a pleasant thirty minutes ride from Sassari, where we were
staying, to the seaside gem of Alghero on the famous “Little
Green Train” (Trenino Verde).
This popular narrow gauge
railroad serves Sardinia and dates back to 1888.
In 1921, author
D.H. Lawrence said of Trenino Verde, “It’s a strange railway.
It shoots up hills and down into valleys and races around sudden
curves with the greatest nonchalance…”
Though we would have
to leave the leg of the railroad that D.H. spoke of for a future
trip, we were able to get our train fix with the shorter jaunt to
we walked the short distance from the train station toward original
Catalonian city and the waterfront.
Rounding the corner to the
beach, we encountered an astonishing sand sculpture by Antonio
He has crafted an artistic history of the regions
culture, religion and politics using only the fine grained beach
sand and water.
artist lives and breathes his art, constantly tweaking his masterpiece,
while living in a van and a tent on the beach at Lido S. Giovanni.
Articles lauding his incredible work from all over the world were
included as part of Ianninis display.
beach leads past the marina filled with both pleasure craft
and local fishermens boats to the walls of the old city.
While gawking at the boats and the majestic view of Capo Caccia, we managed to
miss the main gateway through the ancient wall into city.
is the point at the end of the peninsula that forms the bay, Porto
Conto, about seven miles across the water from Alghero.
a bit like the rock of Gibraltar, rising nearly a thousand feet
straight up out of the Mediterranean Sea.
we discovered stairs up to the top of the Bastion that guarded
the city from invaders for centuries. After a quick check to make
sure none of the local citizens were boiling oil to ward off our
invasion, we scaled the wall.
It is always a striking experience
to venture inside the walls of an historic Italian city but even
more so in Alghero. The mix of cultures over the centuries has
left a truly unique place. We could hardly wait to explore–but
there were many choices for our growling stomachs along the top
of the ramparts. After surveying the options, we decided on Mirador
both for its incredible location — jutting out from the wall
atop a turret — and several menu items that caught our eye. How
could we pass up Spaghetti with small Algheros sea
octopus sauce chocked on frying pan as our old tradition?”
We couldnt. Humorous as menu translations may sometimes be, the food
was absolutely wonderful.
soup served with toasted bread and the festival of the
sea platter of various Mediterranean delicacies started
off the meal.
Most of the sea creatures were ones that were
familiar to us with a large exception being a shrimp-like
guy with lobster claws that had a sweet taste we
likened to Alaskan king crab.
We felt we could live on the soup
for the rest of our lives, but then the waiter brought out the octopus
spaghetti! Were not sure what chocked on frying pan
means, but were fairly sure that all food should be chocked
The (regular-sized) lighthouse atop the massive Capo Caccia
After gazing out toward the majestic Capo Caccia throughout the
meal, we decided we must see it up close.
You can get there
by land and then walk down 656 stairs to the sea and the
immense cavern of Neptunes Grotto.
But we were dying
to get out onto the water and what better way to see the
cliffs up close than from a boat?
Besides, the 656 steps
back UP was a rather daunting
We headed back to the marina to secure a spot on the next boat.
are quite a few excursion boats, some spend the whole day out or,
like ours, just a few hours.
We sped across the bay about half an
hour until we were mouth-open
the rock face from the bottom of the sheer cliff.
really not a word to describe it but its a lot like
looking off the top of a huge skyscraper, only up.
From there, the boat cruises around several giant rock formations
with caves and arches carved into them by the sea on the way
to Neptunes Grotto.
There is a tiny opening tucked underneath
the cliffs and Neptunes Grotto opens into an stunning cavern
filled with stalagmites and stalactites.
After our boat ride, we headed back to the town to absorb some of
its culture and history. Being at a crossroads of the Mediterranean,
Sardinia has been ruled by many cultures and Alghero is no
Currently Italian, through the centuries the Mycenaean,
Phoenicians, Romans, Egyptians, Byzantines, and Spanish have
been among the many to lay claims on Sardinia, but Alghero
has kept its ties close with Catalonia.
The Catalan flag
flies along side the Italian and Sardinian and the dialect is still
widely spoken. The influence can be seen in the architecture, the
food and everywhere
your eye falls.
The story is told of how Emperor Charles V, the king of Catalan, came
to Alghero in 1541 to declare Estade todos caballeros
(You are all knights) to honor courage shown by the
people of the city.
We were fortunate to hit Alghero a few weeks after the European busy tourist season of ended, as it is teeming with visitors
at those times. The streets were uncrowded and the temperature was
perfect for beach going, water sporting and sightseeing.
the day with the local brew, Ichnusa, and a Caprese salad while
watching some of the old men who were watching everything else
going on. If you spend some time in Italy, youll find that
watching really is the great Italian pastime. Were learning
to find the merits in it.
David & Veronica,