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South down the coast from Alghero is a small medieval city called Bosa. It is about 45 km away, but it is sometimes wrongly described as being local to Alghero by tour operators. It is however a distinct area unto itself. It is a lovely, tranquil place which offers attractions to visitors seeking a peaceful but interesting time in an authentic and unspoilt working town. Many of the year round inhabitants are older people, or families. As is the case with many smaller, more remote places, the young adults often leave to find work, further education or adventure. In the summer months however the population increases, as the area is popular with Italians, and is becoming more well known and favoured by northern Europeans. It is not a mainstream or mass market holiday destination, and many would say this is its appeal.
The road between Alghero and Bosa is one of the most beautiful on the island. It passes through totally undeveloped countryside, hugging the coast on one side, with rocky hills covered in Mediterranean macchia vegetation on the other. There are spectacular views all the way to Bosa. The sea is turquoise and sparkling if it is sunny; there are reputed to be 300 days of sunshine per year in Sardinia.
Bosa is certainly worth a day trip, and maybe a longer stay. It is much smaller than Alghero and offers a different sort of experience -- less touristy, more original, grassroots Sardinian. It is set in a wild valley, surrounded by hills, with a castle perched high above the town. The historic centre has cobbled streets, pastel and bright coloured medieval tower houses, 19th century palazzos with wrought iron balconies and many interesting shops, caffes and bars. The river Temo is fringed by palm trees and has an old stone bridge, with derelict tanneries -- registered heritage sites -- along one side.
There are numerous beaches in the area. There is Bosa Marina and Porto Alabe, both sandy strands. There are also many little cove beaches, some sandy, some formed of rock sculpted into exotic flowing and jagged shapes with natural swimming pools. Breathtaking.
As with many parts of the island, the people of Bosa appreciate their visitors as they are not overrun by them. If you make the effort to speak with people, even in broken or phrasebook Italian, you will be amazed at the friendliness and hospitality you are shown. There is a strong sense of identity and heritage amongst the people of the area, which is reinforced by the many festivals and open air events which take place all the year round. It is very rewarding to visit Bosa and other Sardinian towns and villages during one of these festivals, when you will be welcomed and included in what goes on. Festivals occur on virtually a monthly basis, but of particular note are Carnevale in February on Martedi Grasso (Shrove Tuesday), Santa Maria del Mare on the first Sunday in August, and Regnos Altos on the second Sunday in September. Each one has its own particular flavour. There is a month long, small, international contemporary arts festival called Bos'Art which takes place in August, and which features music, art, film and theatre. There are also free open air events such as jazz or popular music concerts, traditional dancing and music, and travelling theatre during the summer months.
If you want to relax in Sardinia, and are a discerning visitor, looking for a less frantic holiday that is a bit different, which will get into your heart and mind and stay with you, try visiting Bosa.