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Alghero, Italy

The mountainous island of Sardinia, just ten miles south of Corsica, is the second largest in the Mediterranean. Fought over by various invaders over the centuries (from Romans to Goths to Vandals to Byzantines to Saracens), the island was eventually given to the King of Aragon. Spanish rule continued up until 1713, when Sardinia fell under Austrian rule, followed by the House of Savoy. The King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II, would become the first King of Italy.The walled town of Alghero is a good starting point for excursions into the scenic northwest coast. Steep cliffs slice into the aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean, with jagged mountains serving as dramatic backdrops.