Some of our tours planned for 2016 were full already at the end of last year, well before the detailed announcement of the journey. We consider it a great honor and a sign of confidence. As if you said: no matter what, which route or how much río Wang shows us, we will go along. Keep it up. So it was, among others, with Sardinia: by the time we came back from our preparatory tour in December – during which we daily posted images and stories –, the bus was full. Therefore we do not publish the roadmap for our Easter journey in order to recruit fellow travelers for the last free places, as we did for the Georgian or the Armenian tour, but in order to warm the participants up for the journey, and our other readers for an eventual second Sardinian tour. If you are interested in that one, write us now.
Ronde Neonelesu, F. I. Mannu di Ozieri: Ballu tundu neonelesu, 1979
1. March 23, Wednesday. Alghero – Nuoro
Our flight arrives at Alghero on 22 March in the late evening. The next morning we set out to the heart of Sardinia encircled by high mountains, one of the most traditional regions of the Mediterranean, the Barbagia, where Holy Week and Easter festivities are celebrated with extraordinarily beautiful and archaic splendor. Our road leads through the mountains of Oristano, which was a central region of the pre-Roman culture of the Sards, the nuraghe civilisation. We stop at the rock town of Monteleone, with an amazing view of the surrounding lake area, and in the Byzantine and early medieval town of Macomer, where we visit some typical nuraghe centers in the neighborhood. By the evening we arrive at our accommodation in Nuoro, the center of the Barbagia.
2. March 24, Thursday. Lanaittu Valley, Tiscali and Orgòsolo
We start to get acquainted with the Barbagia in the most emblematic place, where the native population of Sardinia resisted the Roman conquerors for half a millennium, until the fall of the Roman Empire: the valley of Lanaittu and the mountain village of Tiscali. We go by bus to the entrance of the valley, from which we cover the four-kilometer-long path to the peak of Mount Tiscali on foot. After getting back to the bus, in the early afternoon we reach the town of Orgòsolo, the highest settlement of the Barbagia, which, with its murals painted for generations, is an open-air museum of living folk art. After walking around the town and having dinner, we return to Nuoro.
3. March 25, Friday. Sa Gorropu, Sarda Orientale, Oliena
Our second Sardinian walking excursion leads to the valley of Sa Gorropu, the deepest – 500-meter – canyon of Europe. Again we walk until early afternoon, and then we drive along the road Sarda Orientale – according to the Touring Club Italiano, the most beautiful scenic road of Italy – to the traditional restaurant Băbbăi, run by local shepherds. Late in the afternoon we return to the town of Oliena, where the Good Friday ritual is completed with the spectacular medieval tradition of “s’iscrevamentu”, the descent of Christ from the cross.
4. March 26, Saturday. Towns of Ogliastra
The canyon of Ogliastra in the central-southern part of the Barbagia is “an island within the island”, a remote region, which, until roads reached there in the early 20th-century, had almost no connection to the outside world. During our full-day tour we visit the shepherd villages and little towns of this mountainous region, from the “ghost village” of Gàiro through Ulassai and its stalactite cave to the Franciscan pilgrimage church of Fonni and to Gavoi, where we have dinner in a traditional tavern.
5. March 27. Easter Sunday in Oliena, sea excursion, mountain towns
In the morning we go again to Oliena, to see the living medieval tradition of “s’incontru”, where the statues of the Risen Christ and the Virgin Mary meet in the main square of the town, amid the expectations and gunfire of all the inhabitants. Then we drive along the Sarda Orientale to the beach, the port of Cala Gonone, from where we sail to the grotto of the Bue Marino, that is, of the Sardinian seals. On the way back we make a detour to the medieval town of Lula, with its stunning view of the mountains of northern Barbagia. In the evening, a magnificent farewell dinner in the mountains over Nuoro, in a special little restaurant.
6. March 28, Monday. Medieval churches in Logudoro, Sassari, Alghero
In the morning we say goodbye to Nuoro. In about two hours we reach Logudoro province, where a multitude of magnificent churches were built during the medieval rule of Pisa. We visit the most beautiful ones. Then we walk around the old town of Sassari, capital of Logudoro and the second largest city of Sardinia. Late in the afternoon we get back to our first-day accommodation in Alghero.
7. March 29, Tuesday. Old town and Jewish quarter of Alghero
In the morning we walk around the old town and Jewish quarter of the only Catalan city in Sardinia. From here we go to catch the early afternoon flight.