The Endless Island: Sardinia

In the midst of the culture of the Mediterranean, I feel most at home.  Especially at the golden hour, the charm of the Mediterranean glows at its most gorgeous in Sardinia.  A vast island that requires much patience and driving and time, Sardinia needs much more than a week even to scratch the surface. Impeccable food, friendly and civilized people, rich history, diverse landscapes and beaches to rival anywhere, Italy is rightfully proud of its Sardinia.  Here are some highlights from our trip.

 

The original columns in the ancient Roman city of Nora, near Pula, Sardinia. In the background stands a Spanish tower. King Felipe II constructed these towers all around the island, each visible from the next by fire, as protection from constant Moorish pirate raids.

 

Still intact mosaic floors in Nora (Pula).
Part of the ancient city of Nora is submerged under the Mediterranean Sea. Just off shore lies a paradise for divers and ample opportunities for looters who do not understand the value of knowledge and museums.

 

 

Still intact mosaics in Nora (Pula).

Cannonau is probably Sardinia’s most widely produced red wine. And it is excellent. There are vineyards peppered all over the island, producing at least 15 distinct varieties of the inspiration of Bacchus.

 

 

The view at sunset at from the Citadella di Musei, Cagliari.

 

Another shot of Cagliari at the golden hour.

 

The sublime tranquility of a Mediterranean terrace in the morning. I took this photo as the medieval church next door rang its bell.

 

A throwback to when Mussolini made the public service announcements. Cagliari.

 

Inside the neo-gothic Cagliari Cathedral.

 

The Roman amphitheater in Cagliari. The chambers below were used to cage wild animals which were released on other animals and gladiators.

 

Salted pomadoros drying in the sun.

 

An olive tree inside an ancient cloister.

 

My effort at a Magnum photo of an afternoon in the church.

 

I really wanted to spot a Sardinian wild cat (Felis lybica sarda) on our drive. I found one sleeping at the visitors center at Su Nuraxi, near Barumini, and another sleeping at a beach bar on the island of Sant’Antioco. Maybe not so wild… He is plainly identifiable by his characteristic markings, pointed ears, and large paws, but apparently some have learned to mildly domesticate themselves.

 

The colorful explosions of Mediterranean balconies at late morning. Sassari, Sardinia

 

My excellent Magnum photo book and some real espresso.

 

The remains of a medieval castle, near Barumini, Sardinia.

 

The emblematic colorful dome at the Church of San Michele, Alghero, Sardinia.

 

There are some cities and towns who have collectively capitulated to the pathetic practice of selling magnets and t-shirts. Alghero, with such potential to teach a rich culture and history, has resigned itself to getting as much as it can out of its catatonic tourist hordes for 3 months out of the year. Beautiful marina, though.

 

 

What used to be a busy street in the Roman city of Nora, near Pula.

 

Warm, south-facing dwellings in Cagliari.

 

Traces of Pisa and Tuscany can be seen here in the incredible Romanesque Basilica di Sacarggia. Some say that Sacarggia is an ancient word for “cow,” as the old story goes that there once was a black and white spotted cow that would come to pray here every morning. But, it is rather a derivation of the Latin sacraria (shrine), and the cows that came to “offer their milk” to the friars makes for good source material for legend.

 

The Basilica di Sacarggia.

 

Lifeguard equipment at the tranquil beach at Torre Grande, near Oristano, Sardinia.

 

 

The Nuraghi civilization lived in Sardinia from 1800 BC – to approx. the 2nd Century AD. The only written records of these people come from classical Greek and Roman literature, more mythical than factual. More than 7,000 of these circular Nuraghi forts can be seen throughout Sardinia.

 

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