#12 / Where the wind blows straight across from Africa
And here we are wandering about Sardinia, the second largest island in Italy (and the Mediterranean), nestling in the Tyrrhenian sea like a giant footprint, well fancy that! ;) Indeed, to Greek and Latin people alike it was known as Ichnussa ("footprint") or Sandalion ("sandal").
I decide to stop off in Cagliari, the regional capital and a beautiful city in the center of the Gulf of the same name, right in the south of the island. The oldest part of the city center (known as Casteddu, "castle") is built on a rock, behind the port and the lively Via Roma, with its wealth of grand nineteenth century buildings and porticoes. As we saw in Sicily, the monuments here in Cagliari are also the product of a variety of cultures and rulers: from the Punic necropolis of Tuvixeddu to the Roman amphitheater, from the Byzantine Basilica of San Saturnino (the oldest on the island) to the nineteenth century military fortifications (such as the famous Saint Remy Bastion)...
Today I’m in the company of Valeria, who deals with our online orders. She is the person who assembles all your purchases and ensures they reach their correct destination. Yes, that might include you.
She is in Sardinia because she loves vacations by the sea; the color of the sea here is turquoise and is as clear as if we were in the Tropics. Have you ever been here? Cagliari also has a very beautiful beach called Poetto, which shares its name with the area just on the outskirts of the old town.
And that’s where I’m taking you for our stroll. The coastline along Poetto runs past Liberty-style villas (these were once vacation homes, nowadays many of them are charming B&B’s) –and the walk is dotted with small bars and refreshment stands where you can sit and eat an ice-cream or enjoy a cold drink. It can get extremely hot in Cagliari, especially when the scirocco blows straight across from Africa down there to the south... Sometimes the atmosphere is actually filled with a fine dust and this is none other than sand from the Sahara: pretty incredible eh?
By evening we have scaled the spectacular Sella del Diavolo [The Devil’s Saddle]; this promontory shelters Poetto from the storm surges driven by the Mistral, another wind that often swirls around these parts. And so we make our way back into town. On the menu tonight is a plate of Fregola con le arselle [Fregula pasta with clams] and there’s no way we're missing out on that! Also known as Sardinian couscous, it is a type of pasta with grains the size of rice, and it is able to hold and release flavor one mouthful after another. To round this off beautifully, I recommend a truly original dessert, Seada, it’s a kind of fried pastry stuffed with cheese and drizzled with honey. A mix of sweet and savory: a real specialty!
Now we are heading north: I have yet another stop in Sardinia in mind...you’ll see...