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Sardinia Unspoilt

Sardinia unspoilt
By Norman Miller, Evening Standard
Treading gently in the dappled shade beneath the cork trees I got within 20 metres of the wild horses before, with a chorus of snorts, they ambled away through the Sardinian maquis.
The scent of wild herbs rose as I scrunched back towards the dusty road, happy, but as far from the beach as you get on Sardinia
The Parco de la Giara in the foothills of the Gennargentu mountains is Sardinian wilderness - even the Romans gave up trying to conquer it due to the ferocity of locals who still have a reputation as Italy's toughest.
They were friendly enough, however, as I sat beneath the awning of a ramshackle hut and drank mirtu, the local myrtle-infused firewater, with a trio of men who wouldn't have looked out of place in a spaghetti western, their eyes impassive above dark, droopy moustaches.
Like many visitors to Sardinia today, the Romans clung to the shore, though how much time they spent lounging on the island's justly renowned beaches isn't known.
Their legacy remains, though, at places like Nora - or 'bloody Nora', as I christened it after opting to walk in the sun from the nearby village of Pula - its ruins, on a peninsula, close to a lovely little beach where you can cool down after delving into history.
Sardinia more than repays the effort of exploration. Long before the Romans, the island was home to the mysterious Nuraghi people, whose 3,000-year-old settlements still symbolise Sardinia's proud sense of identity.