Island in the Med
Sardinia, or Sardegna, is an island about twice the size of Sicily and far enough from the mainland that they only very loosely consider themselves Italian. They’ve been invaded by so many empires over the ages that their language, Sard, is a mixture of a whole melting pot of dialects though if you understand Italian you could learn it relatively quickly – in which case the Sards would love you forever.
The Sards like to think of themselves as being diffident and it’s true that it can take time to get to know people there but once they’re on your side you have a true friend. They can be generous to a fault and at the same time bear a grudge for the rest of their lives. In the mountains, in particular, they have a reputation for being hard-headed and they continued to kidnap people until relatively recently.
The main town in Sardinia is Cagliari and whilst it has a harbour rather than a beach, you can get to the sands of Poetto just 5 km away and a bus will get you there in 20 minutes. The beaches in Sardinia get really spectacular up on the North East Emerald coast – but most of it is sectioned off by the big resorts.
Sardinia is also a major holiday spot for Italians so try to visit sometime other than July or August.