Saturday, May 12, 2012

Italy: Spring 2012: Monday, May 7: Day 13: Oliena-Oristano

Italy: Spring 2012: Monday, May 7: Day 13: Oliena-Oristano

As bad as the weather was yesterday, today the sky is blue, the sun is shining and it looks like it will be a beautiful day.  We have breakfast again outside on the terrace overlooking the pool....

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before we pack and up and get on the road.

Our first stop is the nearby hill town of Orgosolo. which was once the center of bandit country and now is trying to remake itself as a tourist attraction.  The town has become an outdoor art gallery...buildings throughout the center are painted with politically charged murals on historical and contemporary subjects.  Some are like cartoons, other are more painterly but they certainly add a distinctive edge to this otherwise somewhat rundown town.

Here are few of my pictures from Orgosolo...the attack on the World Trade Center towers on 9-11

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a Picasso-like mural on the store front where we bought some souvenirs

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a mural featuring workers

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and, of course, one of Garibaldi.

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The murals originated as an art project in the 1970s and has grown from there.  Here is a link to more of the murals.

The town has succeeded in attracting some tourism...while we were there, four busloads arrived--three groups of Germans and one Italian.

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Then it is off to Oristano, a city on the west coast of the island.  We avoid the main road for most of the trip and enjoy more of the beautiful Sardinian countryside, adorned with profusions of wild flowers everywhere. Our route takes us through the two highest towns in Sardinia--Fonni and Gavoi; both are centers for hiking and backwoods trekking.

We arrive in Oristano at mid-afternoon and check into our hotel, the Il Duomo. We are welcomed very warmly by the desk clerk Valentina and hang out in our room for a while.  I take an exploratory stroll around town to see where things are...things are very quiet but it appears to be an attractive town with lots of pedestrian areas.

The main piazza features a statue of Eleanora d'Arborea, the "guidicati" or ruler of the area in the middle ages.

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There is an imposing Aragonese tower that guards one entrance to the center

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and a tall and unique cathedral bell tower.

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We have dinner at the hotel restaurant...Josto al Duomo...which is listed in the Slow Food Guide.  The young chef is very friendly and spends a lot of time with us explaining the menu and discussing the wine but the whole evening ends up being a bit strange.

The menu is limited...there are two tasting menus and, if one wants to order a la carte, only three choices per course.   The food is not bad....we share a selection of cheese and cured meats.  Diana has dish of paccheri (large pasta tubes) with a liquidy pecorino sauce...unusual and a bit strange followed by a very good steak.  I have a soup of undercooked fregola (couscous like pasta) with seafood, followed by a good fritto misto.  The wine is very good....a ripasso di Valpolicella from the Veneto....chosen when we couldn't reach agreement with the chef about an appropriate Sardinian wine.  

We take the elevator upstairs to our room...tomorrow to the Roman city of Tharros.

Jim and Diana

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