You’re getting another beach photo today. Day 7 daytime was spent at the risotto-sand beach. Evening was spent with the logistics of laundry. We are not smart enough at packing or dressing to make it through 2 weeks without laundry.
Night was the best. We had moved to our next city, Alghero, a medieval town like Oristano, but more of a city, and with city walls! Stepping inside the city walls was magical and maybe I’ll have good photos of it on Day 8. It was warm and pleasant, all the bars and restaurants were chock full of revelers, it was Saturday night and the World Cup was on televisions visible through every other window, and there were lanterns lighting the streets. It felt like Old Montreal on an extremely rare warm summer night, but in Alghero this is every summer night. And Montreal doesn’t have walls and a sea view.
I like biking. So, back in the cool oblivious comfort of Vermont, when I was planning this trip unprepared for the true meaning of Sardnian heat, I pre-booked a total of three bike tours! Now the first day of reckoning had arrived! I was more than a bit scared.
Our tour guide was American and he met us at our guest house with bikes. He led us through town towards an area called the Sinis Peninsula. We started bright & early at 8:30 AM, but the sun was quickly on us, and I was bathing in sunscreen. Happily, the route was not too hilly and led us past breezy beaches; Robert stopped often pointing out plenty of lovely sites; and the terminus was one of those wonderful beachfront restaurants, where I got to have fregola a different way, with clams in broth. I didn’t even much mind the ride back in afternoon sun, and the total mileage was something like 60km, a record for me to cover in one day. High five us!
Here we are in a nearly vacant town (populated basically only once a year for a festival) called San Salvatore. It was often used as a set for spaghetti westerns. Mmmm, spaghetti…
Other sites included the white sand beach, with sand the consistency of (uncooked) Arborio rice and the temperature of (cooked) Arborio rice… and Tharros, the ruins of an ancient city dominated by two huge Corinthian columns which were wildly impressive till I read that they were reconstructions. Why is that so annoying?
My favorite Sardinian food. It’s called fregula (FRAY-goo-la). It’s a small pasta, kind of like a large couscous. It can be served all kinds of different ways, in a sauce or in a broth. Attached was my favorite meal of the trip. I’m not even a shellfish person; the pasta is the real star of the dish. They cook it in broth so it’s packed with flavor. Here you can see there are mussels, cherry tomatoes, whole cloves of garlic, herbs… and the whole experience was heightened by the cool breezy beachfront surroundings, and the thrill at how easy it is to find good food without trying. This was a random beach restaurant in a random town we’d wandered into for lunch, killing time after checking out of Cagliari and heading to our next lodging in Oristano, a medieval town up the west coast. History note, apropos of nothing: the beach was adjacent to a town designed by Mussolini and created out of swamps he had ordered drained.
Happy 20th anniversary to us! You already saw the kissy pictures.
By Day 4, it was starting to sink in: it is really too effing hot to do anything during the day! So forget the sights of Cagliari, Sardegna’s largest city, for a while: we hit the local beach instead. Here’s a view from the lighthouse hill; the beach is the sandy part in the distance. It was a nice city beach: chairs with umbrellas were for rent, and there was a full restaurant. That there was a full bar goes without saying. This was Italy. I would soon be averaging 4 drinks a day.
Only after we changed out of beach attire did we dare venture out to explore the old part of the city, in the (relative, sometimes, when there was a breeze) cool of the early evening. By nightfall it was even cool enough to climb up to Il Castello, the old walled-in way-high-up part of the city. We drank and enjoyed the view. This would establish a rhythm: avoid daytime unless submerged in the sea; frolic at night; and drink, in general.
We went to a wine tasting. I got trashed. There, I thought I’d lead with the highlight.
Day 3 things began in earnest! We got our rental car and drove inland. We visited an archaeological site. Sardegna has some 7,000 sites called nuraghi which are the remains of stone towers and settlements dating from the Bronze Age. We visited one of the best ones which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Above is the view from one of the high spots. It was all lovely, but, maybe I’ll stop saying “it was too hot.”
Then it was definitely time for wine tasting! Got a little winery tour and some vino. I felt good. Walked it off around the little town. I like wandering random Italian towns. One of my favorite things about being in Italy is seeing little old ladies and old men talking on benches. I feel my grandmother there. It was how she spent her time.
Day 2 was kind of a draggy day. We tried to wander Rome and find some mojo, but it was too hot. We decided to leave early for the port city of Civitavecchia where we’d be getting an overnight ferry (‘traghetto’) to Sardegna. We couldn’t get mojo rolling in Civitavecchia either because there was nowhere to store our luggage.
Finally came the evening and the ferry ride. Here is a shot of a container ship taken from the ferry. We like ports.
The ride from Rome (i.e. nearby Civitavecchia) to Cagliari (top city of Sardegna) was about 11 hours and left at 7:30 PM. The ferry was pretty cool with good amenities and food, and our berth had twin beds and a fully functioning bathroom. Neither of us had ever slept on a boat before.
We flew from Montreal to Rome. We slept and walked around and ate. We’d been here 15 years prior. We tried to remember landmarks. We remembered this one.