Risa first visited Sardinia nearly 10-years ago. She had a Sardinian friend, and was invited to visit and stay with his parents, Aldo and Anna-Maria. When she left, she said she’d be back to visit again – and as luck would have it, we’re here visiting them, and Sardinia, once again. We’d been invited to stay and spend a little time with them.
We were utterly spoilt with food, with delicious cheeses, meat, pasta and vegetables. And, not just tonight, but every night. And morning. And day. If you’re reading this Aldo and Anna-Maria – Thank-you so much for the hospitality and kindness!
The next morning, after a deserved lie-in, we did some exploration of the local area. We were amazed with how many nuraghe towers we could see. They seemed to be on most of the hills in this area, generally in a pretty poor state. We tried to visit nearby, however, it was closed.
First stop was to see some more murals in the tiny town of Tinnura. These were much simpler, and more realistic, than the one’s we’d seen yesterday in Orgosolo. They painted the everyday life of old Sardinia, rather than political messages/statements.
Last night I promised that I would don traditional Sardo clothing – tell me, who wore it best? I think Risa, if I’m being completely honest, though only because I don’t know how to look pensive for a photo.
The murals also gave a chance for us to get a glimpse of some of the different aspects of Sardinian culture, not just the clothing. We were narrowly going to miss one of these traditional festivals, which was a shame, as the photos (and mural) looked fantastic.
Lunch was at our friend’s family farm, Tamara. The serenity and scale came as a giant surprise for us – for example, who has a full sized football field? It was lovely to relax here, in the sunshine, blue skies and greenery all around.
An assortment of fresh Sardinian cheese, as well as local bread (which was similar in texture to a corn chip) started off the feasting, which continued with an amazing mushroom pasta, and was topped off with half a roast lamb! We sat in the shade, drank prosecco and watched the Giro d’Italia cross the Stelvio Pass into Switzerland. Perfection.
Funtana Su Lumarzu
The food coma subsided, and we were eventually do more than breathe and open our eyes. We heard talk about a ghost town. We arrived in Rebeccu, only to find that it wasn’t what we would call a ghost town, it was just a very quiet town – we didn’t see any inhabitants at first, but after a walk, there were restaurants setting up.
But, the main reason for visiting was to see the Nuraghic fountain. It took a few attempts, and wrong roads, but we found it eventually. It was pretty non-descript, and if we didn’t know it was from bronze-age, it would be difficult to estimate. Strangely, someone had gone a little crazy with coloured string, creating colourful webs throughout the small complex.
Necropoli Sant’Andrea Priu
The final stop of the day was to see some Nuraghic tombs. Much like the impressive ones in Turkey, these were carved into the rock. However, the ones in Cappadocia and around were sandstone (from memory), this was granite – I know which one I’d rather be carving! The site was closed, so we couldn’t see all of the areas, but the ones we could enter were simple, with minimal decorative elements. It still blows my mind that 3,500 years ago they had the tools to dig tombs like this in granite.
The brother of our Sardinian friend still lives near his hometown. It turns out that he’s a pizza chef. We’d wanted to make pizza with him, trying to learn a few secrets, but the timing was wrong. As a consolation prize, we ate some of his pizza – and I can honestly say it was some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. I had no space for food after the marathon at lunch, but still ate beyond the point of discomfort. Naples is going to have this as a benchmark. Thanks Sergio, wish we knew you were working in London while we were living there!
Not only were we spoilt by our friend’s family with our tour (and feast) yesterday, but we were going out on another tour with them today – this time in their small boat, Nibbio (Kite, like the bird). He is parked in a marina near Bosa, so we started with a quick trip up the river to see Bosa.
Risa took captain duties, while I played around with our drone. I’ll admit, it’s a whole lot harder to film a moving object! Also… there were some moments of sheer panic trying to land on a small moving boat, especially when I started getting a low battery warning, and it wanted to return to the location that it took off from – which was in the middle of the river, a few kilometres away!
Bosa was beautiful, like a mosaic of coloured houses, crowned by a large and rugged castle. We didn’t stop this time, but we’ll visit on foot later in the day.
Spiaggia di Porto Managu
We left the calm waters of the Temo River, and set sail on the equally calm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. We headed north, past several old Aragonese towers, and some beautifully windswept sandstone cliffs. All the while, we were surrounded by beautiful deep blue water.
After about 30-minutes of Risa piloting our little boat, which was put-put-putting away, Aldo took over and guided us into Managu, a small turquoise cove. It was perfection. We dropped anchor, ate lunch, and floated in these beautiful waters. The sun was shining, but the wind and waters were still quite cool, so it took a little mental preparation before diving in!
I took over captains duty for the return trip to Bosa, giving Risa a chance to photograph the beautiful coastline.
Once we’d moored and packed up Nibbio, we set off in the car to see Bosa, starting from the castle on the top! It looked grey from a distance, but up close, it appeared to be built from a combination of pink/red stones.
It also gave a fantastic view of the Temo River, and little Bosa below. The tower was particularly interesting, and we were told it’s the same design as the famous Elephant Tower in Cagliari (the capital).
There was also a very small church inside the walls. It was non-descript, and wouldn’t normally merit mention, but the frescoes inside were fantastic. There was one particular scene, illustrating the journey upon death, showing the body in three different stages of decomposition. The story is said to tell us that all bodies will decompose the same, regardless of wealth and material possessions, but the soul will live on, and it will be judged on your deeds – so be a good person!
After satisfying ourselves with the castle, we walked down through the tiny alleys in town, slowly descending past vividly coloured houses. I truly wonder if these houses are always so colourful, or if it is a modern invention to beautify and attract tourists – yes, I’m cynical. Regardless of the intent, it was indeed beautiful, especially when seen from afar – or from a drone.
If we hadn’t been spoilt enough, we were now being treated to dinner in their little holiday apartment, just outside of Bosa. We had million-dollar views of the coastline, watching the sun set, and the skies roar into colour – all while being stuffed with amazing food. I hope we can one day repay the hospitality we’ve been receiving.
After two great days with Aldo and Anna-Maria, we took off to have a little adventure on our own. But, before we could leave, we were given a prepared picnic, with sandwiches and salad!
We were going to Alghero, and then to Neptune’s Cave. We could either take the inland motorway, or we could take a panoramic coastal route. Of course we took the panoramic, even if it meant nearly an extra hour on our journey! We drove back to Bosa, and from there picked up the SP49. It immediately started climbing, and following the contours of the hills. We thought it was going to be much closer to the shore, affording great views the whole way, but it wasn’t to be. We got a few great peeks at the shore, but we were a little too far inland. It’s not to say that it wasn’t enjoyable – because it was a great drive, with great views, just not the exact ones that we were hoping for.
Grotto di Nettuno
We passed straight through Alghero, continuing along the coast for a further hour. We passed several long stretches of beach on the way to Capo Caccia, complete with large hotel complexes. The water looked nice, but the beach seemed somehow depressing.
We got lucky with a park right by the stairway down to the cave. It was a squeeze, so not sure how happy our neighbours were when they returned… There are two ways to access these caves, either via a boat, or via 600-odd steps. Of course we chose the cheaper option – in reality, it was the more adventurous option that I preferred. The views on the climb down were fantastic, well worth the effort to climb back up afterwards – even if we were already sweating on the way down.
Access to the caves is limited to tours, which happen to leave on the hour, every hour. And, of course, we didn’t know this, and arrived just after a tour had departed. We sat around in the cave entrance, looking at the small inlet lake, and the few stalagmites/tites that could be seen.
Right on cue, we had three tour boats show up, filling the small cave entrance with both noise and bodies. We waited for them to pass, and stayed at the back, allowing us a little personal space, and time to enjoy the view (and take some photos).
I can’t lie, it’s not the most impressive cave I’ve visited, nor the largest. However, it was still a thing of beauty, with several enormous columns that resembled pipe-organs. The water was incredibly calm, and exceptionally clear – and unsurprisingly filled with coins…
In some areas, the stalactites took on crazy directions, not just forming downwards. They turned, bent and twisted, reminding me of a bent drinking straw.
The loop was actually quite short, maybe only 200m, and we were soon returning back to the mouth of the cave. I was hoping for chilly temperatures, and while it was cooler than outside, it wasn’t cold.
It didn’t take long for the sweat to start forming on the climb back up to the surface. The drone made a quick and not entirely impressive flight – it did seem to piss off the seagulls and sparrows, which was a little concerning, but thankfully they didn’t do much more than circle it and make a lot of noise.
With the main visit of the day out of the way, we took a little time on the way back into Alghero, stopping for a few photos of the epic scenery on Cape Caccia. We were going to swim at one small cove, but the swimming area was so small and shallow that we weren’t sure how we were even going to get wet.
Alghero was just somewhere for us to have a quick wander around, following the old walls, and checking out the streets of the old town. The Giro d’Italia actually started from here in Alghero, and the town was fully decorated for the occasion with giant statues, and all sorts of decorated pink bike accessories! I loved it, it felt so festive – much more interesting to me than Christmas.
As planned, we followed the outer walls, which seemed smaller than I’d anticipated. There were dozens of small gelati and granita shops selling refreshments along the way. Risa didn’t complain about walking up the steps in the heat, so she was allowed an icy treat as a reward.
There was previously a very strong Catalan influence in this town, and it appears that it still remains. We were told that a Catalan dialect is spoken here, and with the Catalan flag flying, it appears that they are quite proud of their heritage.
Of course, we barely scratched the surface of Alghero, as we always do, but it seemed like a nice place to spend a night or two.
We returned back to our surrogate Sardinian family to find an enormous farewell feast had been prepared, with giant prawns (or mini lobsters), an incredible lasagne-like cheese dish, fresh fruit, and an enormous desert. I was more than a little surprised to learn that this desert is called English Soup. It was a little like trifle, with layers of sponge cake, custard, cream and strawberries on top. But, adding a little twist, there seemed to be an entire bottle of Martini added to the sponge – and no jelly. Needless to say, sleep was difficult again with all this food in our stomachs!
Our morning departure dragged on, and eventually we stayed for one more meal – which turned into another drawn out feast. This time we supplied the appetiser – takoyaki – which was popular. We said our goodbyes, and it was genuinely sad to be leaving what felt like a temporary home. Thanks again for the amazing hospitality, Aldo and Anna-Maria!
We are doing our best to get our fill of beaches before we leave Sardinia. This is a bit of a detour, but Lonely Planet described the sand as perfect white sand. So good that they used to take it to fill the beaches on Costa Smeralda.
We thought that since the beach was so far out of the way, we’d have it to ourselves. We were quite wrong. This was the busiest beach we’d visited yet, with a giant car park – fortunately far from capacity. Luckily, the beach was also reasonably large, with plenty of space for us all – it’s probably quite different story during summer.
The sand, however, was a little disappointing. It wasn’t white, at least not at first. As we walked a little further, the sand was closer to grains of Arborio rice than the sand we’re used to. It was incredibly soft to walk in, with each step slowly sinking 10-15cm into this gentle gravel. It was also incredibly varied in colour, with whites, greens, oranges, and even pinks in the mix.
We swam, but only because it was hot, and we had nothing better to be doing! The water was clear enough, but not spectacular. We had the bar set high, and it was proving increasingly difficult to be impressed!
It was 6PM when we left, and the sun was still beating down with serious strength. However, we had somewhere else we wanted to be this evening – some ancient ruins in central Sardinia.