Saturday, May 12, 2012

Italy: Spring 2012: Tuesday, May 8: Day 14: Oristano

Italy: Spring 2012: Tuesday, May 8: Day 14: Oristano

Another beautiful day....looks like Sunday was an aberration.  After a very pleasant breakfast at the hotel, we are off to Tharros, a Phoenician/Punic/Roman city, which is beautifully sited near the end of a long peninsula lined with sandy beaches about 15 kilometers from Oristano.

The site is on a hillside, descending to the water, under a 16th century Spanish guard tower.

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We walk around by ourselves, giving up on the densely written, mostly unreadable English translations scattered around.  But it is a very impressive excavation--two large thermal baths,

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 a large water cistern and acqueduct, a temple with two columns standing erect

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and a Roman road leading up to a hilltop sanctuary.

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Most, if not all, of what we are seeing is from the very important Roman city.  The colorful wildflowers are growing everywhere and make the city even more attractive.  

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We spend some time trying to locate the statue or a lion pictured on one of the signs but can't find it.

I make the climb up to the Spanish tower to get an more panoramic view of the site and the beaches.....

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After leaving Tharros-- extremely fascinating and attractive--we make a detour through the town of Cabras--a old fishing village famous for its bottarga di muggine (mullet roe) and get lost in its back streets.

North of Cabras are some more beautiful beaches...the "sand" here is actually made up of smooth, quartz pebbles

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and beaches stretch on for miles, interrupted at intervals with rocky outcroppings and pretty little coves.

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We have a sandwich for lunch at a bar along the water at Marina di Torre Grande, which is Oristano's beach town.  The tower is quite grand

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and the beach is quite pleasant

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The tower across the water is at Tharros.

Later in the afternoon, we walk around Oristano and stop for a gelato. Dinner is at a place called Craf, another Slow Food recommendation.  We enjoy our dinner a lot....I have a dish of fregola with of the best dishes I have had on the trip, followed by grilled mullet, also excellent.  Diana enjoys her prosciutto and melon and her grilled orata.  The house wine is uncomplicated but delicious dinner..

The town is quiet as we walk back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we are in search of some more nuraghe.

Jim and Diana

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