39 Maria’s Sardinian diary

Three days around the Sardinian coast

For 3 days I was able to join Bob and Aleid on board of the Kabaal, and sail around the southern coast of Sardinia (Italy). We started in Portoscuso, in the west coast of the island, where I arrived with a bus, and was able to enjoy a good night’s sleep before departing early in the morning. The plan was to sail from Portoscuso to Cagliari within the span of three days because I was expected to fly back to Rome from there.
The first day and a half where sunny, very warm but, sadly, windless. Yet we still managed to enjoy ourselves thoroughly by visiting the Pan di Zucchero, which means Sugar Loaf in English, it is a massive cliff that rises from the sea, about 50 metres from the coast near Masua, in southwestern Sardinia. Behind the Sugar Loaf, on the coast, we saw the mine of Porto Flavia, which we later learned that it was, technically speaking, not a mine. Porto Flavia was essentially a tunnel that connected several different mines from the interior of the island and allowed for the miners to enjoy a rather smooth, underground connection to the sea, thereby making it easier and safer to extract the minerals. Once at Porto Flavia, the miners were able to release their load to the lower plane, where gigantic silos stored the ore to later unload them with gates at the bottom on a production line that dragged the load to the cliff face. Here, an armed lever acted as a crane and through pipes slid the ore on the boats. What’s also interesting about Porto Flavia is its prime location. Not only was it located right by the sea so that boats could have easy access to the minerals, but it was also purposely built right behind the Sugar Loaf, and so it was protected from all sorts of sea and wind currents, thereby making it even easier for boats to access it without danger.

After visiting Porto Flavia, we decided it was time to go for a swim around the Sugar Loaf, where we encountered all sorts of fish and different brightly coloured stones attached to the Loaf, although I am not sure if the colour of the stones was really that bright or if it was merely an illusion caused by the reflection of the sun. A few meters down, we saw an underwater cave, it was not far from reach, about two meters below us. However, the cave was not within reach from the sunlight, and its darkness gave way for my imagination to elicit all sorts of marine beasts living within it. At that moment, I decided I had had enough, and instinctively swam back to the Kabaal.

That evening we arrived in Carloforte, a small town located in Isola de San Pietro, which is a tiny island right next to Sardinia. The island is nevertheless regarded as Sardinian territory, and its people think of themselves as proud Sardinian islanders. We decided to go for a stroll and visit the old town and look for a place to eat.

After walking for about half an hour, we found a cosy little place not too far from the port, with just three brightly coloured tables on display in the terrace, one of which was occupied. The place looked very appealing, but after looking at the menu, we saw that they did not offer any meat aside from fish, which was disappointing for Bob because he doesn’t like fish. We nevertheless decided to ask the waiter if he had any red meat dishes that weren’t on the menu, to which he replied negatively. So, we decided to look elsewhere, we did not walk for more than five metres down the road when we heard a voice from behind us: “wait!” we turned to face the waiter again, who was walking swiftly towards us, “you like cow meat?” he asked, “I can give you cow meat”. Of course, Bob was delighted by this news, and we immediately walked back. As soon as we sat down, we saw the waiter get on his bike and leave, only to return ten minutes later with what we could only assume would be Bob’s dinner.
The next day we woke up and decided to leave early in the morning, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to reach Cagliari in time for my flight two days later. The morning was peaceful, also windless, but surprisingly warm. We motor-sailed into the wind until about midday, when Bob decided that the wind had become strong enough for us to turn the motor off.

We sailed for another 4 hours or so, until we reached a welcoming cove, and decided to anchor the boat there. The sun was still shining, so we decided to explore the beach a little bit. We took the dinghy and drove towards the coast. I was surprised to see how empty it was. There were just three houses standing by the coast, and the rest was pure nature, apart from a road that I could see far in the distance. I was surprised to see how such a big piece of land had been kept almost untouched by anyone, let alone tourism. We didn’t see a soul, and what’s more, we barely saw any traces of a soul either. We then went back to the boat, and me and Aleid made a nice Drexhage-inspired amatriciana (a typical Roman dish), which included capers and olives on top of the traditional base of guanciale and tomato sauce. It was delicious, although a Roman would have likely said otherwise.

During my final day on board of the Kabaal, we set sail towards our destination, Cagliari. The city of Cagliari is the largest city of Sardinia, and it is also the capital city of Sardinia. The city raises prominently on the southern coast of Sardinia, and it is home to a rich and long history, from the neolithic to modern day. The oldest historical site in the city dates to the year 2700 BC. Unfortuantely, we were only there for a day and there was only so much that we could see. We mostly wandered around the city, and we visited the cathedral, called Cattedrale di Santa Maria e Santa Cecilia, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Cecilia. We initially disagreed with regards to the architectural style. Aleid was convince that it was of Romanesque style, whereas I thought it was Baroque. After doing some research, it turned out that both of us were right; the cathedral was originally built in gothic-Romanesque forms, but was reformed and expanded several times between the 13th and 18th Centuries. In fact, the façade dates back to the year 1704. Another interesting fact is that the current appearance of the church is heavily influenced by a Pisan, Catalan and Aragonese styles. Moreover, the façade was remodelled a second time in the 1930s showing traces of a neo-Romanesque style combined with the old Baroque style. Essentially, the intertwining and mingling of the different historical periods, architectural and sculptural styles have made this cathedral a one of a kind.

After visiting the cathedral, we searched for a place to have dinner, and found a nice little place in a street in the old centre, called Derò Restaurant. The place seemed rather new, and I was initially a little sceptical as to what they would offer us. I ordered a pork neck stake with potatoes on the side, it was delicious. We also enjoyed a nice wine, while discussing topics such as history, philosophy, logic and feminism. We even touched upon the infamous concept of truth relativity, which I daresay doesn’t exist, but Bob and Aleid were of a different opinion.
All in all, the restaurant proved to be a very nice one, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city, they had an extensive wine repertoire, and the food was good value for money. We then walked back to the boat, it was a lively night, bars were packed, restaurants were full of lively chatter and people seemed to be getting ready to spend the night out and about. The city of Cagliari also has a university, and so the streets were packed with students and young families. Although I did not get to experience the nightlife myself, I have a feeling that it is a very enjoyable one, given the extensive amount of young people filling the streets.

The next day I had to fly back to Rome at around midday. Bob and Aleid had planned to rent a car for that day and visit the countryside, so Bob went early in the morning to pick up the car and take me to the airport first. He came back with a baby-blue Barbie fiat, which I thought was very comical, not just because of its appearance, but also for the fact that he intended to drive with it around the countryside. But it had only cost him nine euros for 24 hours, happy Dutchman. We drove to the airport, and I hugged my goodbyes, I had had a wonderful time in Sardinia, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat, I only wished I could have stayed for longer!

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