Let’s face it. Studying abroad can be tiring. After weeks of getting acclimated to a new city and a new culture, taking classes, and scheduling weekend trips, spring break finally arrives. To many students, planning a spring break trip while studying in Rome means “how many countries can I cram into a single week?” For my spring break, I wanted something different. I wanted to take the week to relax and not have to worry about booking five different Airbnb’s or getting up at 6 am to catch my Ryanair flight. I don’t know how I exactly came to choose Sardinia for my spring break. After looking online, it just spoke to me. Not only would Sardinia give me the beaches I was looking for, but it would also give me a chance to explore more of Italy.
After a 45-minute plane ride from Fiumicino Airport, I arrived on the island of Sardinia. As one of the most geographically diverse islands, Sardinia has natural beauties ranging from long sandy beaches, to mountains, to woods and even flat plains. For a whole week, I stayed in the coastal town of Castelsardo, which is in the northern part of the island. Given that spring break landed toward the end of March, I beat the summer tourist season that brings thousands to the Mediterranean island. With only me and the locals, Castelsardo was very quiet. Within a few days, everyone knew I was the student on break. My first morning, I went to have a typical Italian breakfast at the bar. Everyone asked where I was from and what I was doing in Sardinia. I tried my best to explain in my beginner-level Italian (to put it nicely). One thing I did get across was that I was from Philadelphia. For the rest of the week, locals in the bar and even some passing on the street would say “Ciao, Philadelphia!”
One of the most surprising things about the Sardinian people is that they are extremely welcoming and hospitable. Though I traveled by myself for break, I was rarely alone. The husband and wife who owned the property I stayed at took me out most nights for aperitivo and for dinner. Early on I met another woman named Eva on my way up from the beach. She had a brand-new puppy, and he would follow me home almost every day. She knew some English, so we would chat often.
From my apartment, I could walk to Lu Bagnu beach in 5 minutes. I was lucky enough to have great weather all week, so I could go to Lu Bagnu almost every day. I was usually the only one on the sandy beach for hours. To say it was relaxing is a big understatement. Of course, I did do other things besides lounge on a beach for the week. Castelsardo is home to a giant stone castle, once the home of the prominent Doria family. Standing high at the peak of Castelsardo, it provided breathtaking views. You could spend a whole hour walking along its walls, watching the waves crash against the cliffs. One day, Eva took me into Sassari, a town that lies more towards the east of the island. It is home to many universities and a popular horse racing track. Unfortunately, there was no race, but we did see a few people riding around the track! Finally, on one of my last days, I went up to the very tip of Sardinia in Santa Teresa Gallura. On a clear day, you can look out and see the French island of Corsica (and of course have more breathtaking views of the Mediterranean).
My trip to Sardinia ultimately gave me a chance to regroup and come back prepared to finish out the semester. For any student abroad in Rome, Sardinia is a great location to spend a few days, or even the whole week! It was an authentic and truly unique experience to become a part of the island before the tourists descend.
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