Sardinia is a breathtakingly beautiful part of Italy, located between the Balearic Islands, the Italian peninsula, and the south of Corsica.
Italy thrives from its agriculture, and its pastures occupy 4.7 million hectares. Over a quarter of this area falls in Sardinia, with 60% of the island’s surface being used for pastures and agriculture (if you want to know where to stay on a visit to Sardinia, read here).
These areas form an integral part of the island’s countryside and are a large part of the culture in Sardinia.
This article will be discussing the agriculture of Sardinia in a little more detail!
Farming is a large part of Sardinia, and as mentioned above, the pastures occupy a large amount of the land.
Due to this, Sardinian farmers are now very knowledgeable about the sustainability, and economic uses of these parts of the land, especially when it comes to dairy sheep.
The most prominent breeding system in Sardinia is the semi-intensive, or semi-extensive breeding system, which provides adequate food for the animals on the farms.
Their production of sheep is seasonal, so milk is mainly produced during the spring and the winter. The quality of this milk will also depend on the diet the sheep are given.
Cultivation And Cuisine
As much of Sardinia’s landscape is used for farming, that means the cuisine you’ll find there is exquisite. All kinds of grains, olives, rice, and vegetables have been grown there for centuries, and they are still grown and eaten there as part of their local cuisine.
Sardinia is also known for being the home of Grenache wine, which is created from ancient vines, and these vines are still present on the island today.
Although Sardinia is Italian, it is actually closer to the French island of Corsica, than it is to Sicily, which is known as its Italian ‘sister’. Therefore, its location to other areas has influenced the island’s cuisine, and you’ll find a variety of dishes that are boasting with Mediterranean influence.
It is also important to give regional consideration to the dishes in Sardinia. This refers to the different provinces on the island. There is Cagliari, Carbonia, Nuoro, Sassari, and more, and each province has its own traditions and values when it comes to cuisines.
Therefore, each region has its own specialty when it comes to food, but there are a few staples that travelers simply cannot miss out on. For example, bottarga is a must, as well as the daily fish harvests from the nearest ports.
Sardinia also has its own take on bread, known as ‘carta di musica’, which is something that needs to be experienced when visiting the island. Gnocchi with saffron is also a staple dish, as well as their cous cous dishes.
Everything is grown in each specific region, so you’re guaranteed to experience a delicious freshness and taste.
Back in the 70s, farming in Italy became a lot less profitable, and farmers were struggling to keep afloat.
Many farmers ended up leaving their towns to search for other forms of work in order to put food on the table. All the while, farming culture was slowly disappearing. This led to the deterioration of farms and their buildings, and farmers desperately needed to find a way to sustain themselves.
In the 80s, the Italian government discovered Agriturismo. This is a combination of the words Agricultura (Agriculture), and Tourism (Tourism).
This involved farmers subsidizing their incomes in order to offer a tourist experience on their farms. If farmers involved themselves in this, they were given a grant to restore their farms to a better condition.
These experiences are still very popular today, and for some, it is the preferred way to visit Italy.
Staying At A Sardinian Agriturismo
Staying at an agriturismo is a unique experience. It is rather informal, and your hosts are likely to be working on their farms most of the time. While there won’t be any room services or concierges carrying your bags, you can expect warm hospitality from Sardinia’s locals.
Guests will normally stay at the farmhouse, or in an annex that has been built by the farm. While they don’t necessarily offer luxury, they do offer tourists the chance to explore inland areas of Italy, and it gives them the opportunity to interact with farmers on a deep level.
They also offer you a great value for money, as many of them cost anything from 30 to 70 euros a night. You also have the opportunity to be hands-on, and your farmers may allow you to help them out on the farm. Here, you’ll be able to learn how to make things such as cheese and ricotta.
You may also be able to help them out with their animals, and some farms may even offer horse riding lessons. Whatever it is you are looking for, Sardinian Agriturismos have it all.
Dinner is always served on the farm, where you can experience delicious foods that have come straight from the farm. You’ll also be able to explore the nearby towns and sites before sitting down for a meal together with your hosts.
There’s no better way to explore Sardinia than by utilizing these farm-stays, and as Sardinia has such a rich farming community, you’ll be able to choose between hundreds of different ones!
Where To Find A Farm-Stay?
As mentioned above, there are hundreds of farm-stays in Sardinia, and they are all located in the beautiful countryside.
While the journey to get to them can be daunting as you drive through the rugged land, but you will definitely be rewarded once you arrive and experience the breathtaking scenery and calming quiet.
There are many different kinds of farm-stays available. Some are on the higher end, with swimming pools, jacuzzi’s and many activities for tourists. On the other hand, some are more low-key, focusing on more of an immersion with nature.
You’ll be able to view your options of farm-stays through a quick search online. Most, if not all, have websites where you can read up on everything they have to offer, as well as photo galleries of their facilities, and reviews from previous costumers.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, vacationing with family, or on a romantic getaway, there’ll definitely be a farm-stay out there for you, and they’ll be a lot easier on your pocket than a fancy hotel would be.
Aside from all of the above, these farm-stays will allow you to try some of the freshest food that Sardinia has to offer, as everything has been cultivated on the exact farm you are staying at!
In summary, 60% of Sardinia’s land is used for farming and agricultural purposes. Due to this vast amount of land used for farming, you can expect to experience some delicious food in Sardinia.
As there are so many farms, Sardinia also offers a variety of different farm-stays, known as agriturismos. These are farms that welcome tourists to stay and experience life there. They will usually stay in a separate farmhouse, and experience home cooked meals with freshly grown produce.
Although these farm-stays are a lot cheaper than regular hotels, they are richer in culture, and there are different farms to suit the needs of everyone.