armistice of the 8th September 1943, the Second World War ended in Sardinia. This historic moment was represented by the movement of German troops to Corsica. The arrival of the Allies (around the middle of September 1943) and the appointment in January 1944 of General Pietro Pinna as High Comissioner for Sardinia, signified a clear break with the pre-war period.

During the 20th Century, the rebirth of Sardinian handicrafts has often been interpreted as a return to their primitive roots, after a decline and decay caused by centuries of Pisan, Spanish and Piedmontese influence.

Tourism has developed, above all along the Costa Smeralda, and semi-deserted towns like Arzachena and Olbia have started to fill up with people again, thus setting in motion a total transformation of once-uninhabited areas.
During the 1990s, tourism has become a major part of development policy, and although still in search of a consistent structure, it presents important and noteworthy details regarding the quality and merit of the places and local culture involved.

SardegnaHere then, is a short history of the island, so as to better understand the cultural roots of our people.
Every area, every town, is itself an island within the island, since it bears the memories and traditions of that particular family tree, of the different people who created it and of those people who still live there today.

From the pre Nuraghic age to the present day, much has changed, progess, technology, the development of a strong and combative culture. The Sardinians are a proud people, courageous, loyal, basically honest and hospitable.
Do not be taken in by their initial wariness, which is by now part of their DNA, for after years of being invaded, every foreigner may be perceived as yet  another possible conqueror.
The Sardinian is a hospitable and courteous person, but one who still firmly believes in a fundamental value, respect for people and things.
We would like to characterize this principle for living, highlighting over and above the natural respect among people, a  respect for a culture of the environment, the concept of conserving and preserving the natural beauty of  a place and its characteristics, particularly for future generations, thus contributing to a a continuity and which is our guarantee, for this splendid island of Sardinia.

Ciao Valledoria

Sustainable tourism

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Ciao Valledoria - Environment protection no profit association - Responsible tourism promotion - Valledoria (SS) - Italy