Sassari, Sardinia, Italy

Sassari is the second largest city on Sardinia, a large island off the the west coast of Italy and south of the island of Corsica. Sassari is the third largest city in size in Italy, surpassed only by Rome and Ravenna. Though slightly inland on the northern end of the island, Sassari is a maritime city with a coastline both jagged and sandy and has several beautiful beaches: Porto Ferro, Fiume Santo, Argentiera and Platamona. The climate there is usually temperate and mild. Travelers to Sardinia and the city of Sassari will find many late holiday deals available.

Jagged coastline, Sassari, Sardinia, ItalySassari, formed around the 12th century from the consolidation of several several 10th century villages founded by refugees from Rome, was ruled during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Genoa and Pisa from the Italian mainland and by the Spanish regions of Catalonia and Aragon — the island was even claimed briefly by Austria at the start of the 18th century as part of an exchange of territory in the treaty settling the War of the Spanish Succession. Self-governance of a sort began in 1720 with the formation of the Kingdom of Sardinia, later part of the Kingdom of Italy and then the Italian Republic.

All these varied rulers have contributed to the artistic, architectural, historical and cultural heritage of Sassari. The local cuisine is a good example of this multi-faceted ancestry of this city. At Christmas and Easter, lamb is boiled, seasoned with red pepper and garlic and served as piedi di agnomi. During Carnival, the traditional dish is la fabadda, bean and cabbage soup with bits of lard and sausage and seasoned with fennel. Seafood is also prominent gastronomically — lu zarettu in graniglia, or fresh fish seasoned and grilled, is a favorite meal for locals.

Stroll through the spacious piazzas and public squares of Sassari. Stop at the St. Nicholas Church, a Gothic structure dating back to the 13th century, to see its bell tower and many works of art from the past six hundred years. The town hall of Sassari is in the 18th century Palazzo Ducale; the Banco di Napoli occupies the 1878 Palazzo Giordano. The fabulous marble 17th century Rosello Fountain, with statuary of lions and the four seasons, is near the Rosello Bridge.

The Sardinian Crafts Pavilion near the city center is worth a visit, as is the Archaeological Museum of Sanna. Stop at the St. Mary’s Church, the home to the candarieri, the huge wooden wagons used during the La Ferrada religious festival held yearly on the second-from-last Sunday in May. The festival, a devotion to the Virgin Mary dates back to the 13th century and includes parades, traditional costumes and huge candles. On the following Sunday, the Cavalcata Sarda folk festival is held, where hundreds of people parade their horses through the city.

Another religious procession worth witnessing occurs during the week before Easter each year. The ancient brotherhoods of Santissimo Sacramento, Servi di Maria and Santa Croce solemnly walk to the beat of drums through the streets, giving a feeling of the revelation of medieval mysteries.


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