The second-largest island in the Mediterranean after its fellow Italian destination of Sicily, Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian) is a fiercely independent realm of modern-day Italy that possesses almost as much culture from Spanish Catalonia as it does from Italy. It was its own independent kingdom between the 14th and 18th centuries ("Sardu" is widely spoken throughout the island). Extremely beautiful and varied in landscape, this island generally is acknowledged to have the best beaches in the country, as well as some of the best wines—making for some good times in Sardinia event venues. The capital and main port is Cagliari, to the island's extreme south. On the northern coast is the elite destination of Costa Smeralda, which got its first boost when the Aga Khan developed properties there.
There are three principal airports on the island, all with service to Italy and other European destinations. Private jets often are seen going into Olbia-Costa Smeralda (OLB), while Cagliari Elmas (CAG) gets approximately twice the traffic that does Alghero-Fertilia (AHO), which is on the western coast of the central north part of the island. No airport has direct service to North America.
There are no dedicated convention or exhibition venues in Sardinia, so large meetings are left to the island's hotels and resorts. Choose from the 320-room Hotel Capo Caccia, which sits on a wooded, cliffside promontory, behind a small castle, close to Alghero and has an amphitheater and banquet and meeting space; the 275-room Pullman Timi AMA Sardegna, which is on the far southeastern tip of the island, some 35 miles from Cagliari, and has five meeting spaces, the largest able to cater to 350 persons; the 254-room Geovillage Sport Wellness & Convention Resort, which is in Gallura, close to the Costa Smeralda, and has a convention center with 13 meeting rooms; the 207-room T Hotel, in the middle of Cagliari, which has three meeting rooms, plenary halls able to host 300 persons, and a banquet hall able to host the same number; and, further into the interior of Sardinia (close to Nuoro and the world-famous a capella singers of Bitti), the wonderful, immaculate, whitewashed, art-adorned, 60-room Su Gologone, which has gardens, a spa, craft workshops, and vaulted meeting rooms in cellars.
Unique event venues in Sardinia include the Villa Muscas, in Cagliari, which used to be the Royal School of Viticulture and Enology and now has an enoteca, event space, and a museum; Parco Sardegna in Miniatura, which is near Barumini in the south-central part of the island and which attempts to, as its name suggests, capture the island's history and culture in one place and offers a planetarium, astronomy museum, restaurant, and covered biosphere for events, among other spaces; the singular Museo Del Pane Rituale Borore, translated loosely as the Borore Museum of Bread Especially Crafted for Sardinian Rituals, which makes art of bread and has a conference room and gallery space; and Albergo Ristorante Museo Tanit, which has a restaurant, an ethnographic and archaeological museum, and a 25-room hotel. One other choice is Il Trenino Verde, or "The Little Green Train," which travels to and from several points throughout the island and can be fully booked.
Sardinian cuisine is renowned. Excellent choices for its regional specialties are Calamosca, which has a fairytale terrace sitting above the sea in Cagliari and is accompanied by a 41-room hotel (one of the few in the capital to be by the beach). Also in the capital, Ristorante St Remy da Marino, which has dining rooms in arched cellars. In addition are Restaurant Sa Cardiga & Su Schironi, on the other side of the Santa Gila Lagoon from Cagliari; Al Tuguri, a beautiful restaurant in a beautiful setting near to Alghero and which has a dining room carved into sandstone with only 24 seats that can be fully booked; and the very traditional Su Nuraxi in an 11-room hotel of the same name in the town of Barumini, close to the Parco Sardegna in Miniatura.