Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Italy: Spring 2012: Saturday, May 5: Day 11: Cagliari-Oliena

Italy: Spring 2012: Saturday, May 5: Day 11: Cagliari-Oliena 

This is our last morning in Cagliari...I have really enjoyed staying here--both for the festival and the city itself--lively with interesting things to see and do.  (Diana may be less enthusiastic because of the hilly terrain.)   The hotel has worked out well....very spacious room, great location and friendly management.  It would be better if there were an elevator to the first floor....

We say goodbye to the friendly folks at the bar and the boss (who urges us to visit his hometown of Sassari) gives us our last breakfast "on the house".   We are heading to Oliena located in the mountainous central part of the island.  If we took the fast road, we could get there in two hours but we want to see something of the southeastern coast so we decide to take the slow route.

Once we clear the Cagliari suburbs and beach areas, the Sardinian scenery kicks in.  The road goes high up on the side of the mountains that come right down to the water, and it winds in and out giving wonderful views of both the coast and the rugged interior.

We make a stop at Cape Carbonara, which is the southeasternmost point on the island.  The beaches here are long, and wide with bright white sand.

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but as soon as we turn the corner and begin heading north, we get some more of the broad vistas over the water/

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The road then heads inland and  the landscape that we pass through is quite amazing.  The road climbs up and up steadily and with the frequent changes of direction we are constantly having new perspectives on the wooded mountains, the hill towns, and off in the distance, the Mediterranean.  It is really quite spectacular...this picture from the internet will give you some idea of what we saw.

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At the end of the exhilarating drive, we pull into the Hotel Su Gologone which seems to be in a different world...although the setting is quite spectacular--deep in the woods under a rugged row of mountains.

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The hotel is quite rustic yet very sophisticated....beautiful extensive grounds with swimming pool, tennis court and children's play area, with lots of terraces and patios for sitting and relaxing.  

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When we arrive, the hotel is packed with guests from a wedding luncheon that had taken place and there were people sitting, children running around and lots of activity.  But when they clear out, the place is very peaceful.

The entire hotel is decorated with the work of Sardinian painters and folk artists...there are hangings and display cases in all the public rooms as well as in the bedrooms.

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Our room is a three room suite (I did get an upgrade since the contact was made through our friend and colleague Maddie)....a small sitting room, the bedroom, another sitting room with an enormous jacuzzi and two balconies---and all decorated with a range of Sardinian paintings and folk art.  Quite sumptuous.... ( This is now Diana - I have to add some more detail. The handicrafts include gorgeous carved wooden chests, ceramics, rugs, linens, etc. The bathroom has bright turquoise and white tiles with folk patterns.  The hallway towards our room has a display of woven saddle bags, over 100 years old. Each room is named after a Sardinian artist and ours is full of Biasi paintings and lithographs. The public areas have beautiful, brightly colored pillows and amazing flower pots.  The place is gorgeous!  It's not perfect - tacky plastic glasses in the bathroom, and not great towels, but it is altogether a truly sumptuous treat.)

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After we get settled, I take a short walk down a country road to the park a few hundred meters away...there is a spring  (Su Gologone) and picnic area and playground set in the woods under the imposing mountain ridge.  

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Since this is Italy, in the parking lot is a food truck and a bookstore/gift shop--even in this somewhat remote place.

We eat dinner at the hotel dining room (included in our rate) and it is terrific.

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The service is smooth and the food is excellent, including the wonderful Sardinian bread- pane carasau. We start with an expansive antipasto buffet that tastes as good as it looks, Diana has ravioli stuffed with wild fennel and cheese and the roast pig, grilled in the gigantic fireplace.

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I have the pane frattau again--the crisp Sardinian bread softened and served with a bright tomato sauce topped with a fried egg  and some grilled sausages.  We drink a nice Sardinian wine...a blend of Sangiovese and Cannonau, which lightens the more robust wine typical of Sardinia.
We climb two flights of stairs to get to our room after dinner (there is no elevator) working off a little of the meal....tomorrow, we explore this mountainous region.

Jim and Diana

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