|Arzachena, Tomb of the Giants "Coddu Vecchiu"|
Arzachena and Tombs of the GiantsAfter leaving Su Gologone, we headed north to the town of Arzachena, the center of a half-dozen Nuragic sites. Besides the towers, the other distinctive structures of the Nuraghic culture are the so-called “giants' tombs”, large stone sepulchers, often fronted by a huge stone “door”. In fact, the graves were not for giants, (the ancient Sardinians were of relatively small stature) but intended for multiple burials. At first I thought that the tiny opening at the bottom of the center stone was meant for people to crawl through, but then learned that it was symbolic, intended as a door for the spirits.
Sassari, Sardinia’s University Town
|Sassari Cathedral, Gargoyle|
|Cactus fruit, eggplant, olives|
Bay of Nymphs
|Lighthouse, Porto Conte|
On the last afternoon in Sassari, we drove about half hour to the coast for a 4.5 mile walk through a nature preserve at Porto Conte, known in ancient times as Port of the Nymphs. We followed a track through a scrub forest to Punto Giglio (Lily Point) where there are the remains of barracks and gun emplacements from World War II. On the way, we were surprised to hear the noise of vehicles behind us. Soon a policeman appeared on a motorcycle, leading a convoy of jeeps, motorcycles, trucks, and other army vehicles, all decorated with American and Italian flags and filled with men and women in U.S. military uniforms. At first we thought it was some sort of military exercise, but then we noticed that the uniforms were fifty years old! Perhaps, we thought, we had landed in the middle of a movie reenacting the American liberation of Italy. It turned out to be a club of people who collect World War II memorabilia and have excursions like this in “costume” to historic sites. (As it turns out, the war never actually came to Sardinia. The Americans bypassed Sardinia on their march into Europe from Africa, entering Italy via Sicily.)
|Punto Giglio (Porto Conte)|
Roman Ruins and Flamingos
|Tharros, Roman Ruins|
|Flamingos, Stagno Ena Arrubia|
Off the Beaten Track for AmericansOur trip to Sardinia was timed for September to take advantage of the good weather (not too hot, not too cold) and to avoid the summer tourist crowds. Sardinia is a popular tourist destination for Europeans, especially in summer when they flock to the beaches. However, few Americans go to Sardinia. During our week there, we did not encounter any and we only met a few native English speakers including one generous Englishman who helped us navigate our way through Cagliari when we got lost. Earlier that day, when we asked the hotel clerk for directions into the city, she had asked rather incredulously, “You didn’t get GPS with your rental car?” We didn’t opt for GPS because of the expense, and although we did manage without it, there were a few times when it might have come in handy. Much of Sardinia IS off the beaten track. One of the things we liked best, is that in many places we visited, we were the only ones there.
|Arzachena: Nuraghic Complex "La Prisgiona", entrance to the tower|
Getting there: Sardinia has airports in Cagliari, Olbia and Alghero. You can fly to Sardinia from several cities in Italy on Alitalia, or from Paris on Meridiana. I flew from Los Angeles to Paris, and then to Cagliari via Rome.
Shopping: Most shops, except in tourist areas, are closed on Sundays. During the week they close for lunch between 1:00 and 4:00 and then stay open until dinner time at 8:00 or 9:00. So, if you need to buy anything, plan to shop when they stores are open!
ATMs: Only the larger towns have banks with ATMs and even then, there may be just one or two. It helps to ask at the local tourist office for directions to one.
(Look for Sardinia, Part I: Ancient Crossroads of the Mediterranean posted October 17 and Sardinia, Part II: The Supramonte posted October 24.)