Category Archives: Sardinia

A collection of travelogues from my trip to Sardinia, peppered with reviews and recommendations of accommodation, walking tours, restaurants and pubs.

Travelogue Sardinia 2: Oristano to Olbia


25 – 29 September 2022

We awoke to pouring rain in Oristano which was a bit of a thorn in the side of our plans. We were destined to go to Alghero via the town of Bosa, mentioned more than a few times as being one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. 

As several rows of Smartie-box townhouses embedded against a steep hillside, neatly placed between a wide river at its entrance and an ancient castle overlooking the town, it was not the ideal excursion for a rainy day.

Not keen on canning the plan completely, we decided to lay low for a bit and check-out of our hotel at the latest possible time to give the rain a chance to blow over. This also gave us a lot more time to enjoy the breakfast buffet which, as per the previous we’d experienced in Sardinia so far was a gluttonous mix of charcuterie, cheeses, pastries, eggs, yoghurts, juices, cakes and puddings. Heaven for a sugar junkie like me!

Leaving at 11 (the hotel, not the buffet; I would have literally burst if I spent any longer in the breakfast room) we made our way 40km up the coast and, fortunately, seemed to drive through and ahead of the rain. By the time we got to Bosa it was grey but clear.

We started our self-guided city tour at the Bosa Marina to have a closer look at the tower at the water’s edge. Unfortunately it was closed to the public so it was just a case of going up to the tower, taking a snap and repeating the return journey back to the car to proceed to Bosa town. 

We took a walk up to the Castello Malaspina, which made a brilliant vantage point to overlook the town below. Much like what we had seen in Cagliari old town, it was a dense packed community of mostly 3-storey tall buildings very close together, winding their way down the hillside on cobbled streets.

While we had been efficient in taking the steep steps up to the castle, we opted to take a more leisurely zigzag down from the castle which proved to be an interesting activity in itself. 

We had noted that the Sardinians were generally a nation petite in stature, but were still surprised and tickled by how many of these old houses had really tiny doors – to the point that they were barely wider than my shoulders and took me up to my chin. We also commended the locals on their managing the bumpy and slippery cobblestones which were even tricky in our top-end trainers! 

We also noted that Bosa, wise to being a tourist town – clearly evidenced by the number of fellow tourists who were speaking English, French and German, had several restaurants bucking siesta conventions and serving a roaring trade of pizza, pasta and seafood.

Some of the restaurants were no more than a handful of tables; all that could fit in the narrow alleys and small apertures at their disposal. 

If Julia’s story was true about these towns being purposefully built as a labyrinth with narrow winding rows to slow down and confuse enemies, then it would have taken a highly motivated army of Lilliputians with instinctive better-than-modern-Mini GPS and Nike-level sandals to even bother with Bosa! Maybe stop in for a pizza en route to raiding the next village though…

The last leg of our journey was 60km to Alghero. We had begun an audiobook called ‘As Good As It Gets’ by a British comedian called Romesh Ranganathan and the three of us made our merry way. 

It was a very scenic drive through the countryside with parts where we climbed up and through mountain roads that gave spectacular views across the green fields and to the hint of the sea on the horizon. At other parts it was dense greenery, obscuring anything that lay beyond.

Entering Alghero it was very clearly a seaside holiday town. Double lanes on either side for the nobody-in-any-hurry cars, holiday flats lining the inland side with restaurants and shops selling holiday tack below. 

On the beach side, there was a palm tree-lined 3 or 4 metre wide smooth walkway, with demarcated bicycle lanes. Bubbles of cafés and kiosks serviced the  visitors, either seated to face the beach or spilling onto the beachsand. The sea glistened and shone, gamely gently bobbing the yachts and washing some of its crystal blues waters up the sand to give everyone something to watch.

Great spot for a couple of days’ downtime.

We had rented an apartment for our stay. Even though we were a bit early for our 4pm check in, we made our way to our neighbourhood such that we could park the car, have a walk around and worry about the admin later. 

When we arrived though, the receptionist was there and we were able to check in and offload.

We were on the opposite end of the beach to the old town, so the obvious plan was to amble our way back along the beachfront road we’d come in on, all the way to the citadel.

You’d think that by now these historic fixtures would be getting a bit like wallpaper to us… but no. The same fascination at being immersed in an open air museum! 

It helps that Alghero has many exhibits along the battlements so you can freely touch and snap catapults and cannons as you walk along the battlements. 

Of course it was thirsty work, so one must stop for an ice cold Ichnusa every now and then to keep motivated! 

The evening trade was just coming to life. We Googled to find somewhere opening at 18h30 and found a delightful rock bar cafe called L’Anfora down a side street. We were standing in their doorway when they opened…

Although the restaurants open later, there seems to be a tapas culture on this side of the island, which we assumed to be a latent Spanish influence. Assumed and applauded, that is, as we tucked into the basket of chips that was served along with our beers.

By the time we left all the tables outside the bar were full; most patrons enjoying charcuterie boards with their drinks. Perhaps that was the way to survive the fasts between meals, but in our state a few slices of cold cuts and a wedge or two of fancy cheese would not have gone far!

We moved on to dinner – again the first arrivals at the place. We’d chosen a place called El Pultal because it had a rooftop terrace. Not that it had a view of the sea or anything, but it was quite novel to be among the rooftops with the fresh air and the soundtrack of the streets below.

Ordering a simple Diavola pizza and penne Ragu (bolognaise back home), we marvelled at how the quality of the Italian process made the meal more about the dough and the pasta than the sauces. Not just a delivery mechanism for a laundry list of toppings.

We were still talking about it when we took the long walk back along the beach to get home. The beachfront was still busy, with people just arriving for their evening’s entertainment. We again wondered if we were better off squeezing a secret mealtime in during siesta so that we could integrate… or if we’d like it too much and that would create havoc for our schedule when we got home!


We had the luxury of a leisurely start to the day before donning our runners and putting takkie to tar to run the same loop we’d ambled the night before, and fill in the photo album gaps where we’d been unable to get good snaps because it was too busy.

Even though we set off after 9, we had the place to ourselves. Besides a few cafes lapping up the tourist breakfast trade, the seaside was still sleeping and we were able to clock 7.5km or so with photo stops in well under an hour.

Not that there was any rush. With a lazy day ahead, we weighed up our options on things to do and decided to hunt down a seafood lunch and then do a bit of wine tasting.

Reassured from our Sardinian experience thus far that there was no such thing as a bad beach, we decided on the closest out-of-town, Spaggia del Lazzaretto with a restaurant called La Torre that had good reviews.

We only had 6km to drive, which was a win since we were nothing short of literally starving. 

Paying the very least passable amount of homage to the majestic ocean, we moved briskly to a seaside table in the restaurant and, with necessity being the red-headed step child of intention, we poked like Neanderthals at the menu so that the waitress was clear about our predestined spaghetti vongole and calamari platter order. Getting a strawberry granita (grown-up Slush Puppy) for an additional fingerpoint was an unexpected win.

The lunch was delicious and plentiful. We debated the latter. Just because we were full, should it really be described as plentiful? we certainly would have gotten more or paid less at home. Was that a quality / standard of living / forex rate debate? Or were we adjusting; getting indoctrinated? Would we start making micro meals in the middle of the night when we got home?! 

Clearly a week into the holiday we were decompressing and our contextual barometer was calling the shots on what should be blown out of proportion!

What a perfect time to add vino into the mix!

We tootled down the road to a wine farm called Sella & Musca (named after the attorney and engineer who had founded it in 1899). Although the wine tasting and tour for 3pm had already been fully booked, we’d decided to wing it with an unannounced arrival, figuring our lack of Italian would both be a good reason and a good excuse not to bother with the tour.

Turns out that our hosts were as chilled as their wine, and we were able to take up a table on the terrace and sample their sparkling brut and rosé options.

We were so delighted with our experience that we thought we’d pair it with the other farm a few kilometres down the road. It was not to be, however, since we found on arrival that they are not open on Mondays. Oh well.

With the sun still reasonably high in the sky, we returned to our own home Beach for a dip in the sea before opening our own bottle of Red that we’d had to excuse-buy in Bonifacio.

Despite Chris having to pull some quite fancy moves to remove the cork with the broken opener in our apartment, we were soon(ish) sipping on an absolute quaffer, enjoying the last of the afternoon sun, overlooking our swimming pool and (one of us at least) catching up on a bit of traveloguing.


Being a driving day, we had had the foresight to plan an in-home breakfast. Sourcing from the large supermarket in front of our holiday apartment block, we had intended a simple ‘eggs on toast’ sort of formula.

Procuring the two requisite items had triggered some grocery tourism though and we found ourselves engrossed in how different even the staples were from our choices at home. 

There was an entire aisle – both sides, from end to end  of the shop – of pasta options of every conceivable shape, size, colour and dietary requirement! More biscuits than you can imagine, with the vast majority looking like butter cookies / shortbread rather than the rainbow we are presented at home. 

By contrast, the eggs were tricky to find because the display was a small stack of a single brand in two sizes plus a free range option, where the Sardinians would be shell-shocked by the wall of options they’d be faced with if they shopped in South Africa.

While browsing we spotted a rotisserie chicken at the deli which completely outshone the eggs idea and would make for a splendid sarmie.

Filling sorted, we now needed bread of some sort. From the bounty of choices, the most odd was a loaf of 12 slices, packed as 3 side-by-side rows of 4, rather than the conventional straight loaf. There was a long row of baskets with rolls made on-site; easily a dozen or more options of round white rolls. We poked and prodded a few and picked a bag of 3 buns, each big enough to cover my hand with fingers extended.

Breaking our West to East coast journey with a stop in Sassaria (which we figured must be important since it’s the city after which the province we’d been in for the past few day is named), we set off. 

We barely had time for a chapter of our Romesh audiobook before the 32km had whizzed by (relatively speaking, with a 70km speed limit most of the way).

On arrival, we underwent the now-expected exercise of finding an available parking bay somewhere we were allowed to park. Opting for a residential area, which we rationalised was only reserved for resident’s overnight parking pleasure since they would surely be out at work during the day, we parked and set off on foot to see the sites of Sassaria.

We were just arriving at the Palace – stated as ‘Open’ on Google Maps – when suddenly the clouds opened. Stepping into the foyer, thinking we’d miss the cloud burst by taking the tour, our hopes were dashed when the security guard told us the guide would only be arriving at 12 and there was no entry until then.

He did give us a tourist map and we asked many unnecessary questions, didn’t vaguely attempt to prompt the gaps in his English, and showed great enthusiasm for his engagement just to sustain our place in the foyer while the rain pelted down.

Too late to turn back to the car (where we had a brolly and a raincoat, I might add) and drenched already, we darted from side to side across the narrow streets in the old town as we made our way toward the other palace the guard had suggested. 

It had all but stopped raining by the time we sought solace in a shop doorway across from our desired destination. No more than a few minutes later, when the rain had abated, we set off to take our walking tour and get slightly bedraggled photographs along the way.

Perhaps it was just our literally dampened enthusiasm, but Sassaria didn’t manage to hold our attention. 

We were very happy to keep on moving and get to Olbia, where we would be spending the next two nights.

Accommodation in Olbia had been quite expensive, with no clear low-end options, so we’d thrown caution to the wind a bit committing to the Grand President Hotel right on the Marina and at the base of the main drag. With free breakfast and free parking, the total cost evened our with some of the budget options that would potentially leave us logistically scrambling on arrival.


Having had a marathon session at the hotel buffet (how can you not when it includes everything from starters to desserts?!), we headed out to find somewhere pretty to work off our breakfast.

Chris negotiated the 11 short kilometres to get us to Porto Rotondo, where we easily found parking for the car (hooray!) and headed out on foot to explore a bit.

We walked down to the marina which was deserted, hardly a surprise these days since it was barely midday and nothing happens until the sun is overhead. We admired some of the more impressive yachts and the jetskis that were parked at the quayside.

Following the signs, we visited a few of the local beaches, with 5 or 6 options a few hundred metres from each other on various sides of the small peninsula. But, as per What Julia had told us on our tour in Cagliari, the wind is a make or break for a beach experience – and we found the current gusty weather to be quite impractical for stopping to sit on any of the beaches. We made do with the on-the-go scenery since even when the sea was choppy, the view was spectacular.

Opting to return to the car on the inland route we passed through the charming hamlet of Porto Rotondo, which had some delightfully modern appeal. 

There was a new church (in stark contrast to all the centuries-old ones we’d seen so far), as well as the wide pedestrian walkway that runs through the town which has been embedded with modern artworks including steel fish and whales that playfully guide you along the route.

With the usual smattering of pizza and pasta places to service the holidaymakers, Porto Rotando also offers wine tasting…which might have caught our attention if the threatening rain hadn’t been rushing our road trip or, conversely, had in fact come to fruition.

It didn’t rain though so good sense said to us that it was best to get our sightseeing done while the going was still good.

Onward to Golfo Aranci.

With 5 beautiful beaches around the bay, this would have made for a glorious day of beach-hopping if it was sunny. Each with its own merits, we could have easily spent a whole day shifting from one to the next, sipping and snacking on delights from the kiosks as we slothed.

In the wind, it was nowhere near as much fun, so we reminded ourselves of how much we had already seen and done in Sardinia and how there was nothing wrong with having a down day to just relax.

With that we returned to the hotel for a lazy afternoon; a marathon sitting of Friends, fuelled by the complimentary cakes biscuits and sweets from the hotel bar and a cappuccino station in our room. 

Our last spurt of ambition was to take a walk up the main pedestrian shopping street to find somewhere for dinner. Walking the full length and back we decided that there was nowhere better than the brilliant restaurant we had visited the night before, so with plan in hand we were able to hibernate back to our room with a clear plan and to countdown until our last supper.

A couple of hours later we headed to the restaurant, where we were again surrounded by tourists since it was way too early for any self-respecting Sardinian to be having their evening meal.

Despite being sorely tempted to reorder the exact same meals as the evening before (they had been that good!), we complimented our previous evening’s selection with the alternatives we’d tussled with, reasoning that if we were not going to be exciting in our variety of restaurant, we were at least going to show some variety in our order.

We languished in the extravagance of ordering a pizza to share as a starter when the main courses should have been enough to sate the largest of appetite, and then still, being our last night, had no choice but to end off with a dessert. Our last unticked box was one of Julia’s recommendations – a deep fried pastry filled with cheese and covered with warm honey.

What a sweet ending to sweet trip.

Travelogue Sardinia 1: Cagliari to Oristano


22-24 September 2022

This holiday had begun as a roadtrip intended to circumnavigate Corsica, but quickly expanded to include Sardinia when we realised that the two islands are joined by a 50 minute ferry between Bonifacio and Santa Teresa.

Our enthusiasm was channeled into mapping a route that would allow us to see most of the two destinations in a reasonable amount of time, resulting in a fast-paced action-packed 2 week itinerary crafted on a one-day-on-one-day-off driving strategy. Day 1 in Sardinia would thus be covering the long snaking 300km-odd backward S, which would take around 3 hours with 110kmph max speed limit.

Never did we consider that our single-minded roadtrip was actually across two countries and it was only when we collected the car in Bastia that it dawned on us that we were contracted in France… and on reading the documents not endorsed to take the car to Italy and, more importantly, not insured if we left the country. 

We had wrestled with the decision on whether to take our chances or, if not, what to do with the car we had. Our itinerary was to travel the length of Sardinia on our first day, thinking we’d get the big drive (3 hours from the ferry port in the north to the capital, Cagliari, in the south) behind us and enjoy the return journey at a more leisurely pace. This meant very real risk upfront in unknown territory.

It was only on the morning we were due to leave Corsica that the decision made itself. The risk was too high to abscond to Italy with the French car. We would leave it in our hotel parking in Bonifacio and get another rental in Sardinia. We jumped online and booked a car in the ferry port town on the other side, Santa Teresa.

Confident we had made the right choice, we slipped back into our gameplan; fresh pastries and crusty footlong sandwiches from the artisanal bakery next to our hotel.

With a backpack full of baked goodies, we walked to the ferry at the end of the promenade, checked in, boarded and were off to Sardinia to start our Italian episode.

When the ferry arrived in Santa Teresa we were able to use the offline Google Maps we’d saved in advance of the trip to direct us to the car rental agent, only a few hundred metres away in the tiny town.

The wind was taken out of our sails when we presented a South African drivers licence and were told that Italian law required an International Drivers Permit and he was expecting a hard copy original with some sort of official stamp. An absolutely outdated bureaucratic convention! But a showstopper nonetheless. 

The chap at the store was sort of helpful, Googling the phone number for the South African Consulate in Rome in case we wished to seek their help (!) and letting me use his phone to go online to clarify the rules and seek alternatives. 

We tried the two other rental agents in the vicinity; one held the same opinion about the IDP and the other wasn’t concerned, but didn’t have a car available until the next day.

We weighed up our options. Spend the night in Santa Teresa to get the car the next day? Or catch a bus to the nearest big town, Olbia, where there would be more options? 

We chose the latter and found out that there was a bus to Olbia Airport leaving from the Santa Teresa bus terminus at 2, which was an hour’s wait… but not terrible with a beer garden adjacent where we bought refreshments and sponged some poor soul’s internet (who has an open network from their phone?!) to keep ourselves entertained – and procure an online IDP to have a first line of approach should we be asked to present something at the next place.

The bus ride wasn’t terrible. Very comfortable coach and a bargain at €4 for the hour and a half ride. We even contemplated staying on the coach all the way to Cagliari and just using busses for the remainder of the Sardinian chapter… until the man sitting in the seat in front of ours got up, swaggered to the front, garbled something at the driver, swivelled towards the door and then proceeded to violently projectile vomit what looked suspiciously like Alfredo sauce (from the unsettlingly distinct ham and mushroom pieces) into the lap of the lady sitting in the front row!

There was much excitement as the bus was stopped, Alfredo was ejected and the poor lady mopped down with wet wipes and tissues from pitying passengers.

Fortunately there was not much left of our journey because the waft of Alfredo’s recent ex-lunch wasn’t great.

Olbia Airport had a generous selection of car hire options. The first, Sixt, had no qualms about renting us one – no IDP required – and we were soon zooting off in a spanky black Mini Cooper.

We plugged our destination into the Mini’s dashboard nav and let the lady lead us out of Olbia and onto the open road. She took us over a windy-windy mountainous route, which was slower going than the National roads but very pretty scenery that was not that different to parts of home, truth be told. The golden plains punctuated with dark green bushes and trees and backdropped with blue grey mountains could probably be mistaken for the likes of a Van Reenen’s Pass back home. It is remarkable though that there is so much of Sardinia still uninhabited and undeveloped considering its size.

Thankfully the Mini was a pleasurable drive because at times the twists and turns, blind corners and narrow roads felt like a video game. Would have been a nightmare for poor Alfredo.

We arrived into a bustling Cagliari evening. The roads were very busy and it was tricky to navigate according to the GPS lady’s instructions when she very clearly didn’t have a handle on the congestion or the impatient drivers hooting as they manically changed lanes.

Fortunately our hotel was only one road in from the main marine parade, so easier than it could have been if we were deeply bedded in the city. 

We found a parking quite close to the hotel which seemed too good to be true… and it was. On checking in our concierge told us that the parkings in the Marine district require a permit so we’d have to move. I agreed to finalise the check in and move to the room while Chris moved the car.

Almost an hour later Chris arrived back at the hotel, after an unsuccessful mission and with the car back in the same too-good-to-be-true parking bay.

We returned to the concierge to seek advice on options and he produced a magnetic parking card for the pay parking bays a mere 200m from the hotel, available at €8 a day fee. Why had he not offered this to us before?!

We parked the car and walked into the Marina district to get some dinner. I had spent my waiting time doing some Google research on where to go, so at least we had a single-minded purpose. And a reservation waiting.

We were warmly greeted on arrival at White Rock and, having done my online research of the menu, it was an easy ordering process. 

The food was delicious and we enjoyed our pasta and steak dinner, washed down with local Ichnusa beer and entertained by Attila, a teacup dog in a teeny-tiny puffer jacket who kept trying to escape his parents to join our table. 


Vowing to leave the car in place all day, we planned our schedule to allow a generous allocation of time to the hotel buffet breakfast (included in our room rate) before dashing off to meet for the walking tour we’d booked for 10am.

Our guide, Julia, was ready and waiting and we were soon off to hear all about Cagliari as we walked through the 4 districts that the tour covered.

We started at the Saint Rémy Bastion; an impressive facade that we couldn’t help but notice on our arrival. Although in 1700s neo-classical styling, the bastion had been nearly destroyed in World War II so the current structure we were seeing was a rebuild that was intended to match the original as closely as possible. (Along with much of the city which was heavily bombed as as part of the Allies’ strategy against Mussolini).

We were given free time to wander the large open terrace, admiring the panoramic view of Cagliari and the natural beauty of its surroundings, before moving to the next district, Castello, entering through Lions Gate.

We walked through the narrow streets (for ventilation and protection, according to Julia) listening to anecdotes about Sardinian history and culture. Being in the middle of the Mediterranean, it had been valuable to the stronger nations, resulting in defeat and rule by the Pisans (wanting to make Cagliari a mini Pisa), Spaniards for 300 years until the Italians took over in the 1700s. 

The story is summed up in their national flag which has a white background, a Red Cross (like a + sign) and the silhouette of 4 Moors facing west (Spain). This is to represent how St George helped the King of Aragon to defeat his 4 Moorish enemies, each wearing an earring to symbolise them as savages and with their eyes closed to symbolise how they were blind to Christianity.  In more modern times the flag has been updated slightly, with the heads facing east (Italy), the eyes opened and the earring removed as a sort of acknowledgment that they may be seen as racist in the new world.

The woke world we live in is a far cry from the brutal history Cagliari has seen. The Elephant Tower with its 13th century inscription at the gate, still bearing the coats of arms of the families that united to create the fortress to protect their families. The lengths they had to go to! Layers of hand-smithed metal gates on primitive but effective pullies to keep invaders out. With a wooden interior scaffolding on the interior of the gates so that if they did succumb to their enemies, it would be easy to quickly burn to the ground.

Later, during the Spanish rule, the wooden interior of the gate was enclosed to make a prison. It was renowned for being one of the most brutal and intended for the cries and howls of its prisoners to warn the citizens what would become of them if they didn’t play by the rules. 

The Castello also had a curfew. It was only inhabited by Spanish soldiers; the Sardinians who worked in the bastion had to be out by the time the gates were closed at 8pm. Those who missed the curfew were unceremoniously thrown over the high boundary wall, to fall to their death below.

Once the tour was over, we walked to some of the further sites not included in the group route to visit the likes of the archeological museum and the Roman amphitheatre which is still in remarkable condition seeing as it’s more than 2000 years old!

Done with the culture part of the day, we planned to pass a relaxing afternoon at the beach. We had asked Julia for a recommendation on which beach to visit since Sardinia is known equally for the quantity and quality of its beaches.

She shared that while most of the beaches are breathtaking, Cagliari is windy so it’s best to choose according to where the wind conditions are most favourable. Fortunately there is an app for that, so she logged into her MayBay app and checked a few places – they even have a web cam so you’re not just relying on stats – and suggested Poetto, which we could access on foot, by car or on a selection of busses.

We walked the 5 or so kilometres to the beach seeing as we were in no hurry and all the sights were new to us anyway. 

The beach was gorgeous! Blue blue sea, golden sand and only a hint of a breeze which was welcome in the brilliant sunshine. We thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours of swimming and sitting. 

Doing nothing can be thirsty work though, so we hoofed back to the hotel to get cleaned up for a sundowner and some dinner. 

We marked off the Guinness Index (R107.95 each) at an Irish Pub called Old Square and then had dinner in one of the very many restaurants in Medina, sharing a pizza – we’d been hankering after all day – and a stuffed pasta local favourite that Julia had recommended that we try.


Based on Julia’s advice, we made a slight detour on our plan for the day – a 107km drive north to Oristano on the west coast – to latch on a visit to Pula and Nora due 37km further south. 

The significance was twofold: an archeological site with ancient city remains and the destination for an annual pilgrimage in May in honour of St Efisius who was martyred in Roman times and still emotes devotees to walk from Cagliari to the church in Nora where he is laid to rest. So devout are his followers that the pilgrimage even happened through World War II when Sardinia was being bombed!

We checked out of our hotel, Chris liberated the car and used some very poetic licence to drive up to the door of the hotel to collect me and our heavy suitcase and then we were off!

We followed the blue blue ocean along the coast and, despite a few red herrings from our onboard GPS, had little trouble finding our way.

Nora was founded by the Phoenicians in around the 8th century BC on the Capo du Pula. The shelter of the cape allowed safe sea landing no matter which winds were blowing. Based on the gustiness of our ‘not windy’ visit, this must have been a make or break back then.

The Romans arrived around the 2nd Century BC and built their settlement on the foundations of the Phoenician settlement. It was only around the 2nd Century AD that the Romans invested more heavily in the area, building the big fancy houses they are famous for as well as a temple, forum etc. 

The Vandals made their way to Nora in the 5th Century AD and ransacked the city, which prompted the inhabitants to disperse into smaller agrarian groups. By the 8th century AD, further continual raiding by the Saracen pirates made the area completely impractical and it was abandoned once the few remaining inhabitants moved inland for their own safety.

Not much of the Phoenician town still exists, but the Roman remains built over the original town offer an interesting wander through time, with quite a lot of buildings still distinct and tangible finishes like floor tiles still clearly visible and in remarkable condition, bearing in mind how long they’ve been there and exposed to the elements.

Easy to see why early settlers chose the place – beside the access, the shelter of the cove etc etc, the beach is beautiful. Even old St Efisius didn’t do too badly to have this as his final resting place (although, arguably, not being martyred in the first place would have been a bigger win).

Back in the car, we abandoned Mini’s phantom roads and followed the signs to Oristano. 

We arrived to a dead. Quiet. Town. 

Not. A. Soul. About.

Even the Spar was closed. Looked like their siesta was from 2-5.

We checked in at our hotel, prepared to lay low for a bit until things woke up. We checked the Tourist Office hours and coincided our re-emergence with their opening.

Oristano is small and we were staying centrally so it was only a few blocks to the Office and we soon had a simple walking tour map in hand and a worthwhile mission to keep us entertained. It was easy to get epic photos of everything with so few people about!

One of the sights is The Tower; clearly one of the ancient city wall entrances. Besides finding signs of life at the cafe on its piazza, there were sound rigging people setting up some pretty impressive gear. Looked like Oristano was preparing to party!

We did some people watching and pre-sundowners for a bit before the munchies set in. Googling didn’t help the situation, revealing that almost everything only opened around 8. It wasn’t even 6 yet! How do these people survive waiting that long for dinner? Especially since everything had been closed all afternoon.  When was lunch?!

We circled the route we’d been on earlier, rationalising that the busier touristy roads were more likely to wake up first. It was slim pickings but we were drawn in by a cocktail-bar-cafe called Lola Mundo, playing The Cure and advertising sandwiches.

Happy for the snack to keep us going, we ordered. My toasted cheese, ham and mushroom was delicious… but a mere morsel as one slice of bread folded in half and served as a single toasted triangle. Clearly Sardinia is not for the South African appetite! (Although, granted, the people of Sardinia are generally petitely proportioned).

While enjoying the playlist, piazza and free wifi, some research of the area produced result of an Irish bar a mere 120m from us. It seemed rude not to poke a nose in!

Old Town Birreria sure had committed to Guinness. Not only was there painted signage on the outside of the building and the usual assortment of beer mats, coasters and other branded goodies on the bar itself, Old Town had literal Guinness murals on the walls! Although we’d marked Sardinia on the Guinness Index already, this kind of commitment had to be rewarded.

Our good karma was rewarded with a large tower of complimentary French fries served with our pints, as a sort of Tapas.

Wandering back to The Tower we discovered that the riggers had been setting up a free open air concert, by the looks of things hosted by local radio station Sintony.

There was a chap with a mixing desk and three others playing violins and a cello at the top of the tower, with digital screens at the bottom, around which a generous crowd had gathered to enjoy the show.

Young and old were having a merry old time in the vibrant piazza. How fortunate we were to have been in the right place at the right time!