Raphael Minder has a nice NY Times piece on Catalan in Alghero:
The first Catalans reached Sardinia in the 14th century, when troops sailed from the eastern coast of what is now Spain as part of an expansion into the Mediterranean.
After an uprising slaughtered the forces garrisoned in this northern port on the island, King Peter IV expelled many of the locals. In their place, he populated Alghero mostly with convicts, prostitutes and other undesirables, many of them Catalans.
Today, Alghero is a linguistic anomaly. This walled and picturesque city is, quite literally, the last bastion of Catalan in Italy. […]
But while the traditional insularity of Alghero has helped to preserve Catalan, the language is struggling to survive even here.
Only about one-quarter of the 43,000 inhabitants of Alghero speak Catalan as a main language, according to local officials. It is hardly spoken among younger people and barely taught in schools. Nearly a century ago, almost everyone spoke Catalan, according to a census conducted in 1921. […]
After Sardinia was taken over by the Turin-based House of Savoy in 1720, eventually becoming part of what is modern-day Italy, the Catalan language virtually disappeared on the island.
Now, Catalan is not only overshadowed by Italian, but it must also compete for recognition with a handful of other languages and dialects, including the dominant indigenous language, Sardinian.
Catalan is rarely heard on the streets in Alghero, though many signs are written in the language. Restaurants also label some of their dishes as Catalan, including a local version of paella.
There’s more at the link, including a useful map and some photos. Needless to say, I regret the approaching disappearance of Algherese (as the locals call it), but I can’t see much hope for staving it off. (Thanks, Trevor!)