From 1718 until 1861 (the birth of the modern state Italy) Sardinia together with Piedmont formed the Kingdom of Sardinia. The development of the infrastructure went very slow compared to the rest of Italy. It only started off with the construction of the main road under Carlo Felice (Charles Felix), the state road that still carries his name and in 1883 when the first railway connected Cagliari with Sassari, the two main cities of the island. After World War I, under Mussolini, the swamps and ponds on the west-coast were drained and the most succesful agricultural community on Sardinia was founded, Arborea (called initially Mussolinia).Coalmining was developed and Mussolini founded the town of Carbonia, called after the coalmining industry (in italian carbone). After World War II the importance of coalmining declined dramatically with the advent of oil and gas. Many attempts to create an industrial basis for the region did not succeed very well because of the high costs of transportation that could not compensate the cheaper labour. The areas of Cagliari and Porto Torres (the old roman Turris Libisonis) have benefited most of these industrial developments (raffineries near Sarroch).
Important persons in the recent history of Sardinia
Grazia Deledda: Nobel prize for literature in 1926.
Antonio Gramsci: member of the communist party, imprisoned by Mussolini which led to his death.
Antonio Segni: president of Italy 1962 to 1964
Today Sardinia is an autonomous region thanks to it's rich historical past and cultural heritage. In the last decades the main developments have been achieved in the field of tourism. Mostly in northern Sardinia (La Maddalena, Costa Smeralda) and along the southcoast near Cagliari tourism has developed into an important economic resource because these areas are easily reached from the mainland of Europe. Many initiatives have been taken to save the historical and cultural heritage and make it accessible for the public. Much is done to protect the natural environment, specifically by the regional and national authorities aided by the local authorities and institutions. The constitution of national parks and the nomination of sites for the list of world heritage of the UNESCO are examples of a succesful strategy.
In the last decades also the information technology, following the development of media (television, radio) have contributed in improving knowledge about Sardinia. It is hoped for that this will finally draw Sardinia out of it's relative isolation and will place it back on the maps of the Mediterranean area. The story of Tiscali, a company named after the caves of Tiscali, that started as a small Sardinian company and grew out to international proprotions, gives an example of the potentials that is hoped for.
This text is mainly based on the educational text La Sardegna of A Caocci (Milano 1992) and on the latest news articles found in the newspapers and on internet (i.e. Wikipedia). A tip is the film of the brothers Taviani: Padre Padrone, based on the autobiography of a young Sardinian man. For more information on the mining industry in Sardinia I refer to minesofsardinia.com