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Alghero, Italy

The city of Alghero on Sardinia was founded in 1102 by the powerful Doria family from Genoa on the Italian mainland—though long before they arrived, Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs all had settlements in the area. The civilization that had the most influence on the island's fifth-largest city was, however, not Italy but Spain; specifically Catalonia. One of Alghero’s nicknames is Little Barcelona, and the local dialect has much in common with the Catalan spoken on Las Ramblas. The Catalans conquered Alghero in 1353 and colonized it, building the city walls that can still be seen today. Thanks to their economic and military power, the Algheresi—both Italians and colonists—enjoyed a golden age of prosperity lasting well into the 16th century. Today this cosmopolitan and outward-looking city of traders and mariners is a pleasure to wander around, its buildings pink, white and gold in the sunshine, above the clear blue sea. Sitting on a promontory behind the walls built by the Catalans, the compact old town (it makes up just one-tenth of the city today) is where the sights are concentrated and is easy to explore on foot.