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Published: June 13th 2010
Our 4:30-ish flight to Alghero on RyanAir went quite smoothly despite RyanAir's brain-damaged check-in policy for non-EU travelers and their Nazi-esque "does your bag ACTUALLY fit in the metal thing?" baggage policy. With our arrival in Alghero, or L'Alguer in Catalan, I have now been to every major Catalan-speaking region: Andorra, Spain's regions of Catalunya, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands, France's Pyreneés Orientales department, and now L'Alguer.
Alghero was founded in 1102 by the Genoese for centuries until in 1353 the Aragonese under Bernardo de Cabrera arrived. What then ensued was essentially ethnic cleansing as the population was replaced by Catalans and Catalan became the city's prominent language. By the early 16th century Alghero received the status of King's City (ciutat de l'Alguer) and began to legitimately develop. Eventually it would become know as La Barceloneta, or "Little Barcelona" after the Spanish Habsburgs came to power along with further development. Finally in 1720 Alghero and Sardinia was handed over to the Piedmont based House of Savoy and later became part of unified Italy. The most recent linguistic research shows that 22.4% of the population speak Algherese Catalan as a first language and around 90% have some understanding of the language,
so it is nice to see that Catalan is still present!
Our arrival was a bit on the rough side in that "Elio" from our Bed & Breakfast never showed up to pick us up as we had arranged, and of course we had no idea of the address or telephone number of the place. Brilliance. After talking with the worthless woman at the information booth for a few minutes it finally occurred to her that a magical tool called the internet existed and that with a few mere clicks she could get us the address for the place. A 20€ taxi later and we were there. Elio had some b*llsh*t excuse as to why he didn't come to get us, but we were happy to be settled on another Mediterranean island.
It was perhaps a 10 minute walk to the beach from hotel and we quickly realized that there was a festival going on along the coast, La Fiera d'Alghero. Local food and drink, books and crafts, coral jewelry, and infomercial products like magic sponges were among the treasures to be found there. After walking through the festival for some five minutes I noticed some smoke closer
to the water. And there, before our eyes, were literally perhaps 50 suckling pigs roasting on spits alongside eels and coils of sausage. Absolute glory. We had plans to eat a seafood feast in the historic center but this discovery clearly warranted a change of plans. For 10€ each we managed a giant hunk of pork carcass, roasted red peppers and eggplant, bread, and 2 Sardinian beers. The pig was incredible - so moist and tender. The skin was another story - crispy and crackly and melted in my mouth. I had to be careful not to eat TOO much skin and pure fat to avoid some digestive issues later, haha.
Continuing along the coast we eventually were in the historic part of L'Alguer, which jets out into the Mediterranean. Each side or bastion is named after a famous Italian explorer, which is kind of fun - Cristoforo Colombo, Marcolo Polo, and Magellano. The architecture is beautiful and to me was very much reminiscent of Maó in Menorca with its Catalan Gothic buildings and typical palm tree-lined Mediterranean boulevards along the water. Since it was getting dark, we figured we might as well sit down and "snack" on something,
so we sat down at a restaurant overlooking the sea and settled on a bottle of Sardinian white and a big plate of mussels and cockles in a hearty Sardinian tomato broth. Perfect.
On our way home we once again went through the festival, this time filling a bag full of candy, mostly licorice, and also trying a rather underwhelming canoli. Oh well - we'd have plenty more time to stuff our faces!
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