The first picture which comes into mind when thinking about Sardinia is the sea. Picturesque beaches and azure water are the two elements which attract yearly numerous tourists from all over the world. However, the beauty of Sardinia does not consist only of its coast – the island is a territory with an extremely rich and unique cultural heritage, that reflects the history and ancient traditions of the region. A heritage which still needs to be promoted in order to improve the attractiveness of the island, both as a destination of tourists and international exchange students.
UNESCO, the authority responsible for the World Heritage List, indicates two main types of cultural heritage: tangible and non tangible. Tangible cultural heritage are physical objects, like paintings, sculptures, archaeological sites, monuments, etc. On the contrary, non tangible cultural heritage includes immaterial forms of culture, like traditions, knowledge, ideas, rituals or performing arts¹. The island of Sardinia is rich in cultural heritage examples of both kinds.
Over the centuries, the island has been inhabited by different civilizations which left various traces of their presence. The Nuragics, Phoenicians, Romans or Byzantines, these and more peoples has influenced the shape of the island. According to ISTAT, the Italian National Institute of Statistics, Sardinia is the Italian region with the highest number of archeological sites and parks in the country². One of the most characteristic elements of Sardinian archeological landscape are the nuraghes, megalithic buildings erected between 1900 and 730 B.C. The structures were built by the Nuragics, an endemic civilization which inhabited only the island of Sardinia and was not present in any other part of the world.
The Sardinian traditions and rituals are strongly rooted in the pastoral-agrarian history of the island. The connection between the man and his animals is reflected in celebrations of the festivities, in particular of the carnival. Many costumes in the Sardinian carnival are composed of animal furs, wooden masks and bells worn by the cattle on the pastures. An important element of the pastoral culture, which in 2008 has been included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, is the traditional pastoral polyphonic singing, called canto a tenore³. The song is performed by four men, the two of which have a deep and guttural voice timbre. When speaking about the cultural heritage of Sardinia we should not forget about the Sardinian handicraft, which still maintains original techniques and patterns.
The cultural heritage of Sardinia needs to be promoted in order to give the right relevance not only to the natural beauty of the island, but also to its rich culture, traditions and history. The further valorization of the Sardinian cultural heritage will influence positively on the tourism sector – it will raise interest in the island, attract more tourists, encourage creation of new local companies and new jobs. It will also attract more and more international students, including VET learners, interested in participating in an international exchange on the island.