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A tourist-friendly town of about 45,000 inhabitants, with a distinctly Spanish flavor, Alghero is also known as "Barcelonetta" (Little Barcelona) for its strong Catalan ties. Rich wrought-iron scrollwork decorates balconies and screened windows; Spanish motifs appear in stone portals and bell towers. The town was occupied in the 14th century by the Aragonese and Catalans, who constructed seaside ramparts and sturdy towers encompassing an inviting nucleus of narrow, winding streets with honey-color palazzi. The dialect spoken here is closer to Catalan than Italian, although you probably have to attend one of the masses conducted in Algherese (or listen in on stories swapped by older fishermen) to hear it.

Besides its historic architectural gems such as the cathedral and Palazzo d’Albis, the fortified city is well worth a visit to simply stroll and discover local culture on narrow cobblestone streets. The city also has a reputation for serving great food at reasonable prices.

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Fodor's Essential Italy 2024

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