The jewel of the Mediterranean, Sardinia remains one of Italy's best-kept secrets, often overshadowed by its mainland counterparts.
While it’s known for its rugged coastline and welcoming hospitality, one of the most intriguing facts is that the islands, particularly the areas of Ogliastra, Barbagia di Ollolai and Barbagia of Seulo, are designated a ‘Blue Zone'—a region of the world where people live much longer than average.
Netflix’s Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zone follows author and explorer Dan Buettner as he uncovers why Sardinia is home to one of the world's highest concentrations of centenarians (people who live to 100 years old). In fact, Sardinia boasts more than 20 times the number of centenarians compared to similar populations in the United States.
So, what's the secret behind Sardinia's culture of longevity?
While some attribute Sardinia's longevity to the island's high-altitude villages, others point to the deep sense of community deeply woven into their way of life.
No matter where you are on the island, take a look around: you are sure to see older people still living purpose-filled and healthy lives integrated with the rest of society, and even still working the land. Growing up in Sardinia, it isn’t uncommon for children to grow up getting to know their great-grandparents.
With a culture linked strongly to its agrarian practices, there is very little processed food. Sardinians have a culinary tradition entwined with the seasons, producing most of their food at home. One of the best places to get a glimpse into Sardinia’s longevity secrets is in Nonna's kitchen, where the same time-honoured recipes have been passed down through generations.
The traditional Sardinian kitchen is stocked with homemade pasta, whole-grain bread, garden vegetables, seasonal fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and homemade sweets, to name a few. The high concentration of bread and pasta raises the question of whether carbs are truly the enemy. Buettner's evidence suggests the contrary—as long as the ingredients are of a high quality and traditionally prepared.
Physical activity is another cornerstone of the Sardinian way of life. The island's rugged terrain requires regular physical work, keeping the locals active throughout their lives.
The northern province of Sassari in particular is a haven for physical activity, whether it's exploring one of the Maddalena islands on a nature walk or plunging into the crystal-clear waters before a coastal bike ride. This territory remained uninhabited until the 17th c. so, pedalling between charming rural villages feels like stepping back into the Bronze Age, still maintaining authenticity and character. As you cycle along, grazing sheep meander past the enigmatic Nuraghi, Sardinia's ancient megalithic structures found nowhere else on the planet.
From the glittering coast of Greece to Croatia's natural wonders, the Mediterranean is graced with a myriad of alluring islands. But our hearts always find their way to Sardinia, a destination that's a little closer to home, where the fusion of the Sardo language, supernatural landscapes, and longevity-forward local life create a truly unique experience.
Discover the region's Blue Zone secrets from the comforts of your private luxury ship on our Sardinia & Corsica Biking trip.