A voyage to Sardinia. Part 3 West Sardinia

07/11/2011 13:35:59

A voyage to Sardinia. Part 3 West Sardinia

This is the third part of our voyage to Sardinia in may 2011. In the first part I talked about our trip to the southwest of Sardinia, in the second part what we managed to visit and see. In this last part our trip goes north again to the west coast of Sardinia, the province of Oristano.

The castle of Acquafredda at Siliqua
The castle of Acquafredda at Siliqua
we took the road north from San Giovanni di Suergiu via Giba and Nuxis over the mountain pass to Siliqua. From it's highest point on the road provides a magnificent view of the valley of the Cixerri and the castle of Acquafredda. This castle of the thirteenth century belonged, it was said, to Ugolino della Gherardesca, the count of Donoratico, the Pisan family that tried to enhance their foothold in Sardinia through marriages. Ugolino eventually would perish in prison, victim of the strife between Guelfi and Ghibellini in Pisa, his name made famous by the Divina Commedia of Dante Alighieri. The castle is built on a steep rocky hill, at it's foot a small village, called borgo, and reinforced by broad walls of which only part is still visible. The castle dominated a strategic position in the valley of the Cixerri and the mountainpass we just descended from.
After a visit to the castle, and a climb to the top along steep stairs, we continued our way north, via Vallermosa, Villacidro and Guspini to Terralba. We would stay another week in Terralba with family, without any specific plans to visit places which did not always turn out right.
Twice we had the opportunity of making a long walk in the area of the Monte Arci. The first walk started at Tiria at the foot of the mountain. The second walk was near Pau on the other side of the mountain. The wind blew fiercly in our face, coming from the northwest, and clouds heavy with rain threatened us so we kept our walk short. After lunch we decided to go to the top of the mountain, to the two conical rocks, the remains of the volcanic activity of the mountain. The two points that stand out are the remains of the pipes that lead to the crater that has disappeared because of erosion that inverted the mountain top. Next to the larger of the two points there is a great view of the lowlands and the Bay of Oristano with the ponds. The area of the Monte Arci is excellent for long walks and there are many places where you can picknick. There are not a lot of wild animals, the occasional wild boar. Once we saw a herd of goats moving freely in the woods, they do not always need a goatherd to guard them and find their way home by evening by themselves.
We visited two nice small museums on the Monte Arci. The first is the small museum of Pau of the Obsidian. Here the visitor is explained how obsidian was formed during the eruptions of the volcano and how humans used the volcanic glass to produce knives, scrapers and arrowheads. The second museum is a geological museum on the various minerals and rocks of the volcano. Here is also explained how Sardinia was geologically formed. The museum is at Masullas and housed in an old very nice monastery. Both museums are very educational and worthwhile visiting.
One of our excursions went to Busachi where a permanent exhibition is held on traditional costumes, it turned out this was only limited open, and closed when we arrived there. We returned back to the river Tirso and went upstream to the lake Omodeo, to the town of Sedilo where the yearly event is held of the Ardia. Near Sedilo is an important archaeological site with a nuraghe, a small village and the remains of two Tombe di Giganti. By chance we saw on the road an indication to the church of San Pietro di Zuri and I remembered having read about it in books on the Middle ages of Sardinia. We made a short deviation to take a look at the church and it was indeed a small jewel of architecture and decoration. After that we lunched at Ghilarza where we took some pictures of the town and continued to Sedilo where we visited first the archaeological site and then the small church of Saint Constantine, center of the Ardia of Sedilo. On our way back we took an old provincial road instead. It was difficult to drive because the road had been abandoned for some time. At the end we arrived near Ghilarza at the site of nuraghe Orgono.
The archaeological museum of Cabras
The archaeological museum of Cabras
A second excursion we made to the peninsula of Sinis, I never miss an occasion to lay eyes on the site of Tharros. First we drove to San Vero Milis where the great nuraghe s'Uraki lies, but unfortunately not accessible for the public at that time and very much overgrown by grass which hid most of the structure. The nuraghe is an important archaeological site where phoenician artefacts have been unearthed in a local Sardinian context of a nuraghe. We continued to Cabras to visit the archaeological museum and to San Giovanni di Sinis to view the second necropolis of Tharros subject of recent excavations (and still ongoing this year). On our way back we visited the small church and hypogeum of San Salvatore equipped with a digital camera I hoped to make some better pictures of the graffiti and wallpaintings. The remains of the roman site Domu 'e Cubas just outside the small village were cleared and I took the opportunity to make some good pictures there too. Last time we were there there the grass had covered virtually the whole site. That was unfortunately the case with the roman praetorium at Is Bangius of Marrubiu where the site was inaccessible and the structures were overgrown and invisible. Another important nuraghe, that of Domu Beccia at Uras, was likewise overgrown and inaccessible for the public. The municipalities are held responsible for the maintenance of the archaeological sites, and sometimes they outsource that to cooperations. If there is a lack of money, or there are other priorities, maintenance is not done or very little. That it is possible to maintain a site in good order was shown by Ghilarza, where the nuraghe Orgono is maintained in order for visitors, even if entrance is free. Not only is the month of May not by all considered part of the touristic season, by law municipalities and landowners should cut the grass and bushes in order to avoid the danger of forestfires, a task which is usually postponed as much as possible to reduce costs.
In effect the month of May was not warm enough to sunbath on the beaches yet. The beaches at Marina di Torregrande and along the Bay of Oristano were virtually empty, and at San Giovanni di Sinis there was a tough breeze, ideal for the kitesurfers gathered that day. Spring had been until then cold and with much rain, so the water was still quite cold. We did see a sandplover, an advantage of quiet coastlines, he stayed at a safe distance from us.
The last evening we ate pizza at Gionico's in Oristano. The Saturday we returned north to Alghero, to the airport, to take our flight back to Eindhoven.

A voyage to Sardinia. Part 3 West Sardinia

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