What a hassle flying is getting to be; still I made it to Caglieri, Sardinia, my first destination. This lovely island in the Mediterranean is part of Italy. Its capital, Caglieri (pronounced Cull’-yer-ee—-roll the ‘r’) is a beautiful city.
I’m staying in a very nice hostel near the main piazza; they serve an Italian breakfast of a croissant and all kinds of coffee. Yes, the coffee comes out of a machine with buttons, so it’s not perfect, but what is?!
I spent most of my first full day getting organized. I had forgotten my electric adapter so I had to chase all around to find one to buy. Then I bought train and bus tickets for some day trips, and also for when I leave, next week.
The next day I took a walking tour mapped out in the Lonely Planet to see the sights. Unfortunately it was the first hot, humid day, and the tour meant climbing up and down—-it kind of wore me out! Still there was lots to see.
I’ll spare you all about the churches, except the
Cathedral of Santa Maria had two wonderful marble pulpits carved by Guglielmo da Pisa in 1312. Several of the buildings had been rebuilt after World War II—-I hadn’t realized that Sardinia was bombed.
Of course the Romans were here, too,
and built an amphitheater but it had been badly pillaged for building materials so was barely recognizable.
Still they have concerts in this place in the summer!
From the Castello, way up high, with its thick walls,
one has marvelous views of Caglieri. And the Lion’s Gate does have a couple of lions on it.
The next day I tackled the museums way up high in the Castello. Just walking up is a chore! The Archeological Museum was a gem! There were some beautiful cross-shaped females faintly reminiscent of the ones in the Greek Islands. Then there were the bronze figures that go back to the Neolithic time—-6000-3500 BCE. There are lots of them, all interesting. Most are about three inches high, but some are as large as eight inches. These nurighic bronzetti have been invaluable for archeologists to learn about the lives in this era.
Of course the Romans were here—-took over the island in 227 BCE. They, too, built temples and left their mark.
Following that museum I went to the Pinacoteca, which had art from the 1400s to the 1800s. Prominently displayed
were four works by Pietro Cavaro who founded the Stampace School of art and is Sardinia’s most important artist. I did think the St. Peter and St. Paul paintings were special.
But wait! There was More! In the San Pancrazio building they had a display of ‘recovered’ art. All of this art had been stolen or illegally excavated. The Italian police did an investigation and found over 5000 pieces in Basil, Switzerland, which they confiscated in 2013!. Included were many nurighic bronzetti, as well as a Gaugin and a Van Gogh! There was some wonderful old religious art, too, by some of the Florentines.
I staggered back down the mountain to a good restaurant where I had great seafood for my linner. My ‘starter’ was mussels—-well now I’m spoiled and won’t want the ones I buy at Whole Foods. These were so good! I suppose they were harvested that morning. I followed this up with pasta (with local sausage) and King Prawns.
Oh, I forgot—-the night before last I had decided to get some air and as I headed down the steps to the Piazza San Sepolcro I heard music—-it was a free amateur show with stilt walkers, dancing to recorded music. So I had a small beer as I watched the show. Yes, Caglieri is a lively town!
Today I took an 8:00 bus to a town called Pula. On the way there I saw flamingoes in the backwater from the Mediterranean.
From Pula I got a shuttle to go to Nora, which has lots of layers of history. Nora was founded by the Phoenicians in the 6th C. BCE; the Romans took over the island in the 3rd C BCE. Virtually all of what I saw dated to Roman times. There were Roman baths and mosaic floors and there was a small theater.
Unfortunately the shuttle bus returning to Pula wasn’t coming for two more hours, and then, if I waited, I would miss my Caglieri bus. The Lonely Planet book said it was four km—-easily walkable but when we came, I noticed that it seemed much longer than four km. Then which way to go? I started walking and wondering if I were on the right road. Yes, I finally came to a sign that said, “Pula.” I kept going but it WAS more than four km and it was getting late. So I stuck out my thumb to hitchhike. I know, Europeans don’t hitchhike (nor any more do Americans, I think) and several cars went by. Luckily one stopped—-an older couple from Milan—-who didn’t look like ax murderers! They dropped me at the Piazza, but it was still an hour until my Caglieri bus. So, even though it was too early to eat, (only noon), I did anyway. I had a small draft beer and roast goat cheese. Was that good! On the way home I stopped and bought more fruit—-the cheese and bread with olive oil was pretty heavy!
After I got off the bus I checked into renting a car for a day, since an important World Heritage Site of a Paleolithic Nuraghe settlement—-in fact the most important one on the island—-isn’t reachable by bus with any good timing. I’ll probably do this on Saturday. However, the Sardinian drivers (like the mainland Italians) are skilled but aggressive. The way those cowboy bus drivers were slinging those buses around in the bus yard—-some were even double buses with the accordion connection—-didn’t bother them. They backed them up very fast, right up to a building, two feet away. I hope they don’t sling me off the road!
Anyway, all is fine and I’m enjoying Sardinia. I’ve been mostly alone in my dorm (I think the lady is ‘protecting’ me) so I’ve been kind of isolated. That’s why I stay in the dorms—-to interact with other travelers. I finally had three roommates last night, of which two were from France and one from Germany. Everybody is surprised when they find that I’m American. I think not many come here.