Sardinia


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June 13th 2015
Published: June 13th 2015
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Friday 5th June Porto Torres to Alghero 112 miles

We arrived at Sardinia at 10.00am as scheduled! First impressions were of an industrial port – not a great start!! We turned left and followed the road to Castelsardo – that was more impressive!! A huge castle & fort amid a hilltop overlooking the sea that beckoned to be explored! Wandered upwards to the castle at the top with views over the town and then back down to the tower and the cathedral! The tower had been built by the Doria family in 1600 as a lighthouse whilst the cathedral was being built! Loads of old narrow streets with old ladies sat doing their basketwork producing loads of plates and baskets that no-one uses these days! Onwards to Isola Rossa which is not actually an island but takes its name from the rose coloured island offshore! Well – it was all quite pink and with the turquoise seas looked quite stunning! The photos definitely do not do it justice!

We had seen postcards of an ‘elephant rock’ near to Porto Torres so it was a challenge to see if we could find it ourselves!! Quite bizarre – just an elephant shaped piece of rock by the roadside, the base of which had been hollowed out for ancient tombs!

Back towards PortoTorres and we just had to visit the pre-nuraghic Sanctuario di Monte d’Accoddi, one of the most interesting sites in ancient Sardinia!! ( according to Eyewitness Travel Book!!!) The sanctuary dated from 2450 – 1850 BC and provides the only example of a megalithic alter in the western Mediterranean! It was actually quite impressive and I quite enjoyed it – I think it was just such an old site!

Anyway, onwards to our campsite at Alghero, and a relaxing evening and free half hour wifi at reception!! ( ACSI Camping La Mariposa)

Saturday 6th June 2015 Alghero to Bosa 36 miles

So much to do and so little time…well that’s how it seems!! Left the campsite and parked up in Alghero and walked along the Paseo (very reminiscent of Rethymnon in Crete!) to the old town! Hijacked by a boat cruise and ‘if we booked now we could have it for 10.00 euros each instead of 16.0 euros each’ that left us just half an hour to whip around the ramparts, battlements, towers and old town!! The boat trip took us out to the Grotta di Nettuno, where after viewing a hole in the rocks we were asked to walk the plank into the entrance of the cave! Two boatloads of people, information in three languages, we all duly filed around the 200 metres of the cave! But it was actually very impressive…I could almost say its one of the best caves we have ever seen..and we only saw a small amount of it, as it extends over 8600 feet. Definitely worth a visit!

Onwards towards Bosa on the SP49 that hugs the coastline for about 25 miles! Lovely views and pretty bays, loads of flowers and butterflies, red fire-flame bush type trees, different coloured cliffs and unusual rock formations made the drive interesting! Went into Bosa and parked up by the river (Sardinia’s only navigable river), as we wanted to walk up through the narrow alleys between the pastel coloured houses to the castle! Hot sunshine still but rumbles of thunder in the distance……had an ice-cream and then the heavens opened!! Wild weather with lightening, thunder and torrential rain! Luckily we sheltered in the ice-cream bars out door umbrellas!! Half an hour later it was all over and we walked up the 200 or so steps to the castle, around the battlements and towers and then back down again! Back to the campsite we had spotted earlier where we checked in and spent the evening watching the sunset over the sea! (Campsite S’Abba Druche)

Sunday 7th June Bosa to S’Archittu 93 miles

A lovely sunny day again as we headed off towards Macomer. We past lots of nuraghe – well, most were sort of tumbled down hills of stones, some roughly laid out into villages, and there were a few with doorways still intact. They were built by the Nuraghi people between 1800BC and 500BC and were used as dwellings or a fortress. Not a lot else is known about this race of people as there was no written language but over 1500 bronze figures have been found in tombs and holy wells. We had high hopes of exploring the Santa Barbara Nuraghe just by the S131 near Macomer but as it turned out, we were on a dual carriageway with no access to the site and all as we could see was just a tower in a field!

We carried on to the S19 turnoff to Santu Lussurgiu, across the plain to the town, which is built on the side of an extinct volcano. Walked down through the town on the maze of cobbled streets and admiring the tall, coloured buildings to the church where there was a wedding! Back up again and onwards to San Leonardo de Siete Fuentes where on the first Sunday in June there was supposed to be a Horse Festival! High hopes once again because as we drove into the town there were lots of tents, restaurants and a man riding a horse!! Mmmmmm….well it turned out that the tents were just a regular Sunday market and the horserider – well, I think he was just passing through!!! Walked up through the forest, past more restaurants and a lovely wooded picnic area flowing with streams, to the seven springs! This water is said to be radioactive and diurectic so Chris had a good drink and filled his water bottle! I was a bit more hesitant…….I’ll see if He glows in the dark later !!

Next we were going to go to Cuglieri, but for some reason we ended back in Santu Lissurgiu and on the road to Bonarcado! I can only blame my swollen eye from a mosquito bite for the error!!! By the time we had driven back to Cuglieri, the storm clouds had gathered again and thunder was heard in the distance which made walking up to the church Santa Maria della Neve, slightly less attractive! Plus we weren’t quite sure of the way!

Onwards to the coast to S’Archittu where there are white limestone cliffs that have eroded on one part to create a natural bridge across the sea! Had a quick wander along the promenade, but rain was threatening and the thunder getting closer, so it ended up as a quick dash to take the photos and back again, without getting too wet!! (ACSI Camping Bella Sardinia)





Monday 8th June S’Archittu to Torre Grande 41miles

The days are falling into a pattern - weatherwise! Lovely sunny blue skies in the morning and then the clouds start building up around 14.00 and by about 16.00 there is a thunderstorm, then the sun comes back out at about 18.00 in time for a beautiful sunset! Today was no different except that its 18.30 and still raining!!

Because it was such a beautiful morning we went back to re-visit S’Archittu and had a lovely wander along the promenade this time, beautiful turquoise sea, white rocks, flowers – it was really lovely and so glad we saw it in the sun!

Drove on to the Stagno Sale Porcus, a huge salt water lake that apparently hosts 10,000 flamingos, as well as a load of other ducks, in the spring! Walked down to the edge of the lake and saw the flamingos - at a distance!

Drove on to the oldest church in Sardinia at San Giovanni di Sinis. Quite impressive as it lies on an old roman road connecting Tharros to Cornus , and was built in the 6th Century AD on a site previously used as a necropolis, originally pagan and then Christian.

On to Tharros itself – a huge ruined Phoenician City built around the end of the 8th Century BC. By the 5th & 6th Centuries BC it had become a flourishing port and continued under the Romans until 238BC. There is also evidence that the Nuraghe people lived on the hill at Su Murru Mannu as nurgaghes have also been discovered. There is more evidence to show that the site was added to, in the 2nd and 1st C – a basalt-paved road network was completed, public baths etc. An arab invasion in the 8th Century and de-populated the City. For a brief period, around 1050, the Navarrese people revitalized a confined settlement inside the ruined city, but chronicles report that within 20 years the population moved to Oristano and by 1183 the City of Tharros was deserted.

It was quite an amazing place, just so old and so vast! Only 1/3 of the site has been excavated so far so plenty still to discover!

Stopped at 17th C San Salvatore on the way to the campsite – it’s a bit like El Rocio in Spain! A deserted village that comes alive for 9 days in August for a festival! Wanted to look in the church as there are graffiti of animals and Arabic writing and Latin letters RVF derived from the Phoenician language - but it was locked up!

Got to the campsite with a few spots of rain and thunder rumbling in the distance! Decided to walk into Grande Torre to find a supermarket (shut!) and just made it back again to the campsite without getting wet!! (ACSI Camping Spinnaker)

Tuesday 9th June Torre Grande to Calasetta

Had the best hot shower yet, on Sardinia!! ACSI Camping Spinnaker at Torre Grande is definitely recommended except that you only get 15minutes free wifi!! A short walk to the beach with sunbeds and umbrellas. The sea looked lovely but we did see an 18” jellyfish on our walk into town!

The mosquitos have not been kind to me in Sardinia! Just as the swelling on my left eye was going down, I discovered a new bite on my forehead that has made my right eye swell!! Its not a good look at all so there definitely wont be any photos of me!

Anyway, our next place to visit was Su Naraxi so after passing some flamingos, we joined the S131 for a while before we took a small white road towards Villanovaforru with the hope of seeing the Nuraghe Genna Maria on the way – that was unfortunately closed! So it was onwards, up over the hills to Su Naraxi via the little villages of Lunamatrona, Paul Arbarei and Tulli.

Su Naraxi is the largest Nuraghic Fortress in Sardinia, the original part dating back to the 15th Century BC. It was then added to in the 7th Century BC, and the village of about 200 single roomed houses was developed including a flour mill and bakery. The village was inhabited for about 2000 years before falling to the Carthaginians. A truly fascinating site. We went on a guided tour inside the Nuraghe (they must have been very thin, small people!!) to see the main fortress, which was a rabbit-warren of passages linking several large rooms , with inter-connected on several levels by steep stone steps!

That was about it for today! We wanted to explore the South West of the island so headed for Sant’Antioco, past some more flamingos and a few derelict, deserted mining works and houses. No sign of any campsites at all in Sant’Antioco – just a Sosta in a carpark so headed for Calasetta and spotted – well, it is supposed to be a campsite, but I think its just a chicken field!! The shower is open air, no sign of a toilet and just one other Italian family on site! We didn’t ask about wifi!! (Campsite on S126 towards Calasetta)

Wednesday 10th June Calasetta to Pula 82 miles

Had a look at Calasetta before heading towards Cagliari and very glad we did as it turned out to be quite a delightful little seaside town, with a tower, lovely beaches and straight tree lined streets! And lots of unmarked crossroads!!

Went back to Sant’Antioco with a view to finding the Tophet (Phoenician necropolis) and also the Carthaginian Necropolis with 40 underground family tombs. Didn’t find either but we di find the 6th century church that is said to have the remains of the islands patron saint in its catacombs. At 5 euros each we decided to give it a miss!

Drove over the mountains past Teulada and onto Chia and the 17th C Tower (closed!) where we also tried to find the ruined remains of the old Phoenician city, Bithia. No sign of any ruins anywhere so we gave up on that one and went onto Nora – another ancient city!

Nora was probably bigger than Tharros and just as impressive! 7.50 euro entry free gets you an English speaking guide and a tour of the ruins lasting about an hour! The city was originally found in the 8th Century BC by the Phoenicians, then went through the usual modifications by the Punic, Carthaginians and the Romans in the 2nd Century BC so there were bits from each period of history! Old Punic houses built of different coloured and shaped rocks originally held together with mud and straw, impressive Roman Baths decorated with mosaics and the only 2nd Century theatre in Sardinia. Paved roman roads are still intact complete with the sewerage system running underneath. All in a beautiful setting as it was built on a spit of land jutting out to sea and has lovely sandy beaches either side!

Had a quick look around Pula, a pretty little town, before going back to a campsite near Fox E Sali (Camping Flumendosa)

Thursday 11th June Pula to Cagliari 29 miles

Our first impression of Cagliari wasn’t good as there was a huge traffic jam and the main road along the sea front was shut. Parked and found Tourist Info to discover the Little Green Tourist train wasn’t running this week due to ‘problems’! They also informed us that it was the start of the Sardinian Rally this evening and that was why the road was shut and the traffic chaotic!

Had a wander up to the baroque Cathedral, through the old town, with its five storey houses and iron balconies. The cathedral has been rebuilt several times but we had a quick wander round inside and down to the crypts to see the tombs of the Princes of the House of Savoy! More interesting was the fine Palace (Palazzo Viceregio) next door to the Cathedral, with fantastic decoration and paintings.

Had to move the Campervan so we re-joined the traffic and somehow, with the help of friendly policemen!) negotiated our way to the Camping Car Park just behind the Basilica di Bonaria, the huge church along the sea front!

A 15minute walk took us back into the town, along the purple flowering jacanda tree lined streets, where, after buying an Italian Sim card for internet access (26 Euros!) we strolled around seeing the sights – a huge Bastillion (unfortunately shut as they are doing it up!)Torre dell’ Elefante built in 1307, and various other gates surrounding the city! Cagliari is hoping to be the City of Cultura in 2019 so there is plenty of building work going on at the moment – it will be really nice when its all finished!

Had a peer at the 2nd Century Roman amphitheatre, under which was built underground chambers by the Phoenicians. We decided to go into the botanical gardens (4 euros each) as you can also access some of these underground chambers and into an old hypogeum! Amazing place…there was a women just whistling and it sounded like chamber music!! I have a video of Chris singing ‘Ave Maria’ if anyone wants to hear!! The gardens were quite interesting with a roman cave, clover system water fountain, and loads of different plants etc! Very relaxing!

Went back down to the Port that was now buzzing and full of people trying to get a glimpse of the rally track. We ended up in an excellent place, where all the cars were inspected before the race and where they warmed up the tyres before going onto the track! Very exciting – saw Miki Biasion whoever he is, but he was one important guy – everyone wanted their photo with him!! Stayed for a couple of hours before returning to a pizza place Chris had spotted earlier, where we could make our own pizza – and they were absolutely enormous!!! (Cagliari Sosta?)

Friday 12th June Cagliari 3 miles

Had a bit of a down day today and just wandered up to the local fish market and then as it was cloudy (still 27c though!) thought we would visit the museum. It seems that all the artefacts from the whole of Sardinia are brought to this one museum so we thought it would be interesting to see them, especially from the sites we had visited. It’s quite amazing just how long ago people inhabited Sardinia – they have found traces of inhabitants from 500,000 – 100,000 BC and a lot of items dating back to 6,000 – 4,000 BC. It seems that they have also, within the last 50 years discovered a lot of the old cities etc so I am sure there are plenty of old cities not even found! Strolled back through the Old Town – Chris decided to climb the Torre dell Elefante (I resisted the urge!!) and then went back to the Campervan.



Caught the 19.30 ferry (Dimonios) to Sicily and treated to flocks of pink flamingos flying overhead as we left port! Wonderful!


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