Monday, October 24, 2011

SEPTEMBER IN SARDINIA: Part II, The Supramonte

(Trip to Sardinia, September 2011, Continued)
Valley below the Supramonte, near Su Gologone

Su Gologone
Entrance to Hotel Su Gologone
After leaving Barumini, we headed north for the town of Oliena, located at the foot of the mountains of the Supramonte, and Su Gologone, the large, upscale country hotel where we would spend three nights.  (Su Gologone gets its name from the ancient spring across the road from the hotel. “Su” is a Sardinian word meaning “the” and “gologone” means “spring”.) The hotel is reputed to have the best restaurant in Sardinia and the food was excellent.  Dinners feature suckling pig roasted on spits in a huge fireplace in the dining room. Breakfasts are a smorgasboard of fresh fruits, breads, meats, yogurt, muesli, cheeses, pastries, eggs, juice, plus tea or caffe latte.
Breakfast is eaten on a screened in terrace
The rooms and hallways of the hotel are filled with the art collection of the owner, displaying colorful costumes, masks, paintings, pottery, rugs, and other typical Sardinian crafts.  From the balcony of our bright and airy room we could hear the tinkle of sheep bells on the nearby hillside and glimpse the top of the stony massif beyond.  To orient ourselves, we signed up for an excursion the next day.
  
To the Top of Mount Corrasi
Climbing to the top of Mount Corrasi, nearly 5000 feet high
In the morning we met our guide, Antonello, who escorted us to a Land Rover, pointing to the top of the massif and indicating that we were going there.  He only spoke Italian so we didn’t get details.  We assumed that we’d drive part way and hike the rest.  We didn’t realize that he planned to drive nearly all the way to the top!  After zigzagging through the narrow streets of Oliena, he turned off the highway onto a dirt track, passing first through a forest, then along the rock face, one hairpin turn after the next, on the narrow boulder strewn road which had no guard rail and dropped precipitously on one side.  Finally, he reached a small parking area.  From there we scrambled on foot over rocky terrain between the thistle and other low growing plants to the summit of Mount Corrasi.  The view was, indeed, breathtaking and worth the rock jolting trip up.

The Lanaitho Valley
Nuraghic Stone basin and Ram's head water spouts at Sa Sedda e Sos Carros
 The second half of our excursion with Antonello was to the Lanaitho Valley, a long secluded river valley within the Supramonte.  At the far end, after passing through olive groves, horse meadows, and along a tree lined avenue, we came to the grotto of Sa Ohe e Su Bentu and the Nuraghic village Sa Sedda e Sos Carros. After paying our entrance fee for the village, we got a private tour in English from an extremely knowledgeable young woman who pointed out, among other things, the elaborate plumbing system–still in place!  Like many prehistoric sites in Sardinia, the village was completely buried and unknown until just a few years ago. It is still being excavated.  When we returned from the village, Antonello took us on a tour of the cave, one of the many limestone caverns throughout the Supramonte. 

A Day at the Beach
Cala Fuili Beach, near Cala Gonone
The next day we drove to the coast, about an hour away, winding our way down the mountain to the town of Cala Gonone on the Gulf of Orosei.  Our plan was to take a boat to the grotto and beach of Cala Luna a few miles to the south.  However, because of expected high winds (which never appeared while we were there) all boat trips for the day were canceled.  Instead, we hiked to a closer beach, Cala Fuili, about 2.5 miles away at the end of the road from Cala Gonone.  By this time it was noon and warm in the full sun (the temperature was in the low 80's), making a swim in the sea even more attractive.  As we arrived at Cala Fuili, we discovered dozens of rock climbers scaling the walls of the canyon.  For ourselves, we walked down the steps to the beach!
At the end of the day we returned to Su Gologone to enjoy a glass of Sardinian red wine on the terrace and watch the sun set over the valley below.

(Look for Sardinia, Part I:  Ancient Crossroads of the Mediterranean posted October 17 and Sardinia, Part III:  Giants' Tombs, Sassari, and the Sinis Peninsula posted October 31.)
Ruins of an early church near Su Gologone

1 comment:

pmslib9 said...

What a fabulous trip and how brave you were. I'm still holding my breath on your journey up the mountain.